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What Publishers Need to Know About Ad Refreshing

March 2, 2021

Publishers are regularly searching for ways to improve revenue generation by making ads more effective. One of the ways they do that is through ad refreshing. However, before you decide to implement the technique on your site, it’s essential to understand the advantages, disadvantages, and best practices.  

In this article, we’ll:

  • Give a short overview of ad refreshing.
  • Briefly explain how the tactic can impact CPMs.
  • Mention refreshing methods.
  • Cover best practices and do’s and don’ts.

We’ll start by taking a closer look at ad refreshing and how it works.

What Is Ad Refreshing?

Ads are typically called when a page is loaded. After that, the same ad remains on the page, regardless of how long the user spends reading your article, watching your video, or playing a game. Resultantly, some publishers find that they have excellent time-on-site scores but still get a low number of impressions.

To solve that problem, publishers began to use ad refreshing. In short, the technique calls a different creative from the ad server without reloading the current page. That allows users to see new ads and lets you generate more revenue.

Here’s what it looks like (Sticky banner):

Unfortunately, not all ad refresh methods are created equal, and some have better results than others.

Ad Refreshing Methods

There are several ad refreshing methods, and it’s essential to research your options before selecting one. The methods include:

  • Time-based refresh: new ads are loaded after a set interval, such as 60 seconds.
  • User action-based refresh: ads are loaded after users scroll or click on the page.
  • Event-based refresh: ads are refreshed after an event occurs, such as a game finishes loading, or a video ends.

While each of the above methods has its advantages, they typically negatively impact viewability and aren’t as successful over the long term.

Smart Refresh

Smart ad refreshing is the method we use at Softonic, and it typically delivers much better results than the other techniques. Smart refresh uses time-, action-, and event-based triggers. Some configurations can use up to 20 different signals to determine if an ad is being viewed and whether it should be refreshed.

Unlike most other methods, smart ad refreshing can generate more revenue for publishers and increase viewability to appease advertisers.

How Does Ad Refreshing Impact Cpms?

Advertisers are typically aware if publishers use ad refreshing on their sites. Some may respond by decreasing their bids due to concerns over viewability, which can reduce your CPMs for each successive refresh. However, you’ll likely get a higher number of total impressions per user session to compensate.

Here’s an example:

If you use ad refreshing, we recommend considering alternative metrics to measure your revenue growth and success, such as:

  • Page revenue per thousand impressions (RPM)
  • Earnings per thousand visitors (EPMV)
  • Revenue per session (RPS)

These metrics may give publishers a better idea of their potential earnings.

Best Practices Publishers Should Follow

There are several do’s and don’ts when it comes to ad refreshing. Here are a few of the best practices our expert Softonic team recommend following:

Avoid Aggressive Refreshing

Viewability is a significant concern for advertisers. If you display an advertisement for 30 seconds or less, the viewability rates drop, and your inventory becomes less valuable. The less valuable your ad space, the lower advertisers’ bids will be.

If you use time-based triggers, it’s critical to ensure that an ad is visible for at least 60 seconds before you refresh the creative.

Run A/b Tests

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to refreshing methods. You’ll need to try out different triggers and techniques to find the one that works best for your site and audience. It’s just as important to try them out in different positions. For example, a time-based refresh might work well on a sidebar, but you may get better results with an action-based trigger for a header advert.

Privacy Concerns

Publishers need to take the privacy of their visitors seriously. If you use a trigger that listens for keystrokes, you may end up recording private information such as passwords or personal details. Ensure that your event listeners don’t record these types of info.

Don’t Refresh Direct Deal Ad Inventories

Direct deals take a lot of time, effort, and negotiation to put into place. These advertisers pay to have their ads shown in premium locations without competing for space through bidding.

If you implement a refresh method that affects these ads, you risk the advertiser discontinuing their direct deal with you.

Focus on Engaging Content and User Presence

Content that holds the attention of your visitors will benefit from ad refreshing. Since the user is spending more time on the page, it’s likely that they’ll see the new creatives when you call a new creative from the server.

It’s also vital to consider user presence and activity. A visitor might have your site open without actively looking at the content. Attempting to show another while the user isn’t active on the page will drop your viewability. Consequently, advertisers will bid less on your inventory, resulting in lower CPMs for you.

Obey the Network’s Terms

Not all networks allow for ad refreshing. If they do, it’s critical to read the network's policy to ensure your refresh remains compliant with its terms. Working with a monetization partner that includes it as a service will protect you from breaking a network or exchange’s terms.


If you want to implement ad refreshing on your site, take the time to explore your options. Ensure that you understand and comply with your network’s terms. Alternatively, work with a monetization partner that offers the service.

When done wrong, ad refreshing can cost you a lot of revenue and chase away advertisers. However, when done right, the technique can raise your income, improve viewability, and make your site more appealing to advertisers and networks.

is a digital advertising performance expert and the Director of Rev•Amp at Softonic. As a business unit leader, Fréderic is responsible for the monetization and the success of the Softonic Publisher Network. Within Rev•Amp, Fréderic oversees Product, Business Development, and Account Management functions.
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