Tag Archives: Banners

Integrating Advertising into Your Web Design

If you are going to be placing ads on your website, you’ll want to put some thought into how you’ll integrate them. Poor integration of ads into your website will cause visitors to click away fast. Successful integration of ads into your site can be highly profitable. Before I show you where to position ads, I want to mention a few important points about ads.

1. Ratio of ads to content

How many ads should you place on your website? There is an optimum ratio of ads to content. If your website has too high a proportion of advertising relative to content, the traffic on your website will suffer and you will lose money. If your website has too low a portion of advertising relative to content, the sales on your website will suffer and you will lose money.

What is the optimum ratio of ads to content? I can’t point to any studies, but I feel the optimum ratio is somewhere around 20 to 25 percent ads relative to content. Go much above that ratio and, despite more ads, the revenue from your site goes down. But, there are ways to exceed that ratio and still make more money.

Ads as a service

Advertisements can provide useful information, as well as content. In that case, the ads become content. Here’s an example. Rather than post ads that pay you the highest commission, post ads that provide the best value to the visitors to your website. These are ads where the value is so good you might respond to the ad yourself. This type of ad is more of a service than an advertisement.

Another example is ads for gifts around the holidays. People expect and are not turned off by an increase in ads around the holidays. Finding gifts for everyone on your list is difficult work, and people appreciate gift ideas. Again, this type of ad is more of a service than an advertisement.

You can safely exceed the normal ratio of ads to content if you hide the ads in the content. An example of this is product “reviews”. For example, computer magazines are almost 100 percent advertising posing as product reviews.

2. Repetition of ads and ad management

I have seen websites that display the exact same banner on every page. If I didn’t respond to the banner on the first page, what makes them think I will repond to it on the second, third … hundredth page?

Displaying the same banner on every page of your website is annoying to your website’s visitors, and a money losing propostion for you. Keep your ads fresh. Ads are boring enough without repeating the same ad over and over. Display a variety of ads, and use an ad management system. An example of an ad management system is a banner rotator.

3. Ad type relative to response rate

I have heard claims that text ads receive the highest reponse. I’m sure these results are not related to whether the ad is text or graphics, but more likely related to the fact that text ads are usually placed in the more responsive areas of a webpage. All thing being equal, a graphic ad will always get better response than a text ad.

A graphic ad will get higher response than a text ad, and an animated graphic ad will get higher response than a static graphic ad. But animation can be taken to an extreme. Some types of animation are annoying and not only does the ad get a low response, but it also causes visitors to click away from your website.

Examples of annoying animated ads are banners that flash or jiggle or do something else that distracts the visitor so they can’t read the webpage content. Those visitors that don’t click away will scroll the webpage so this type of ad goes off screen while they try to read the webpage.

A secret few advertising designers know is that the graphic that will get the most attention is a picture of a human face. People are genetically predisposed to look at a human face in their view area. Try it yourself while you’re browsing the web. If a webpage has a human face on it, that’s the first thing you will look at.

Where to position ads on your webpage

To discuss where to place ads on a webpage, we need to divide a page into five sections as listed below.

  1. Header
  2. Footer
  3. Left Margin
  4. Right Margin
  5. Center column

Note: There is a sixth area of the webpage which is the popup window. There are many forms of popup windows; pop-over, pop-under, delayed, and exit. The polite way to use popup windows is the self-closing popup window. Because of popup window blockers, popup windows are much less effective today, and, from my own experience, when I tried using popup windows, the page views on my website dropped by 50 percent.

The most common position to place advertising banners is in the header section of a webpage. Web users have programmed themselves to ignore banners in this position. The response rate of banners in the header section of webpages has dropped to something like .0001 percent. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has tried to overcome this problem by defining giant (what I call “battleship size”) banners. I don’t know of any studies that show this works.

Using banners in the head section of your webpage is a waste of processor time, but most webpages still use them. Making a sale this way is a long shot. Banners in the footer section of a webpage are even less responsive.

Actually Web users have programmed themselves to ignore all advertising on the web. However, from my own experience, you can get some response from ads in the left and right margins of a webpage. Most websites are designed with the menu in the left margin and possibly ads in the right margin. This means if the user has a low resolution display, depending upon the width of the webpage, the advertising may be off the screen.

Place your menu in the right margin and use the left margin for advertising. This places the user with a low resolution display in the positon of having to scroll to view the menu. Too bad. They should get a bigger display. Website revenue comes first.

The most responsive position to put your ads is in the center column of the webpage along with the content. As visitors are reading the article on the webpage, they come upon the ad. It’s unavoidable.

If you imagine the center column of your webpage divided into three parts; top, middle, and bottom, the most responsive position for your ad will be right in the middle. As the visitors are reading the article on the webpage, they are forced to look at the ad as they continue to the lower part of the article. This might be a little annoying to the reader, but let’s hope your content is worth that slight annoyance.

I would recommend placing your ad at the bottom of the center column. As visitors read the article on the webpage, they end up looking at your ad. This is almost as effective as placing the ad in the middle of the column, and a lot less annoying to the reader.

As you can see, how you integrate advertising into your webpages has a major impact on your ability to produce revenue from your website. Poor ad integration will cause visitors to click away. Proper integration can make your website highly profitable. But, ad positon is not the only determining factor, don’t forget the ratio of ads to content, ad management, and ad type relative to response rate.

Where is online advertising going?

Discusses t he brief history of online advertising through specific ad strageis and discusses where online advertising is headed.
Is there such a thing as “traditional” online advertising? If there is, it started with banners, moved to FFAs, took a step backwards with SPAM, a hard right with classified advertising and then shot forward with pay per click search engine. So how do you know where to spend your advertising budget in the current market? If you’ve been responsible for your company’s web advertising efforts over the years you might agree that the traditional means of advertising worked; as least for a little while. So as new types of advertising penetrate the market with increasing frequency, what do you do with those proven stand-by methods of generating links and traffic? Throw them out? Keep them around for posterity? Maybe give them a facelift? Let’s review those traditional ad models then look at some experimental models. TRADITIONAL ONLINE ADVERTISING MODELS

Banners
Banner ads in the form of animated gifs are the most common and widely used form of online advertising today. Banner ads reach the widest possible audience because practically 100% of Internet users can view them without any special plugins. Web marketers, advertisers and promoters have quickly realized that banners under 12k in file size puts the ad in front of the visitor as quickly as possible, increasing the chance of click-through even though surfers are growing increasingly immune. New styles and shapes of banners (such as skyscraper ads) have grown in popularity recently, which is addressed in the “Experimental Advertising” section below.

SPAM
What does SPAM stand for? It’s not “Stupid Pointless Annoying Message” (which in some cases it could be) but rather “Sending and Posting Advertising Messages.” It’s hard to believe SPAM is effective, but unarguably, it is. While click-through rates continue to fall and legislation begins to rise, it is a savvy advertiser’s best bet to stay away from it, unless of course you’re selling Pasta Pots or Viagra. Rich mail – “Fancy SPAM”
Most likely, the e-mail messages you receive on a daily basis are text only. Rich mail, on the other hand, allows graphics, video and audio to be included in the e-mail message. When you open up a rich e-mail your e-mail client automatically calls up your Internet connection and launches an html page in your browser. E-mail clients that are offline will invite you to click on the link when you have your Internet connection open again. If your e-mail client does not support graphics you will receive the e-mail in text only. While SPAM is still SPAM, rich mail has proven to be much more effective than standard text messages.

Pop-Ups/Pop-Unders:
This creative, yet completely obtrusive and annoying means of advertising was once celebrated in some circles as the most innovative ad concept since banners. It only took a short time before many users, sick of being trapped in a never-ending onslaught of such ads, voiced their rejection. One can only wonder when advertisers will recognize the public dissatisfaction and move on to another more effective means to promote their companies.

Institutional Advertising:
While institutional or “in-house” advertising has been available since the inception of the Internet, few companies have made an effort to utilize the many different aspects of online advertising in one format as has 7Search.com with its Direct Pay-Per-Text advertising. 7Search, a leader in the pay per click search engine arena, has recently introduced this program which enables its advertisers to advertise outside of its search return lists using the same titles and descriptions seen on its search engine. The pay-per-click model enables interested advertisers to leave behind the CPM impression model and focus on the click conversions. Direct Pay-Per-Text is a patent-pending concept from 7Search which will be released to the general public in the coming months.

Pay-Per-Click Search Engines
It’s hard to think of PPC search engines as a “traditional” means to advertise online, but the ratio of those advertisers who do versus those who don’t is staggering; in fact the majority have at least tried their hand at leasing traffic. In a PPC agreement, the advertiser only pays for qualifying clicks to the destination site based on a prearranged per-click rate. The response on ads with well-written titles and descriptions targeted to the users query pull response rates unseen in the ad industry previously. The greatest advantage arguably is the ability to measure precisely the rate of return versus your investment. Some of the most popular PPC search engines are FindWhat.com, 7Search.com, Ah-ha.com and the industry leader Overture.

EXPERIMENTAL ONLINE ADVERTISING MODELS

Traffic Exchange Advertising:
Hit exchanges, actually a form of banner exchange, are a recent phenomenon on the Internet. You will visit the site of a member of an exchange, and in exchange, another member of the exchange will visit your site. The recent explosion of hit exchanges on the web has diluted the effectiveness of such a method of advertising. There have also been many instances of cheating, in which a script is used to generate visits to a site. However, if you have a product that is of interest to webmasters, and is low cost or has a free version, there is no harm in giving hit exchanges a try.

Shockwave ads
Shockwave is best suited for campaigns that want to utilize out-of-banner real estate, such as applets, trading cards, and games. Director and Flash provide the ability to embed interaction, video, and audio within the file, making Shockwave files some of the richest ad units on the Web. Viral marketing and strong brand interaction are two of the key strengths of Shockwave ads. As these ads are typically “bandwidth monsters” the adoption has been slow and will most likely remain that way. Other downsides include development costs and the fact that it just won’t work without the Shockwave plug-in, which (though downloaded by millions of users) is far from being a mainstay.

Interstitial ads
Interstitials are ads that play between pages on a website, much like television ads play between sections of a program. There are several variations on the interstitial model: some play in the main browser window, while some play in new, smaller windows; some are pre-cached, while some stream ad content as it plays; some provide the ability to create very rich ads, while some focus on smaller, faster-loading ads. Whatever the format, nearly all interstitial ads perform very well if measured by both click-through rates and brand recall.

Floating ads and DHTML
Types of floating ads include DHTML sponsorships, in which advertising objects “fly” across the page on a preset course; cursor sponsorships, in which the cursor turns into an advertising image; and scrolling ads, in which an advertisement moves up and down the edge of a page as the user scrolls up and down. Floating ads give the advertiser and publisher the flexibility to achieve nearly any effect. However, as this is one of the more daring types of online advertising, advertising and content must be balanced on any given page. Floating ads (especially DHTML and cursors) are best run for short periods to create brand awareness—running them for longer periods can bring negative user feedback. It is important to understand that online advertising is only effective if it generates significant response and this applies to both traditional and experimental ads. Unfortunately, the only way to discover the efficiency of your campaign is to test in every format at least once with as many ads as you are able.

Blogging for Dollars

Blogging for dollars might sound like the latest game show or some new drinking game, but it’s the latest craze to hit the Internet. Bloggers began blogging for a number of reasons, but as the blog movement has increased in popularity, they have found ways to monetize their blogs and are seeing their commitment pay off.

Whether a blogger’s focus is to communicate with customers or just to have fun, they have begun looking at ways to earn revenue from their blogs. The most popular ways for bloggers to earn some added cash for their pet projects are:

1. ) Google Adsense in Blogs

Google AdSense allows webmasters to dynamically serve content-relevant advertisements in blogs. If the visitor clicks one of the AdSense ads served to the blog, the website owner is credited for the referral. Webmasters need only to insert a Google-generated java script into the blog or blog template. Google’s spider parses the AdServing blog and serves ads that relate to the blog’s content. Google uses a combination of keyword matching and context analysis to determine what ads should be served.

2. ) Affiliate Programs (Product Endorsements)

Affiliate Programs work when an affiliate web site receives income for generating sales, leads, or traffic to a merchant website. Generally, bloggers will mention or endorse specific products and if site visitors purchase the product, bloggers will receive a portion of the sale.

3. ) Product Promotion

Businesses use blogs to detail how specific features or product add-ons can increase functionality and save time. Content-rich product promotion will help with search engine placement.

4.) Banner Ads

While less popular than in the past, websites with high traffic levels can still earn decent revenue by selling banner space.

As the Internet evolves bloggers will continue to seek out ways to monetize their opinions and thoughts. Daily journals and online blogs have become more than just a communication means to many.

Pay Per Performance Web Traffic

Why should you pay to get web site traffic, isn’t SEO enough?

It’s a fair question – after all most businesses on and offline have tight budgets to play with and need to make each and every penny count.
So why should you as a business pay good money to drive targeted traffic to your site?

Perhaps there’s a clue in the last question.

What other options are there?

You have 3 basic choices to get traffic to your website:

1. You pay – using PPC, ezine ads, banners etc…
2. You borrow – constructing Joint Ventures and endorsed offers with partners
3. You grow your own – with natural search engine optimization

So which is the best?
———————

Well they all do a different job and have different characteristics.

But why PPC?

You need PPC because you can:

* Control the flow of traffic to your website
* Target buying customers and those most likely to buy through correct keyword targeting
* Test different offers

The last benefit above is perhaps the most important. Remember a page on a website doesn’t have to stay recorded online forever…

Just because you’ve completed your site in terms of the pages you want to add (although in truth you’ll never be finished as you can continually add more related content), this does not preclude you from testing other pages…

The value of testing
——————–

Simple scenario: You want to test 2 price points for a product/service. (Yes you can do this and people don’t have to know about it so don’t be worried).

With a PPC campaign you can have your normal web page (Page A) sitting as normal at the well known web address with all of your normal links pointing to it.

You 2 price point test pages (Page B & C) are a different kettle of fish – they sit off to the side and you push traffic to them using PPC to quickly determine which is the winner.

You can do this for any test you dream up, the bottom line is you can quickly determine what is working and what is not in your marketing.

Knowing what’s not working is more important than what is (particularly if you are sailing close to the wind) because you SAVE money you would otherwise have thrown away.

The Affiliate Advantage
———————–

When you have a website that is converting well, you will be able to attract many affiliates (and even super affiliates if you are doing a good enough job and providing a good enough incentive package).

Affiliates can make your business explode overnight if you have done your homework and have the site converting well.

If you have not you may attract them, they may pump some traffic and then they will disappear to pastures new when they see you are not doing a good job.

In summary
———-

If I could give you one reason why you should use PPC and in particular Google Adwords as part of your internet marketing campaign it would be this:

“Feedback fast, feedback cheap”

Yes you may spend a little money up front, but you can save yourself a whole lot of heartache on the back end.