Paul writes a great post at Less Options Equal More Clicks? where he ponders a number of factors of blog design and how they impact ad performance. He particularly explores the idea that if you give your readers less options to click on (ie links out of your site) that they are more likely to click your ads.
There is some real truth and wisdom to this statement – it’s pretty logical if you think it through.
However when I took a look at my Adsense statistics this afternoon it struck me that the pages that I have that have by far the best CTR are perhaps some of the most cluttered pages that I have on any of my blogs. They are page with other text ads, links into the rest of my site, links to affiliate programs and links to my competitors. Logically speaking these pages should not be performing as well as they are – but they do!
Ok – so if I’ve found a good thing – the way to get a hight CTR – shouldn’t I just replicate that on every one of my blogs and watch the cash roll in?
I wish it were that easy. You see I’ve tried that. On a number of my other blogs I’ve attempted to replicate the design and ad placement from this successful format – the results were disappointing and proved to me that every blog is different. Some blogs perform brilliantly with ads placed inside content, others do better with ads in a side bar, others seem to go brilliantly with ads around the comments section – some do well with competing links, some do better on pages with no other options but to click on the ads.
A couple of days ago I mentioned that Adsense seemed to be offering personal optimization of Adsense ads. I decided to sign up and emailed in a request for them to look over a couple of my sites. Today I got my reply – an email with a few suggestions. They were pretty basic – standard responses that showed that they had looked my sites over, but that didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know. However the interesting thing was that they recommended that I move my best performing ad!
He said to me that they found on most sites that the type of ad I was using in this position would perform better if I moved it.
The problem is that I’d already tried the position that he recommended and that it did only half as well in that position and format.
The take home lesson is that whilst many of us make suggestions of what we’ve found to be successful – and whilst there are some general principles that usually come into play – there are no real rules. Every blog is different and needs to be experimented with and just as importantly have its results tracked.