Ad quality issues on web pages might be affecting publishers more than they realize.
A new report released by Ad Lightning, a Seattle company that seeks to increase transparency for advertising-dependent publishers, found that 28 percent of ads have quality issues. When an ad is oversized or using too much CPU, it can significantly slow the load time of a webpage, causing people to visit the site less often.
For the study, Ad Lightning analyzed data of more than 605,000 ad creatives across 60 high-traffic websites over 78 days ending last month. The websites analyzed produced news, commerce and entertainment content.
The report found that there’s a significant gap between the standards developed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and actual industry practices. “Bad ads,” as the report details, are ads that fail to follow industry guidelines that seek to reduce ad quality issues.
“Consumers experience these issues in ways that reflect on the publisher much more than the advertiser,” the company said in its report.
The IAB, for example, determined the standard size for a banner ad should be 200KB or less. According to Ad Lightning’s report, more than 40 percent of ads exceed that. Nearly 10 percent are larger than 5MB.
An ad can also slow page load time if it requires too many network requests or tracking scripts to load. Of the ads analyzed in the report, the average sent 56 network requests or tracking scripts per ad, 3.7 times greater than the IAB’s suggestion of 15.
This gap between guidelines and reality was apparent across multiple categories, according to Ad Lightning, and that affects how users look at sites.
“Offending ad quality issues often delay page loads significantly longer,” the company writes in the report. “They keep the desired web page from loading until the ad issues have been resolved, or they reconfigure the loaded page once the lagging ads have loaded. Both outcomes disrupt the user experience and often shape perceptions about the publisher brand.”
The fight against bad ads isn’t exactly new, but companies such as Google and Facebook have ramped up their efforts in recent years. In 2016, Google took down 1.7 billion ads that violated its policies and its software to disable such ads quicker.
Facebook expanded its advertising network last year to publishers outside the social media site in an effort to better monitor ads that people see.