Here’s a quick tip on ad placement that I’d like to pass onto bloggers – particularly those experimenting with AdSense.
Ensure that your content can be seen above the fold.
That is – ensure it’s above the fold if you want readers to keep coming back to your blog.
One of the important choices that faces many bloggers is how to place Ads aggressively enough to get click-throughs but subtly enough that the rest of the page doesn’t suffer as a result.
One of the trends that I’ve seen increasingly on blogs is to place large AdSense ads in the center of pages right above content.
In doing so they content it self is quite often pushed down so far the page that scrolling needs to happen in order to read it.
I totally understand why bloggers do this – in fact it probably comes from the advice of AdSense themselves in two ways.
The advice from AdSense:
1. Ad Placement – AdSense have produced a ‘heat map’ which shows where they have found that ads perform best (see left).
The more orange that a spot on the page gets the more attention it will get from readers.
Obviously the best place for an ad on this heat map is right above content – dead centre on the page.
2. Rectangle Ads – The other advice that AdSense gives repeatedly is that rectangle ads (either 300×250 or 336×280) tend to perform best. They do well because of their size but also because they come in text, image and video ads.
AdSense is completely right with both of the above piece of advice. Ads close to content work great and rectangle ads do perform really well in comparison to some other ad units.
However – take these two pieces of advice together and put them into place on many blog designs and you set your readers up for a problem.
The result is that quite a few bloggers end up with pages that look a little like the image to the right:
I’ve even seen some pages with two (and once three) rectangle ads above the content. Depending upon the size of the screen that your readers are viewing your site on there might be a little content viewable – but the majority of it is generally below the fold.
While this does give you a decent chance at a good CTR it also gives you a decent chance of having a visitor to your site head straight for the back button on their browser and never return.
While I’ve talked numerous times about how placing ads prominently on your blog increases the chances of someone responding to those ads – the same principle applies to content. Hide it away at the bottom of a page and people are unlikely to respond to it which will lead to:
- few loyal/repeat readers
- few incoming links from other bloggers who like your content
- few people bookmarking your site on social bookmarking sites
- low comment numbers
So what’s a blogger to do?
In the end bloggers need to make a choice. Which is more important to you – high CTR from readers who never come back or high reader satisfaction?
Which comes first and to what extent?
I’m not going to put push my own preferences upon readers – in fact for me on different blogs I have different priorities – however this is an important issue to grapple with if you’re going to run ads on your blog.
Some Alternatives to consider might include:
- Smaller Ad Units – prominently place but smaller units might allow more room for content
- Single or No Sidebar – having just one sidebar, or even going without one altogether allows you to have a wider content area and still have a prominent and large ad unit
- Wrapping Content around Ads – one of the good way to get both ads and content prominent is to inset ads into the content and allow the content to wrap around it
How prominent are your ads? How prominent is your content? Which takes the prime position and how did you make the decision? I’d love to hear how you place your ads.