There is always debate about how to design your AdSense ads. Over the last few years there has been a real shift in thinking of what type of ads work best:
Grab Attention – When I first started using AdSense there was a school of thought going around that the best performing ads were those that stand out ALOT from the rest of your blog. The result was that there were a lot of jarring, headache inducing ads out there (I remember experimenting with bright red backgrounds and yellow titles – I’m getting dizzy just thinking about them).
Blend – In more recent times ‘blended’ ads have become all the range. This is predominantly what people are doing these days and the ads involve borders and backgrounds that are the same color as the background of your site and links and text that match the site as much as possible. In this way ads don’t attract a lot of attention but merge (in a sense) with content.
Integrate – In the last 6 months I’ve noticed another shift in the design of AdSense ads being used by some publishers. It’s a fairly subtle shift from the ‘blend’ approach and one where the ad units are integrated further into the site using visual elements around them that both ‘blend’ and ‘grab attention’. This has largely happened in two ways:
- Pictures Near Ads – This integration started with people experimenting with putting pictures above/below/next to ads (Google themselves even tested it). This technique has caused some confusion and debate within the AdSense community with different publishers being told different things about whether the practice was acceptable or not. The advice I’ve received from AdSense is that you may use images close to ads as long as there is some visual element separating them (a border around the ads or around the image). Having said this I see a lot of ads without such borders that seem to be allowed to remain.
- Designer Ads – Another integration technique that has been increasing in popularity is what I like to call ‘Designer AdSense Ads’. I pointed to one blogger who did this a few months back (with the approval of AdSense). Since then I’ve seen similar techniques used by others.
In the last week I even came across a product that you can buy that will give you over 100 designer ad borders for use within your site (aff). I bought it myself to try it out and have seen some improvement in the ads that I’ve used it with. The key with designer AdSense ads is to integrate with the rest of your site. I find that when you use such borders on a site where they don’t ‘fit’ that the results (both aesthetically and with CTR) are not great.
Take Home Advice – different techniques continue to work on different sites. I have some blogs where I go with a ‘blended’ approach (like here at ProBlogger) whereas I have other sites which perform better with an integrated approach. I’ve had something to do with a couple of other sites that do better with the old ‘get attention’ approach (sites with a high loyal reader readership that suffer from ad blindness. My advice would be to start with blended ads (they are easier than integrated) but to then experiment with some of the designer ads that are coming out.
This post has been a part of the How to Fine Tune your Blog for Christmas Series.