What is Active Exposure Time (AXT)?

AXT - Advanced Ad Refresh

We’ve talked about ‘ad refresh’ more than once. In here, we take you from the basics to the types of refresh triggers to the best practices. In this study, we show you how ad refresh impacts core metrics including eCPM, viewability, and revenue — after analyzing ~1.5 billion ad impressions. In another post, we help you understand how our ad operations team works to maximize ad revenue for the publishers with the help of AXT. AXT? Wondering what’s AXT? That’s what the whole post is about. 

Sidenote: Active Exposure Time is a part of our Full-Stack Programmatic Monetization Platform. Our platform gives you access to a suite of products including header bidding wrapper, AXT, and more. 

First things first, what is AXT?

AXT is an intelligent ad refresh technology that helps you to recreate 100% viewable, sought-after ad impressions on your site by constantly tracking ad viewability and tens of user signals (scrolling, clicks, hover, typing, etc.).

In other words, we help you monetize your engaged users on the site. The more your users stay, the higher your revenue will be. Confused? Let us explain. 

How it works?


Ad viewability is the basic metric that should be considered while engaging in any sort of ad refresh. According to MRC viewability standards, at least 51% of the pixels of the display ad should be visible for a second to deem the ad as “viewable”. 

Apparently, the higher your viewability, the better the eCPM. This means if you are auto-refreshing your ads every 30s, ensure only viewable ads are getting refreshed. When it comes to AXT, you don’t have to worry about refreshing non-viewable ads at all. Because AXT can’t (literally) refresh an ad without ensuring that it has been viewable. 

Active Exposure Time:

Active Exposure Time is how we determine when to make a request for a new ad. Active Exposure Time measures how long a user is staying active (engaged) on the page (in seconds) while the ad creative is on the browser viewport.

AXT will only request a new ad when an engaged user has seen the existing ad for a period of 25s. i.e., when Active Exposure Time hits 25 seconds. To put it simply, active exposure time means how long an ad is exposed to an active user. 

How do we know whether the user is active or inactive? 

AXT technology actively tracks tens of user actions including mouse movements, keyboard actions, focus events, and touch events. On top of it, we follow a certain set of conditions that helps us stop the timer (Active Exposure Time) when the user is inactive. For example, switching to a different tab, no mouse movements for a certain amount of time, drawing a new app (or screen) on top of the browser, etc. 

AXT auction: 

Let’s say when a user loads a page, an ad will be delivered as usual (via header bidding or exchange bidding or whatever technique you have enabled for monetization). Then, the AXT starts to measure Active Exposure Time. If you have set Active Exposure Time as 30 seconds, then AXT will wait until the Exposure Time hits 30 seconds before sending a request and placing a new ad on the same placement. 

Here’s a better way to see AXT in action. Download our chrome extension and go to any site and see how AXT works in real-time. Also, you can watch a short explainer video here

How is AXT different from regular refresh?

This is one of the frequently asked questions and we can understand why. Google Ad Manager offers ad refresh features in its product and as a publisher, you can do refresh based on time, user action, and events. 

Typically, publishers go with a time trigger. The problem is Google refresh doesn’t consider the user actions (activity signals) on the page. But we do. AXT essentially helps you to guarantee user attention to the programmatic buyers. 

If you think about it, with AXT, you are ensuring an active user is seeing an ad for a specific period of time. That’s attention and that’s what buyers are bidding for.  

How easy it is to implement AXT? 

It’s quite easy. All you have to do is to add a line of JavaScript on your pages. If you already are using any of our other products, then you can enable AXT right from the dashboard. No additional scripts are necessary. 

Can I target specific units? 

Absolutely. We know some publishers wouldn’t want to recreate all the units on the page. You can target specific units and run AXT across those units separately. For example, you can enable AXT on ATF units on all the article pages. As ATF units on article pages are expected to be seen by an active user, it makes sense to target them first. 

But we recommend enabling it across the site and let the machine make the decision. After all, we know for a fact that low-viewability units won’t be refreshed.  

Can I enable AXT on specific geographies?

Yes, you can. AXT can be enabled on specific geographies and devices. Want to only target U.S users on the desktop? Done. Want to exclude mobile completely? You can do so. 

Can I exclude direct campaigns from AXT? 

As you know, sponsorship and standard line items have high priorities than the price line items and so Google will prioritize sponsorship line items to ensure timely delivery of the campaign. 

But you don’t want to recreate ad impressions via AXT when a direct advertiser won the impression. Because they expect you to not refresh their ads at all. In such cases, we can simply block the AXT for specific advertiser IDs/Order IDs.

The sponsorship line item will deliver and we won’t make any ad request for the unit afterward. 

Can I change the Active Exposure Time? 

Of course, you can. Similar to how you change time (seconds) in Google Ad Manager for time-based refresh, you can change Active Exposure Time. By default, it will be 25 to 30s. You can change it to any value (preferably over 30s) and in fact, you can change the Exposure Time for the subsequent refresh as well (optional).

For instance, for the first refresh, you can set 30s and for the subsequent refreshes, you can set a higher Exposure Time. 

Note: We have seen better results for both publishers and advertisers when Exposure Time is between 20s and 30s. 

Can I run AXT for all the ad sizes?

You can. AXT supports all the ad sizes. 

What about the demand?

We run header auctions to sell the impressions as usual. If you have implemented header bidding, then AXT will request an ad from your header bidding partners. If you have employed exchange bidding, then AXT will get an ad from exchange bidding partners.

What’s Next?

It’s time publishers proactively come up with better offerings for buyers rather than reacting to the market changes. AXT is an innovative product that helps publishers like you to guarantee attention and maximize revenue per session. With AXT in place, you don’t have to focus on page views. You can focus on creating quality content that keeps your users engaged and still drive the revenue upwards. 

As AXT is purely additive revenue, hundreds of publishers have been using it for the last few years. Here are some of the case studies. In case you want to have a live demo and discuss how AXT can increase your revenue, we are just a click away.

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