Getting Banner Refresh Rates Just Right

Banners – an ad format that has been tried and true from web to mobile. Most monetization professionals throw them onto a page and call it a day. Mediation adds a foundational layer to optimize between demand sources. Bidding takes automation to the next level by removing the need to maintain a waterfall of non-bidding networks. On top of that, how else can app developers get every last drop of revenue from this ad format? 


Refresh rates are a tool specific to the banner ad format. Since banners are usually a persistent ad format – they do not leave the screen and are usually visible alongside your app’s content – the “refresh” opportunity happens while your user is still on the same screen in your app. “Refreshing” a banner is another way of saying you’re running another auction to sell the next impression, destroying the current banner that is visible and replacing it with a new banner delivered by the highest bidder (or predicted CPM of a waterfall network if you aren’t already switched to 100% bidding demand sources). 


Finding the right amount of time to allow each banner ad to show your user without overwhelming them with a slew of ads or letting the ad get “stale” will be unique to your app, since there is no golden rule that works for all apps. 


OK, so where do I start? 


Defining your goals is always key to creating a north star for your optimization experiments. Monetization managers will always be keen to see the top line revenues increase and the key metric to grow through these refresh rate changes is ARPDEU, with additional observations on fill rate, impressions, and CPM. 


At a glance, here’s what banner refresh optimization can do: 

Refresh rate determines how often new ad requests will be generated. By lowering the refresh rate – calling for new ads more frequently – you should expect to see more impressions and a corresponding decrease in CPM. 


The placement’s fill rate will play a key role in your results when changing banner refresh rates. If your fill rate drops dramatically, this could be a sign that your refresh rate is too low – you are requesting ads too frequently and there is not enough demand across your stack to actually show users new ads at the frequency that the placement is set to refresh. If your fill rate remains strong when reducing your refresh rate, this indicates that advertisers are very interested in your traffic and would like to continue buying opportunities to show your users more ads (more impressions). 


Your challenge: Show users more ads but make sure the impressions still back out for advertisers so that they continue spending on your traffic – bring the ARPDEU! 


Time to test 

A/B testing can be set up through FairBid’s Multi-Testing tool, directly from the FairBid console. Full documentation on how to use the Multi-Testing tool can be found in our developer portal

Early findings 

We ran a test with one of our clients with a non-gaming app, primarily monetized through the banner ad format. They were running a banner refresh rate of 20 seconds and wanted to test independently through their own access to the refresh rate change feature through the Multi-Testing tool in the FairBid console. The app developer decided to half the refresh rate – from 20 to 10 seconds – on 10% of their traffic to see how this would impact their ARPDEU as well as their top line revenue. Over the course of seven days, the app saw a 24% decrease in CPM for the 10 second banner refresh variant and a corresponding 45% increase in ARPDEU. The early results look promising thus far and the publisher plans to roll out the 10 second banner refresh rate to more of its users while continuing to monitor impact across different KPIs, including retention and engagement rate by cohort. These changes will continue to be rolled out at a pace the publisher is comfortable with through the Multi-Testing tool to find the refresh rate just before diminishing returns to fully optimize their banner placements. 


We invite you to test different banner refresh rates at your leisure through our Multi-Testing tool to continue growing revenue and hitting your goals.

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