Today marks the 15th birthday for digital advertising. Which means banner ads are just a year away from a driver’s permit. Scary thought. Adage has an interesting article on the first online banner advertising campaign.
So while I haven’t been doing banner ads for 15 years, here are some pointers on if you’re putting ads up on your site.
- Know your audience – It is worth doing one site surveys, some pixel tracking and other sometimes seemingly fussy activities on getting to know who is on your site. It’ll help you optimize AdSense, what other ad networks might makes sense, and help immensely with direct sales. And direct sales are where higher CPMs are.
- Design layout with ads in mind – Don’t throw your ads on the page without regard to design. If your ads are integrated with the page, they will perform better. To some extent you’ll need to put ads near content where it’ll interrupt your users. But good design can minimize how annoying your ads are.
- Ads along the outside perimeter of the page get lower CTR
- Ads above the fold command both a CTR and a branding premium
- CPL vs Branding – There are two very different types of people that buy direct sales. There’s CPL, people who are looking for leads or conversions. Then there are people looking to help with branding, and the two are basically opposites in terms of what they look for. Figure out if your site performs well for either and shoot for that one. Don’t put too much effort into the other
- Tweak Adsense – From ad sizes to color schemes to channels, sometimes small changes can make a big difference. If you can break out traffic into segments that advertisers really care about, then they’ll bid up the CPM. PlentyOfFish excels at this and offers different demographic segments that really help drive advertisers to spend more without having to increase inventory.
- Get creative with ad packages – Yes there are homepage takeovers, but you have to be a size-able site in order to get people interested. There are other little things you can do such as roadblocks that are simple but can be effective. Custom units are tricky because advertisers dislike having to make custom creative. But you can throw it in as a value-added (read freebie) and offer to design it yourself. If your custom size is small and/or has a photoshop template, it can be pretty quick and easy. Custom spots are good for tapping into site specific mechanics and can have pretty good CTRs