Not All Ad Impressions Are Created Equal: Server Side versus Client Side Ad Calls

by: Nicole Lyons, on Dec 12, 2012 in Hyperlocal Publishing, Publisher Tips & Tricks

There are any number of reasons that an ad impression served up to a website (and counted by the server as having been ‘called’) might not actually be loaded onto a web page.  It might be because the website visitor clicks to a different page on the website before the page loads in its entirety, or because the ‘visitor’ isn’t a visitor at all, but rather a search bot that is simply scanning and indexing all of the pages of the website, therefore ‘calling’ each page to load but then just scanning the code for what they need and not actually waiting for them to do so.

So, while the ad is technically ‘called,’ it has zero probability of actually loading, or ‘appearing,’ on the client side.  And who wants to pay for something that is actually not being delivered?

This is why, in November 2004, the IAB and its members, with the support of major global organizations involved in the advertising and research disciplines, joined together to issue a global standard for counting online ad impressions. This was the first such standard in the online advertising industry. Virtually all large digital media organizations, ad networks, etc. now adhere to this standard.  The key takeaway is that an ad impression, even if ‘called’ by the server, is only considered viable if it actually ‘appears’ on the client side.

In other words, if you are using an ad server that does not adhere to IAB standard ad serving and counting practices — which, in the world of open platform software development and widget and plug-in creation is very often the case — your ad reports will likely show a far larger number of impressions having been served than your third-party ad serving client shows and/or than your advertiser using a third-party ad server will agree to pay for.

Additionally, when it comes to defining what are truly hyperlocal ad impressions, i.e. those ad impressions that connect the trusted, geo-contextually relevant content with a visitor who resides in the community about which the site is reporting, Local Yokel Media uses a few additional filters.  Our reports will likely show even fewer impressions that qualify as having actually loaded on a page.

International impressions, for example, are – by definition – not hyperlocal.  (They are also, more often than not, ‘spam bots’ and other non-human spider-types of page calls).

While it can be disappointing and/or frustrating for hyperlocal publishers to see a disparity between the ad impressions they believe to have served and those that we and/or advertisers actually count as having been loaded, at the end of the day, a happy advertiser leads to long-term revenue.  By delivering our advertisers tightly-filtered, truly hyperlocal impressions, they get better results, and extend their campaigns, and we all win.

In keeping with our mission at Local Yokel Media, which is ‘to bring efficiency, scale and ad performance to hyperlocal digital advertising,’ we hope this article has been useful in preparing hyperlocal publishers for successful and profitable local ad campaigns.

Have questions about the ad server you’re using and whether or not it adheres to IAB standards?  Post the name of it below and we’ll look into it for you!


Local Yokel Media delivers relevant, higher paying ads to our local and community publishing partners. If you have a hyperlocal website and would be interested in joining our supplemental ad revenue program, we’d love to have you!

Signing up is contract-free and easy as 1-2-3. To get started, click below.




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