In the past we’ve talked plenty about engagement, viewability and layout optimization, and while the basics are easy to understand, making decisions can sometimes be less so. What do you do when viewability comes at the expense of engagement or when your partner policies are in conflict with the user experience? Well, there’s rarely a straight answer that works for everyone, but we’re here to give you some specific ad placement tactics that you can most likely implement right away.
Use the background
When it comes to ad placement, most often you will see publishers using the background space for the implementation of skin ads. However, these don’t really pay as well as they used to, unless you have managed to make a bunch of direct sales for such ads. Otherwise, you would probably be looking at really low fill rates and even in the best case scenario you’d be trading off real estate that way exceeds the revenue it generates. Instead, with a few handy lines of code you can use that same space for regular display inventory, that you have more control over.
In this example you can see two 160×600 sticky banners implemented properly outside the content area. The ads only display for users that have a large enough screen resolution to facilitate the placements way outside of any other elements to avoid stacking. They also don’t display immediately at the top of the page, but are instead triggered when a user scrolls down, so the page doesn’t look too crowded when initially loaded.
Here you can see what the page would look like when the conditions for displaying the ads are not met.
Ads within content
With only a certain amount of ads allowed per page it’s often difficult to figure out whether to place them within the content or in the sidebar. Both have their pros and cons, but here’s a simple method that may help you decide one way or the other.
If your articles are rather text-heavy, absent imagery, you may want to place some ads in between paragraphs. Long passages can be quite heavy on the eyes and even though advertisements aren’t part of the content, they can serve as line breaks and diversify the page visually. This is not just for aesthetic effect, but to keep users engaged for a longer period of time which consequently translates into revenue increase.
On the other hand, if your articles feature a large amount of images and other media, it may be best to keep ads out of the way and into the sidebar. Too many visuals stacked together leads to text becoming way too fragmented and unpleasant to read, which increases drop-off rates.
Utilize the comment sections
You probably know that the top section of a page features the highest engagement and while that’s certainly true, there are other areas that can also be of high value. Comment sections are an example of such, especially when the content spurs a lot of debate.
If your users are active, you can be certain that placing any banners nearby discussion boards will grant those placements decent viewability and click rates. It is best to position ads in proximity to the input field, since that’s where people would be for the longest time as they are typing. Usually the best spot is just above the first comment, but since most publishers are nowadays using third-party add-ons for the task, which they have little control over, then the preferred position is right above the widget itself as shown at the example here.
Use end-of-page instead of footer ads
Ads on the bottom of pages don’t usually sell high but they are used quite often because of the consistent revenue they provide. A popular method for implementing these is putting the tags in the website’s footer, as that makes it simpler to replicate over all the page templates. However, when it comes to the ads’ effectiveness that’s actually one of the worst places you could choose. Footers are the least visited part of a website and even for users that happen to reach the end of the feed, it’s rare for much of it to fall naturally into view. Thus, even though less convenient, publishers are better off placing ads right where their main container ends instead. It’s even better if there is pagination or other navigational elements sitting beside them as well, since they give users something to engage with and respectively keep ads on their screen longer.
Simply put you should do this…
…instead of this:
Don’t mix large sidebar ads with navigation
Sidebars are the primary dock for what’s commonly referred to as “supplementary content”, which includes all kinds of links and widgets, but most of the time it’s navigational elements. Because of its secondary nature, publishers are often under the impression that it makes little difference how they throw ads into the mix, which can be quite harmful to engagement.
You should certainly keep placing ads in between widgets to utilize the real estate to its fullest and avoid ad stacking, but you should consider which ad size best fits each location. Tall banners (such as 160×600 and 300×600) are not well suited for the middle parts of the sidebar, since they push navigational links too far apart and as we’ve already mentioned in previous posts, you profit much more from consecutive page views than individual ad clicks. It is best to keep such placements either at the top or bottom, where they won’t interfere with the other elements. And for all the breaks between widgets you’re usually better off using the more compact 300×250 size, which allows users to have an easier time creating follow-up page views and in doing so also generating more impressions.
These are just some of the most common practices we’ve established with our trusted publishers, but remember there’s plenty more to look into if you’d like to have a comprehensive ad strategy. Make sure to also consider the specifics of your own property, as with different publishers and designs not all of these may be equally applicable. And when in doubt – experiment!
Still need help bringing your website to the next level or resolve implementation difficulties? Get in touch with the PubGalaxy team today and let us lift the burden!