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