Deliver synchronous ads asynchronously, without modifying the ad code. Also, conditionally load ads for responsive websites using a media query or the ad container's dimensions.
Here's a little demo. It lazily loads and unloads each ad depending on the environment, a green background and the ad should load (a timestamped image instead of real ad in the demo), red and it will unload (if loaded): Demo
Ads have long been the elephant in the room in regards to Responsive Web Design, with few providers supporting the fluid, flexible layouts that define responsive websites. Here at Madgex we deal with over 30 ad providers and many show no signs of supporting responsive layouts.
Approach 1 - Hide the ad container using CSS
It's trivially simple to hide the ad using CSS if a media query condition is met. However, this doesn't prevent the ad code from executing. An ad impression is still recorded, even if the ad isn't actually visible. Furthermore, potentially pointless network round-trips to load the ad content would still take place. This is detrimental to the site's speed and performance, especially on a mobile device.
Approach 2 - Force the ads to be flexible
Forcing images or flash objects to be flexible quickly creates illegible ads on small screened devices. Furthermore, some ad providers wrap ads in multiple layers of unsemantic, inline pixel width defined elements. These can be difficult (or highly brittle, or outright impossible) to make flexible.
Approach 3 - Wait for ad providers
Seeing as most ad providers are still using the 90's-web
document.write as a delivery technique, we're not holding our breath.
Our proposed approach
Leave ads scripts intact, but wrap them to prevent inline execution. Place load criteria on the element wrapping the ad, either using dimensions, or a media query. On DOMready, lazily inject the ads if the criteria is met.
Putting it all together
The lazy ads loader sits on top of a couple of polyfills & tried and tested open source projects:
- PostScribe by Krux Digital, Inc. overrides document.write to provide async support.
- indexof polyfill for indexOf support on older browsers (via MDN)
- Media.match media queries polyfill for older browsers.
- domReady a tiny, sturdy DOMReady implementation for older browsers.
Once minified & gzipped the script weighs in at ~6.5KB.
An additional benefit - performance
This asynchronous approach to loading ads also provides a fair performance boost for the page content as
document.write is no longer blocking rendering. This performance bottleneck has been widely documented, yet ad providers continue to use the technique.
Load the script.
<script src="../path_to/lazyad-loader.min.js" async></script>
Wrap the ad script to prevent it from running inline. The
data-lazyad attribute is a required hook.
<!-- wrap all ad scripts in a lazyad div & lazyad script --> <div class="ad" data-lazyad> <script type="text/lazyad"> <!-- AD SCRIPT HERE (including wrapping <script> tag) --> </script> </div>
Important: The HTML comments wrapping the ad script are required. They prevent the ads closing
</script> tag from closing our
text/lazyad script tag prematurely.
This ad will only load if the viewport is a screen & at least 800px wide on load.
<!-- wrap all ad scripts in a lazyad div & lazyad script --> <div class="ad" data-lazyad data-matchmedia="only screen and (min-width: 800px)"> <script type="text/lazyad"> <!-- AD SCRIPT HERE (including wrapping <script> tag) --> </script> </div>
This ad will only load if the ad container is at least 728px x 90px on load.
<!-- wrap all ad scripts in a lazyad div & lazyad script --> <div class="ad" data-lazyad data-adwidth="728" data-adheight="90"> <script type="text/lazyad"> <!-- AD SCRIPT HERE (including wrapping <script> tag) --> </script> </div>
IE7 and up, and modern browsers (Chrome, FF, Opera etc).
How to build
You need to have Node.js & NPM installed before you start.
If you don't have the Grunt command line interface, install it as a global package
npm install -g grunt-cli
Clone the lazy-ads repo
git clone https://github.com/madgex/lazy-ads.git
CD into the directory
grunt to create the distribution packages in the
Although we've had initial success in this approach we're keen to hear your feedback.
Lazy Ads is released under the MIT license.