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Checking my news this morning I stumbled upon This Silicon Alley Insider post. The post has a simple AJAX application inside of it which lets people page through the “Top 10 iPhone Apps for Students”:

What’s interesting about this application is that every time you page left or right it refreshes both the 728×90 ad unit at the top and the 300×250 on the right — with no timer. Try it… in the span of 2 seconds I managed to get 20 ad views on this page — almost all for American Express and IBM. Complex AJAX applications pose an interesting challenge for publishers — think a live flash based stock ticker or Pandora — if someone is staring at a web page all day but doesn’t actually navigate away, it certainly doesn’t make sense to only show them a single ad. This on the other-hand seems to be taking that to another extreme. I mean, come on, most blogs will simply post a list of 10 applications and not a silly widget which appears to only be there to generate ad-views. Here’s a little snapshot from my HTTP sniffer:

Now the IAB recently published guidelines to specifically address this issue in their IAB Rich Internet Application Guidelines. I thought I’d go check these out, find a quote that specifically addressed SIA from showing 20 ads within just a few seconds. Guess what… technically SIA is following the rules:

User activity considered significant enough to trigger ad-counting is as follows:

Mouse Button Usage
Keyboard Activity, Typing (except when used to navigate away from the page alt-tab, etc).

This counting method closely resembles the current IAB Ad-Impression counting guideline because of the clear linkage of certain pre-identified user-initiated events with ad counting.

This highlights a typical problem with IAB guidelines. There are so many parties voicing opinions in the working groups that they are made to be so broad that following them doesn’t really mean anything.

Having my eye on dynamic applications today I noticed that Facebook has implemented ad refreshes while browsing photo pages. This makes a lot of sense to me, users can spend a significant amount of time browsing photos and it certainly makes sense to refresh the ad-content after a certain amount of time. It looks like they’ve set a 60 second timer, and only refresh ads if a user actually clicks through to a new photo after that timer has expired — much better!

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