Over the past 6 to 12 months the 125 x 125 pixel advertisement has emerged onto the blogging scene as a fairly common means of advertising.
I don’t know who did it first – but there are hundreds (if not thousands) of blogs using it. Some of the more prominent ones include TechCrunch, Read/WriteWeb, CopyBlogger and John Chow – but there are many hundreds others. In fact over at b5media we have them on all of our 250+ blogs.
Why 125 Pixel Ads Are Worth Considering
125 x 125 ads are an attractive option for bloggers and advertisers on numerous fronts:
- Bloggers tend to like them because they fit well into sidebars (either in a single vertical line or side by side)
- They give the option to sell multiple ad units in the space often reserved for one larger ad (four 125 x 125 ads fit nicely into either the position of a skyscraper or large rectangle ad). Generally selling 4 smaller smaller ads will bring in more than selling one larger one
- Many medium to smaller level advertisers like them because they are cheaper than a larger ad and they can have their ad appear on multiple blogs for the same price as a larger one on one blog.
- Increasingly affiliate programs are offering publishers 125 pixel ads – these can be run in unsold ad spots so that they can be monetized even when the full stock of ads are not sold.
Should you run 125 x 125 ads on your blog? Balancing the Arguement
There are some good reasons to experiment with 125 pixel ads – however it’s not all plain sailing.
There are a number of things to consider before moving to this format:
- They work better in some industries than others – in my limited experience of selling advertising I’ve found that each industry has it’s own preference when it comes to ad unit size. I was chatting to an advertising agency last week about them buying a banner ad on one of my blogs and when I suggested 125 pixel ads there was silence on the other end of the phone. The rep had never sold a 125 pixel ad – his industry dealt almost exclusively in large banners, skyscrapers and rectangle ads. 125 pixel ads tend to be something that tech, web 2.0 type advertisers prefer – perhaps it’s expanding to other industries – but many still operate in more traditional sizes.
- Mainstream advertisers are still catching up – similarly, I’ve found that even in the tech web 2.0 space, many larger advertisers prefer more traditional ad sizes and some are not set up to sell anything else.
- It takes more work to sell four ads than one – While selling four smaller ads can bring in more revenue than selling one larger one – there are more costs involved in selling four – particularly when you consider your own time in making the sale and administering the ad. This is of course if you can sell any ads at all. Selling one ad and having three empty spots can be quite disheartening.
How to Use 125 pixel Ads on Your Blog
A few pieces of advice for selling 125 pixel ads:
Have some filler ads in reserve – if you set aside four ad 125 ad units in your design then be prepared to have some unsold inventory for periods of time. There are a number of options here:
- you could run an affiliate program (if you can find one that fits with your niche)
- you could run an AdSense ad here (they offer 125 sized ads (although a text ad might look odd next to other image based ads)
- you could run a Chitika ad unit (again they might look odd)
- another option is to run an internal ad (an ad that points to different parts of your blog/site)
- you could run an ad swap here – arrange for another blogger in your niche to run their ad there in return for you running one on their blog (to swap traffic)
Prepare an ‘advertise here’ ad - another option for a filler ad is to prepare an ad that advertisers the opportunity to advertise in that position on your blog. Point this ad to an ‘Advertise page’ on your blog which has information on the benefits of advertising on your blog. It can also be worth to have another link or small ad near these ads that points to the same page for when all ads are sold out.
Look at who is advertising elsewhere in your niche - if you’re struggling to find advertisers for your blog a good idea is to keep track of who is advertising on other blogs and websites in your niche – particularly those advertising using 125 pixel ads. If they are willing to advertise on your competitors blogs then they are likely to consider yours too.
Positioning is Everything – on my old template here at ProBlogger I was forced to have my 125 pixel ads below the fold. I did this reluctantly because there was no other room for them and was keen to get them up in a more prominent position with the redesign (in fact it was one of the main reasons I did the redesign). Having them below the fold gave a poor conversion for advertisers which resulted in being able to charge less and struggling to get advertisers to renew their ads. Moving them up the page helped significantly.
Consider your Competing Ads and Affiliate Programs – one thing to carefully consider is how many other ads and affiliate programs to include on your blog. This is worth considering on three fronts:
- Too many ad units on your blog can be detrimental on two fronts. Firstly it can crowd out the content and disillusion regular readers while putting off new visitors to your blog. Some blogs have so many ads that their content is pushed way down the page and effectively hidden.
- Too many ads on a page dilutes the conversion that advertisers get. If an ad is one of four they have a much higher chance of being noticed and clicked on than if the ad is one of ten.
- Some blogger miss out on being able to sell ads by running affiliate programs or AdSense on their blogs. The problem with running an affiliate program on a blog is that the program you are promoting via that program might decide that they don’t need to advertise on your blog. This might be a good thing if the affiliate program pays out more than the advertising would have – but it could also be costly. Running AdSense on a blog where you’re trying to sell ads directly can also hurt you because in some cases it’ll be much cheaper for the advertiser to advertise on your blog using AdSense. Remember AdSense takes a cut of what the advertiser pays – so you could potentially be losing out quite a bit. This all needs to be monitored and you need to do some analysis of which monetization technique is best for you.
Feature Advertisers - one way to add some value to those advertising on your blog using 125 pixel ad units (or any type of advertising) is to give them a little extra attention by periodically featuring advertisers on your blog in a post. Disclose what you’re doing so that readers know that you’re highlighting paying advertisers – but do it both to give your advertisers extra value (increasing the chances of them renewing their ad next month) and as a means of attracting new advertisers.
Have Your Say on 125 Pixel Ads
What do you think about 125 pixel ads? Do you run them on your blog? Why or Why not?