Making Ads Great Again

This article is a companion to my talk at WordCamp Europe 2016 entitled “Making Ads Great Again” (PDF version of my slides here).

Here are some details about items mentioned in the talk:

Ad Best Practices

    • Preferred GPT Mode: Single-request mode for all initial ads + Asynchronous mode for all lazy/later ads . Single request mode is used to request as many ads as as possible in the header. Asynchronous calls are used load in ads that appear after some action the user takes, such as opening a gallery, scrolling to the next post, or navigating to a new route in a single page app.
    • Roadblocking/Master-Companion targeting This is a targeting method to deliver a set of creatives that serve together as roadblocks  These master/companion creative sets consist of a master creative and one or more companions. You can set your line item to require that all of the creatives in the set serve together, to require that the master always be accompanied by at least one companion, or just to serve as many companions as possible whenever the master is served. Companion creatives aren’t ever served without the master.
  • Infinite contents / lazy load: The ads are loaded asynchronously and cannot be guaranteed to follow Master/companion “roadblock” targeting.
  • Asynchronous Batch mode: refers to loading a new set of ads by batch: for example a page loads with three ads, all are included in the initial header ad batch request. The user scrolls to the bottom and an ajax request loads the next post in-line (lazy/infinite). A new ad batch request is made to get the three ads for the next “page”.
  • Rich media (OOP, 1×1): OOP stands for “Out of Page” and generally refers to ad units that pop over the page content such as a modal video overlay. A 1×1 is typically an ad unit that changes the page appearance itself, for example adding a background ad image. Best practices call for only a single OOP and 1×1 per page, and generally these units are not used for infinite content. OOP and 1×1 units are best placed immediately before the closing </body> tag or in `wp_footer`.
  • Single page apps: SPAs treat route changes (navigation) as a new pageview. The correlator is reset, and a new batch of ads is requested for the new view.
  • Targeting values: Each ad is passed name value targeting pairs that are set in the ad calls. The may include the page url, categories & tags, a ‘pos’ value that increments or a debug value. These are added to the slot definitions as required for ad targeting.
    • Debug targeting & debug account options, debug mode: Best practice includes building in an ad debug mode, available to logged in users (admins), that passes a debug targeting value to the ad server; for example `?testadid=99`. A usedebugaccount variable `?usedebugaccount=true` that uses a separate debugging DFP account. A debugmode variable `?usedebugaccdebugmodeount=true` that shows the JavaScript code for each ad slot inline on the page.
  • Ad unit names / zones:  An ad unit is a container or folder organize ads and connect to a publisher’s page inventory. A zone is a a second level of  allowing for further organization of ads. 
  • Correlator value – A correlator value is a unique ID that represents a pageview/session. When a new page loads, the correlator value resets. The correlator value can also be reset manually with a call to `googletag.pubads().updateCorrelator();` A common correlator value is required to deliver all ads for master/companion targeting. Correlator values reset after 30 seconds. 
  • Responsive Ads: DFP provides a method for targeting ads by viewport size. A “sizeMapping” call links each screen size (minimum) with one or more ad sizes; A default size can be provided, as well as specifying that no ad should be shown for specific sizes. Size calculations occur at load time and the developer is responsible for refreshing ads on screen resize (or mobile ‘orientation change’ events).

Ad tags & implementation

Ad debugging