Study finds that below the fold ads are more engaging than ones that appear above the fold

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In web terms, above the fold content is anything that appears on a webpage without needing to scroll. Because this is the first thing a user sees when they open a webpage, and countless studies have found that many users won’t scroll before deciding to exit a page, it’s typically advised that adverts you place in the SERP (search engine results page) and publishers’ websites are above the fold.

However, a recent study from online ad technology company, Sovrn, suggests that below the fold ads on publishers’ websites are in fact more engaging than ones that appear above the fold. According to the study (which looked at viewability and engagement), adverts that appear below the fold are up to nine times more engaging than those that appear above the fold.

They concluded this by using a new form of measurement called Viewable Engagement Time (VET).

As Ad Tech Daily explains, Sovrn tested a number of hypotheses regarding audience engagement, and determined the importance difference between engagement time and dwell time. ‘Engagement time’ is explained as the total time that a page is open (in view), and the user is deemed active for over five seconds. “Dwell time”, on the other hand, is the total time that the page is open before the user closes the window or exits the page by clicking on a link.

According to the study, users were engaged for 27% of the viewable dwell time when they viewed ads that appeared below the fold (BTF). This compared to just 3% for above the fold (ATF) ads. It was also revealed that below the fold content was seen for 2.6 times longer.

To conclude the engagement levels for adverts both above and below the fold, the Sovrn study looked at over three billion engagements across 130 million page views on more than 400 websites.

The TJM take: The results of this study are very interesting as they suggest that (unlike once thought) users are happy to scroll down a webpage to find what they’re looking for. As a result, it appears that they’re engaging more with content placed below the fold, and therefore, the ads that also appear in that part of the webpage.

As MI News points out, ads that are above the fold are currently up to five times more expensive than those below the fold. This means this could potentially be great news for businesses advertising within a competitive industry as they’ll spend less budget. Nonetheless, as with anything digital, we’d suggest testing this to ensure you get the best result.

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