Optimize Ads for Desktop PageSpeed: The Second Part

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Late last year, we launched our patent-pending, revolutionary page speed technology, appropriately named after its purpose: Optimize Ads for Mobile PageSpeed.

That feature optimizes the way Mediavine sites load ads in a mobile-first world, prioritizing the first screen view of content to load first and faster on mobile devices.

We like to think of this an express lane for your content in the traffic highway of page loading, making sure your ads got the heck out of the way — or at least take a back seat.

We focused on mobile first because those are the devices that need page speed optimizations most. Mobile phones are slower than desktop processes, and are generally dependent on cellular connections versus the more reliable, speedy broadband connections of desktop.

Desktop traffic is still a thing, though — and a lucrative one at that. So today, we’re here to announce custom desktop page speed optimizations titled … yes, you guessed it:

Optimize Ads for Desktop PageSpeed

It took us a few months to bring this feature to desktop, not just because mobile is always our first priority, but because of some unique desktop issues we had to solve.

Chief among those? In order to prioritize the first screen view of content, we needed to ensure that the first screen view is all content.

In short, we had to get all the ads out of the first screen view — not a huge ask on an iPhone, but a much taller order with desktop screens and their sheer size.

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First, we added a necessary feature to the Mediavine Video Player.

By launching Scroll to Play, our publishers can still have an autoplay-like experience, all while running videos after the first screen view.

Another self-explanatory concept, Scroll to Play works by beginning to play videos only when a user scrolls far enough for it to come into view.

Put another way, the video still “auto plays,” but only when users are about to see it, allowing videos to appear after the first screen view.

This means publishers can still take advantage of the sticky video player’s exceptional ad performance, while creating a better, faster experience for users.

After the Scroll to Play solution, we tackled two other crucially important desktop units appearing atop of pages — the leaderboard and top sidebar ads.

We’ve slowly phased out leaderboards over the years in favor of our desktop adhesion and its superior performance, but some of our publishers still run it.

A man's hands typing at a laptop computer.

The top desktop sidebar? Well, that’s been a staple of the Internet since there’s been an Internet.

When enabled, our Optimize Ads for Desktop PageSpeed technology will detect if these units are in the first screen view. If they are, it will simply not display them.

Once the video player and these two key display ad units were cleared out of the first screen view, we were ready to adapt our PageSpeed optimizations for desktop.

What does the Optimize Ads for PageSpeed setting actually do?

A lot more than removing the aforementioned ads from the first screen view. If you remember, we lazy load ads at Mediavine. Think of Optimize Ads as kind of a supercharged lazy loading.

In essence, it’s making sure ALL of your ads are now lazy loaded.

Beyond that, the entirety of Mediavine’s ad tech script — not just the loading of ad units — will be delayed or deferred until content has a full chance to load and pages become interactive.

It’s the combination of the three features — removing ads from the first screen view, lazy loading all ads, and deferring our ad tech — that will make desktop sites insanely fast.

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The results speak for themselves

You can test The Hollywood Gossip, or any of its article pages, on Page Speed Insights and you’ll see a near perfect score on desktop and all audits being passed.

Beyond that, test The Hollywood Gossip using ANY page speed tool that properly measures first screen view load times, including Webpagetest.org or GTmetrix.

You will see the same scores, and this is all while running our full ad suite on an extremely high volume site with no gimmicks. The results are universal, as real-world platforms like Chrome User Experience Report and Google Analytics will report the same, insanely fast load times.

NOTE: This feature will only help you achieve those scores if your site is fast on its own without ads. This feature only takes care of the ad side of things, and you’ll need to work on all the other aspects required to speed up your site.

So should you enable this?

Despite the time we’ve spent developing this feature and telling you about it here, we’re actually not expecting all Mediavine publishers to enable Optimize Ads for Desktop PageSpeed.

The reason? By design, this mode is removing ads (and therefore revenue) from pages. When it comes to desktop, that revenue tradeoff may not be worth the speed increase.

On mobile, this mode makes 100% sense. There were never ads in that first screen view to start with, so revenue declines from the other optimizations, such as the ad tech deferral, were slim.

Furthermore, the resulting page speed gains mean more ad impressions and better user experiences overall, especially on slower devices, more than making up for any losses.

Desktop computers, connections and websites are a different story. Most are fast enough so that the speed gains aren’t as noticeable, and taking down those ads will make a dent.

If you’re a publisher who’s obsessed with page speed and willing to take the loss of removing the leaderboard and sidebar ads that appear in the first screen view, go for it.

However, if you’re a publisher with a large percentage of inventory coming from desktop and making a large percentage of their income from their leaderboard or top sidebar ads, then we would not recommend this feature.

We’re excited to offer this technology and continue to run it on The Hollywood Gossip, but realize this won’t be the right fit for all Mediavine publishers.

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