Have you ever noticed how some digital ads work so much better than others? Perhaps you’re not even sure why. But they pop. Loading quickly. Looking crisp.

Ad Lightning reports that more than 40 percent of online ads exceed industry best practices. These fat ads slow down sites, annoying readers and advertisers alike. After all, if they don’t load, they can’t be viewed. Speed rules. People rapidly click away from sluggish pages. Lighter ads with less stuff weighing them down perform better.

Chunky Ads Hurt You in Many Ways
If files are too large, publications may not even take them. They don’t want to subject their readers to long downloads and negative experiences that might prompt them to turn on ad blockers. We all lose when that happens.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) sets a 300-kilobyte limit on display ads. Webpage advertising typically doubles a page’s load time. If ads aren’t sized properly, they can drag load time down even more. Remember, Google search prioritizes sites that run faster.

Our animated ad series for Eisenhower National Airport (left) promotes Southwest Airlines’ destinations, pricing deals and all-the-time benefits like bags fly free. Naturally, we’ve optimized these ads to work beautifully on mobile for people on the go.

Words of Caution for Your Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic ad networks and their requests can be major offenders, too. Today’s programmatic digital display ads don’t use human negotiations or manual insertion orders. Instead they go into open auctions with ad networks placing bids or requests. Software automates the work once done by humans, delivering real-time, data-based purchases. The buyer and seller agree on pricing before anything goes live.

Pieces of code placed on the ads track performance. The IAB’s guideline of 15 network calls per ad in an auction gets routinely ignored. The average is more like 60. Since programmatic advertising constitutes more than 80 percent of digital display advertising today, doing it right matters.

Piedmont Airlines’ pilot-recruitment campaign (right) deploys both static and video ads. They show how you can creatively communicate key messages – such as an advantageous east-coast location and industry-leading pay scale – while adhering to IAB guidelines.

The Reward: A Better Tool to Manage, Measure and Connect
While you can’t directly affect the programmatic ad network, you can select advertising partners that are IAB certified. Any programmatic media partner who wants to work with our clients must adhere to IAB guidelines that create a positive online experience because that directly correlates with meeting campaign goals. And we love achieving goals.

Moral of the story, check your file size before you send. Don’t let large ads slow down your ability to reap the rewards of targeted digital advertising.

The travel-assessment ads (below) we create for Executive AirShare have been very successful for lead generation. Data helps identify and attract prospects by targeting audiences similar to EAS’s current client base.

This column originally ran in the Nov. 22 edition of BlueSky News.