Over the past few years, the programmatic industry has seen the rise of its most popular ad format, the 300x250 medium rectangle. In fact, demand for this ad unit has been so high that, according to eMarketer, CPM rates experienced an 18% jump from Q4 2016 to Q4 2017. As programmatic continues to mature, however, new ad formats are emerging, giving the 300x250 medium rectangle a run for its money. One format currently gaining popularity is the half-page 300x600 ad unit.
There are many benefits associated with the 300x600 ad unit. For advertisers, it provides additional advertising space, paving the way for captivating creative that can improve campaign performance. Its large size is also potentially more enticing, encouraging users to engage. And for publishers, the 300x600 ad unit takes up more real estate, which potentially means higher CPM rates.
With the many benefits of the 300x600 ad unit, is it possible this format will become the next 300x250 medium rectangle? An analysis of EMX proprietary data, as well as historical programmatic trends, suggest the following barriers may stand in the way of its climb to the top.
1. Content to Ad Ratio
In 2012, Google introduced its content to ad ratio algorithm. Since then, Google has penalized publishers whose ads take up too much of their total page display. The 300x600 ad unit is large and will take up more of the ratio, leaving less room for multiple inventory spaces. For Publishers, less inventory space could mean less revenue and a reason to not support the ad unit.
2. Accidental Click Penalizations
In addition to content to ad ratio penalizations, Google penalizes publishers for accidental clicks. The 300x600 ad unit is more than 2x the size of the popular 300x250 medium rectangle. It stands to reason that an ad that is more than 2x the size of the 300x250 ad unit is more that 2x as likely to be accidentally clicked. With an increase in accidental clicks, Google may penalize publishers and scrap the ad altogether.
3. Ad Blockers and Web Browser Fitlers
Currently, ad blockers and web browser filters analyze the user experience elements of ad units. If an ad unit is too intrusive and makes it difficult for users to navigate a webpage, ad blockers and web browser filters will work to block these ads. Being such a large unit, the 300x600 ad may ultimately prove to be too intrusive, making it difficult for users to navigate the host site, resulting in blocked ads.
4. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
With Google prioritizing AMPs in search rankings, there is no doubt that AMPs are on the rise. AMPs enable websites to render nearly instantly, decreasing latency and increasing sales. In fact, according to a study commissioned by Google, AMP websites experience a 10% increase in traffic, a 2x increase in time spent on a page, and a 20% increase in sales. Historically, larger ads (like the 300x600) take a longer time to load. When it comes to AMP sites, longer load times mean not being seeing, resulting in lower ROI for buyers.
The 300x600 ad unit provides more space for advertisers to develop enticing creative that encourages users to engage. For publishers, larger real estate could mean more revenue. And yet, with the many benefits of the 300x600 ad unit come the many barriers such as ratios, penalizations, ad blockers and AMPs. So, with the many advantages and disadvantages of the 300x600 ad unit, what’s the conclusion?
Be open to the 300x600 ad unit. While it’s nearly impossible to predict if it will continue on its rise to the top, the 300x600 ad unit is currently gaining popularity, which means buyers and publisher should cover their bases.
“If a publisher supports the larger 300x600 ad unit, a company like EMX can take bids for both 300x600 ad units and 300x250 ad units to fill that space. In doing so, buyer’s ads are optimized for views and publisher inventory is optimized for highest possible ROI.”
Cory Schnurr, EMX Director of Demand Strategy and Partnerships
Find out where the industry is headed next in our whitepaper: Pricing Programmatic: An Analysis of Digital Ad Marketplace Trends.