by AdExchanger // Friday, February 5th, 2021 – 12:04 am
“The Sell Sider” is a column written for the sell side of the digital media community.
Today’s column is written by Brian Weiss, yield and product strategy manager at Freestar.
Publishers battling for the top ranking among the most-searched keywords face a big change to the rules of the game in May 2021, when Google will be updating its search algorithm to incorporate Core Web Vitals (CWV), three new metrics to measure page experience. These changes aren’t an act of altruism. Google search’s update aims to improve the perceived user experience and overall brand of their browser, where Google is the default search engine.
Google has described CWV as: “a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability to help site owners measure user experience on the web.” It’s rare for Google to be so transparent and proactive about changes in their search algorithms, so when notice is given a year in advance, there’s good reason to pay attention
For web users, this set of standards will lead to a more user-friendly browsing experience, one which publishers have allowed to erode over time as more revenue-centric metrics like clicks, viewability, and video completion rate dominate conversations and dashboards. Many publishers have grown out of touch with their audience and how they interact and engage with their websites.
So while Google is forcing change, the industry as a whole stands to benefit from rethinking and adjusting to meet these new standards. Publishers who choose to adapt and be proactive stand to gain from not just increased search traffic, but also more users returning to their websites and spending more time each session.
With implementation just months away, publishers need to begin optimizing for the upcoming algorithm changes.
Core Web Vitals will comprise three of the seven search signals used by Google to determine a webpage’s “page experience” score. The score affects a publisher’s rank on search results and, just as importantly, appearing in what they refer to as “rich results” or “enriched search results”. These are the results that appear at the top of the search results page.
Core Web Vitals should make you consider where, how, and what size ads are placed on your page, especially for mobile users. Ad placement and frequency needs to accommodate pages that are narrower in width and thus have a far greater scroll depth.
To capture the full value of a pageview, you first have to fully understand where users are focusing their attention, and then at what size and frequency ads can be placed in those focus points without having a negative impact on user experience.
Clear Up Any Speed Bottlenecks
On mobile devices, users scroll through content far faster than on desktop. That means there’s far less time for ads to render and be fully viewable. As a result, the ad placements that are highest up on the page are the hardest to fill.
A great way to measure performance is Google Ad Manager’s Ad Speed reports. They display a snapshot of your network’s ad serving speed and can be segmented by ad unit and device type to determine reasons for non-viewable or non-deliverable ad impressions. Other valuable insights can be gleaned from looking at the tagging speed, which shows ad speed by elapsed time for different periods, including “Page navigation to tag loaded time.” These reports make it easy to identify and improve the factors contributing to fast or slow load time.
A Worthy Investment
Resilience through periods of great change defines great companies from the rest. Look at this algorithm change as an opportunity to gain an edge on competitors by understanding the right balance between user experience and monetization.
For publishers, now is the time to get to know your audience again. Strengthen your website’s foundations so you’re prepared to weather whatever storm may lay ahead.
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