So I got a question this week about where to place passive ads or banners on a blog. I have spoken numerous times at conferences and thought I would put some of my ramblings in a blog post to help those struggling with why to place ads on their site and the more important question….where to place them.
First lets cover the basic type of programs that provide ads. The first is Google Adsense. It is the largest and most respected program for bloggers to earn money. The next type of program is what we like to call ad networks. There are so many of them. BlogHer, Ligit, Glam Media, Beacon, Lifetime Moms, Burst Media, I could go on and on. The problem with all of these is that unless you have massive amounts of traffic you aren’t going to earn thousands. So what this post is going to do is help you earn as much as possible with the traffic you have. We will touch on the three magic “P’s”, psychology, position, and placement rules.
Most bloggers, especially newer ones, are overwhelmed with everything. The drive to share new content, the desire to monetize, and the disappointment when hard work doesn’t yield their desired results, so my first suggestion when starting to monetize, start with Adsense. The reason, you get approved very quickly and the entire process takes 30 minutes.
So after you sign up for Adsense, it can feel overwhelming. Let me give you a little secret. I work on both sides of the fence. That means that I work with Adwords in my day job (in digital marketing) and I see constantly that three ad sizes perform better than all the others…combined. On my blogs, the same three sizes make me the most money, ergo, I will share those three sizes and why you should use them on your blog!
The best performing size is a leaderboard, 728×90. The best placement for this ad is either directly above the blog header, or directly below the navigation bar.
Now let’s discuss why it performs best. First 728×90 is a good size ad for marketers. They like the way it lays out and is one of the larger sizes available. This is beneficial to marketers because they get lots of space on your blog. A general rule with ads, the larger the ad, the more it will pay you, because more people are likely to see it and click. The only drawback, you lose a piece of your site to advertising. It’s something you must consider as a publisher.
The second best ad size is the 300×250. These are almost always in a sidebar or at the end of a post. These are rectangular and are another size that marketers just love. Why, because they can fit lots of good ad messaging into that size. It’s large and will be seen by lots of readers.
The third best ad is a 160×600. These ads generally are found in the sidebars or columns. Adsense themselves suggest these ad sizes and one other, in the video below.
So now that we have the sizes, where to place is the next logical question.
I’m just going to give you the basic places and the reasons why. First I’m going to go through some marketing jargon to help you understand how online ads work on your blog and why some perform better than others.
The first thing to understand is something called ‘Above the Fold’. It’s actually an old newspaper marketing term that referenced what people saw when the newspaper was folded. Essentially ads above the fold were valuable because they were visible. The exact same thing applies with online ads. You should try to get at least two banner ads above the fold. Why, well the simple answer is that more people will see them. What we know as digital marketers is that ads placed above the fold are 35% more likely to be clicked; they pay a higher amount, and generally perform better.
To see what your blog looks like above the fold, go to your computer, type in your blog’s URL and don’t scroll. Whatever you see is what is above the fold. Now count how many ads are on the page. The ads that you count are probably your best performing.
My suggestions without writing a 20 page essay about to place ads where and why are these:
- Place a leaderboard 728×90 above your site header or directly below your navigation or header
- Place a 300×250 in your blog’s side column OR directly after your first post in your blog’s homepage feed
- Use a 160×600 below the fold in your blog column.
- Additionally I would place a 300×250 after your blog’s content in single post view, essentially when you click into a post, you’ll want an ad after content.
I spoke for almost 90 minutes about the psychology of blog ad placement. Why place ads in certain locations for me boils down to how readers interact with my sites and how I, personally, interact and react on blogs. The bottom line for ads is this. When someone arrives on your blog, make sure you have ads above the fold for them to see. When someone clicks into your content, make sure to surround your content with ads, why, because when a reader is finished with your content, they have two basic options:
Go Forward. This means they click to another post on your blog, or click an ad
Go Back. This is generally a negative action because they are generally leaving your blog
We do many different things to get readers to move forward. From related posts plugins to social icons to promote posts. The most logical thing from a marketing standpoint, stick an ad there too! Give readers the option to support you by clicking an ad that might interest them.
One note of caution, beware of over-saturating your blog with ads. I try to keep pages to a max of 5 ads, only 2-3 above the fold.
I hope this post helps you as a blogger. I thank the commenter for bringing it up. I could go into so much more detail about this topic, simply because there is so much to say about it! If you have specific questions or experiences, pleases share them in the comments!!