Will Infinite Scrolling and Lazy Loading Help Publishers?

If there’s anything that can convince you that times are changing –again–in the online advertising business, it’s the relatively new practice of “lazy loading” pages. Unless you’re deep in the weeds of the business, you may not even know what this term means, but it is a new way to make pages load faster, and ironically may also be a way to make ads more visible.

In the old days of web design, the job of a good browser was to load an entire web page at one time, no matter how many outside calls and redirects the server has to make, as quickly as possible. Even if the user isn’t on that part of the page, the browser would load it anyway. That’s why everyone demanded to be above the fold.

But web design has changed. Now there’s just in time loading, or “lazy loading,”  a relatively new method of web design that renders the page on an as-needed basis,  only when a user is scrolling down to that piece of content.

Lazy loading pages are perfect for our InView Slider formats, which work especially well on web pages that are designed for infinite scrolling (which most new high traffic sites favor.)The content available to the user isn’t all loaded at once, because it would take forever; rather, the page renders as the user scrolls to it, and if you don’t scroll down, the content isn’t rendered.  So lazy loading any web content, ads included, means the web server only provides the necessary source code to the browser as the user needs it.That’s what makes our InView Slider so “polite.”

The New York Times switched to lazy loading and achieved a 50% improvement in the performance of its pages. In its blog, the Times said it switched to stop its pages from being slowed down by advertising.

Why is this good for viewability?

From the publisher standpoint,

aside from the performance benefits of lazy loading ad content … is the happy consequence that every ad view is also visible to the user, since the content is only rendered when the user is scrolling the content into view.  While it’s true there’s still a lingering debate over how viewability is measured – this Digiday postgives a good overview on the complexities of each viewability vendor using different methodologies to measure the same MRC standard (50% of the ad content in-view for at least one second) – there’s no question that a lazy loading strategy is far superior to traditional content rendering in terms of ensuring your ad requests are viewable.

Although viewability metrics probably won’t be the gold standard for billing in the near term, eventually they probably will be. The downside of this is the potential loss of inventory to the publisher. However, lazy loading their pages could let publishers  keep user-friendly page layouts and not worry as much about 3rd party viewability measurement. And, of course, the viewability would improve even further if the site published high quality content that encouraged engagement.

It’s funny how everything boils down to high quality at the end of the day.