Seth Godin has written a post on SquidBlog about their experiment at Squidoo with moving AdSense ads from the right hand column to a more central position. As you’d expect, and as we’ve talked about here at ProBlogger many times, the click throughs went up significantly (it tripled).
But that’s not the only benefit that Seth noticed:
‘But the surprising result of the AdSense move is this: content-based clicks went UP, not down. I think I understand why, and it goes to my third point, which is a hunch, not based on data:
Having competitive products in your AdSense ads actually helps you, not hurts you.
When people get to a website, a whole bunch of things have to happen before they take out their wallets and buy something. A lot of those things have to do with trust and meaning and understanding and confidence. The vernacular of your site, the story it tells, the way it makes me feel (insecure? safe? confident? panicked? stupid? engaged?) is probably the single most important element in turning a stranger into a friend before they have a chance of becoming a customer.
So, Google AdSense ads across the top increase confidence. They’re recognizable and safe for the surfer. They make it clear that there are alternatives. They demonstrate confidence on the part of the site builder….’
I think it’s an interesting lesson and I’d be interested to see if the changes they’ve noticed are sustained (sometimes once ad blindness kicks in things change again with AdSense).
I also think that this would vary from blog to blog and publisher to publisher. I find that ads have a significantly different impact upon a site both in terms of click-through, traffic, blog interaction (comments) on different sites. The key is to test and track results to see what impact they have.