Tuesday, August 08, 2006 | 12:05:00 AM
You build a site to attract visitors, but the more visitors you get, the more expensive it becomes to maintain the site. So, like many other publishers, you turn to online advertisements for revenue. But if your visitors don't find the ads useful (or worse, find them obtrusive), you could potentially end up losing both users and your revenue stream.
So for this week’s post on placement optimization, we’ll focus on the behavior, and the reaction, of users.
AdSense’s content-matching technology is designed to provide useful links and resources for your site’s visitors -- but they won’t find the links useful if they can’t find them at all!
- Take a look at each page on your site and imagine yourself as one of your site's visitors. Would he or she rarely scroll down? If so, be sure to place an ad unit above the fold. If there is plenty of engaging content below the fold, feel free to monetize the space with more ad units.
- The typical newbie mistake is to place a leaderboard at the very top of the page. In our tests, however, we’ve found that users’ line of vision typically goes straight to the area below the header. You might find that moving the top leaderboard or banner below your site’s header would most likely result in an increase in CTR.
- On that same note, there is a significant difference in having an ad unit directly after your content versus after the footer, the “contact us” link, or a chunk of white space (remember: white spaces don’t make you money!). One publisher who had a border around his articles saw a 300% increase in CTR when he simply moved his ad unit within the border. Similarly with forums, moving a leaderboard from under the footer to directly after the last post typically results in a 200% increase.
- And the best tip we have in this category is (you’ve guessed it): an embedded rectangle unit. An ad within an article can serve as a “commercial break” for users who are tired of reading. Not only are CTRs usually in the range of .5%-2%, but they’re also a popular unit for site-targeting campaigns.
As emphasized previously, you know your visitors best, so we encourage you to be sensitive to their needs and interests.
- If the content is generated by your users, e.g. via forums and profile pages, they most likely won't want their content to be interrupted by an ad. Some publishers have established a premium membership plan that removes all ads for paying members, but monetizes all non-premium member pages with ads.
- For any dramatic changes in ad placement, you can certainly try making the change to a small percentage of the site to see how your users respond. If your CTR is substantially higher with the new placement, that may be an indication that people are finding the ads useful rather than obtrusive.
- Review your page content to see if visitors would prefer to have related links after reading the content. One publisher said, “Text-based ads work especially well in placements where the user expects and wants links that are related to the main content. However, we don’t trick the user and instead experiment rather conservatively – and we concentrate on the things that matter in the end: quality of content, usability and service. If you find the right balance, you will be able to successfully monetize your website with ads while providing a positive user experience to your visitors.”