What Are Sticky Ads? Pros & Cons, Best Practices & Examples

January 12, 2024
6 minutes

Online ads are an inseparable part of the browsing experience. It is nearly impossible to find a website or a free mobile app that doesn’t come with at least some occasional promotions.

Over the years, the number of ads bombarding internet users has grown exponentially, but so has the users’ resilience to those ads. This is how such terms as banner blindness came into life, describing visitors unconsciously (or consciously) ignoring banner-like information.

Naturally, advertisers and publishers were introduced to various new ad formats that can better grab people’s attention and help combat other issues, like viewability rates.

Optimizing for viewability without jeopardizing user experience can be tricky, but sticky ads walk that fine line with ease. 

Let’s learn what they are and how to use them for the best results.

What is a sticky ad?

Sticky ads, sometimes also called anchor ads, are a type of ads that stay at a fixed position on the user’s screen even when they scroll the page in any direction. Or, as the name suggests, they stick within the viewport thorough the whole user’s session on the page.

Sticky advertising example on The Wall Street Journal

In times of bot traffic, ad fraud, and ad block, advertisers struggle to put their ads in front of real people who tend to scroll through the page promptly. Due to short attention spans and previously mentioned banner blindness, it’s also getting more and more difficult to catch their interest.

For these reasons, advertisers seek formats that can increase viewability rates, and that's where sticky ads can help.

Types of sticky ads

Sticky ads are divided into two types – horizontal and vertical, although you may sometimes encounter some variations of those, e.g., mirror ads, which are two vertical ads placed on both sides of the screen.

Horizontal sticky ads

Horizontal sticky ads appear at the top or the bottom of the webpage. Generally, they take the full length of the screen and are landscape-shaped, which is the main reason why they can also be used on most sites and devices.

Sticky ads types: horizontal

When the sticky ad appears at the top of the page, it can also be called a Header sticky ad. In comparison, Footer sticky ads are placed at the bottom of the webpage.

Vertical sticky ads

Vertical sticky ads are the opposite of horizontal ads – they are portrait-shaped and, therefore, exist on the sides of the website, either right or left. Sometimes, they are called Sidebar sticky ads.

Due to the orientation of the display, vertical ads are suitable for desktops or tablets only since otherwise, they would block a significant portion of content and, without a doubt, ruin the user experience.

Vertical sticky ads

Sticky ads size

Sticky ads don’t have some universal size standard created specifically for them because nearly any ad can be a sticky one. In other words, sticky ads are more of a feature than an ad format, meaning that your sticky ads can appear in standard display banner sizes.

Some of the most commonly-used sizes include:

  • 300x250 – also known as a medium rectangle, goes well with the sidebar content.
  • 300x600 – also known as half-page ads, these ads are considered to be one of the top-performing because of their high visibility.
  • 160x600 – vertical sticky ads size that can get you better demand and CPMs.
  • 728x90 – or leaderboard ads can act as your horizontal (top or bottom of the page) sticky ads.
Common sticky ads sizes

Why use sticky ads?

In digital advertising, sticky ads can benefit both advertisers and sellers (publishers). 

Essentially, they help fight banner blindness and reduce the chances that the user will just scroll past the ad and forget it.

Besides this, some other pros of sticky ads are:

  • Sticky ads pass the minimum IAB and MRC requirements for viewable display advertising by default since more than 50% of ad creative pixels are in view for a second.
  • Higher viewability can turn into more conversions for advertisers. For publishers, sticky ads can help increase web page monetization.
  • Sticky ads are not as intrusive as some other popular ad formats, e.g., interstitials or pop-ups. They stay in view but don’t disrupt the browsing experience.
  • They can be customized in many ways across different web pages.
Verizon sticky ad on USA Today

Are there any disadvantages to sticky ads?

There are downsides to everything, and sticky ads are not an exception – mostly when you do them wrong:

  • Some ad networks don’t allow sticky ads, which can sometimes limit advertisers' options.
  • In some cases, sticky ads can reduce the performance of other ad formats.
  • The amount of space they take on the website can sometimes be seen as a disadvantage.
  • Sticky ads may ruin the website’s look and browsing experience when not properly done.
  • Pages overloaded with sticky ads will likely have slower loading times (and actually result in the banner blindness you were trying to avoid).

5 tips to make the most of sticky ads

So how to do sticky ads right so that both sides of the advertising chain can get the best out of them?

Here are a few quick tips.

1. Use the most common sizes

Ads that hurt user experience never work, and ad size is an important factor that can contribute a lot to this. Just a few messy pixels to one side or the other, and you can watch your viewers looking for that “X” on the corner of the ad.

Stick to the previously mentioned common sticky ad sizes, mostly:

  • 300x250
  • 160x600
  • 300x600

Sticky ads that stay fixed at the top or the bottom of the screen (not the webpage itself) could be any size as long as they’re not taller than 90px on desktop and 100px on mobile.

2. Pay attention to ad aesthetics

The best ads don’t interrupt, distract, or clutter, so carefully considering the overall aesthetics of your sticky ads can help you make them more impactful. Besides, sticky ads are already an attention-grabbing format, so there’s no need for a “screaming” design.

  • Avoid colors that are too bright or distracting
  • Eliminate flashy elements
  • Keep them minimal and straight to the point

3. Don’t overload your ad with text

Text is an essential part of your ad, but no one will stop and read it if there’s a paragraph-long description of your offer. 

Make sure your ad says only what’s important and as quickly as possible, preferably in a few words. Users need to grasp the idea of your promotion as soon as their eyes meet your ad, so the key is to make your text impactful.

Spotify sticky ad on Dailymail

4. Include a proper call-to-action (CTA)

Just launching an ad doesn’t guarantee you’ll achieve your desired results, so it’s really important to tell your target audience what exactly you want them to do next. And that’s what CTA is for.

CTA is a form of persuasion and should always appear in every ad, followed by a link. CTA depends on the action you want your audience to take – visit your landing pages, subscribe to newsletters, fill out a survey, etc. A good CTA should tell people what they can expect after clicking on the ad and why they should do it.

Put simply, CTA is your audience's motivation to interact with your sticky ad.

5. Use the right tools

Having proper advertising tools at your marketing disposal can not only help you create and launch ads easier but also put them in front of people who need to see them.

In programmatic, you can rely on DSP, or demand-side platform, which is software that advertisers use for automated, centralized media buying from multiple sources. Among many targeting options, channels, and ad formats, you can also choose where on the website you’d like your ads to appear.

Eskimi sticky ad options

Stick in your target audience's mind

Sticky ads can help you increase your ad visibility, however, like with any other type of ad, it’s important not to overdo it. Especially when we talk about ad format that already comes with higher visibility, like sticky ads, the line between “catchy” and “intrusive” can be very thin.

Essentially, how effective your sticky ads are will mostly depend on you. And a little on the tools you use to run them.

Book a demo or contact the Eskimi team to make the best of sticky ads.

Philip is the CMO of Eskimi. When he’s not busy growing the Eskimi brand, he spends his time with family and playing ping pong.
Philip is the CMO of Eskimi. When he’s not busy growing the Eskimi brand, he spends his time with family and playing ping pong.
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