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Multi-Colored -- Or Just One?
webmastertexas




msg:1438205
 11:58 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I know the rule of thumb with ad layouts/colors is to experiment until you find one that works best for your site, but I was wondering:

How many of you use a rotating (re: the four color scheme that Google allows) for your banners, and how many use a single color scheme, and why?

 

eyezshine




msg:1438206
 12:05 am on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I used a 4 color scheme on one site and the CTR went down. I changed it back to "Mother Earth" and it went back up again.

ken_b




msg:1438207
 12:11 am on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

There is no "rule of thumb", no real standard for what works best across multiple sites..

On my site, the rotating background colors (3) and contrasting borders work best.

Trying to blend the ads with my site colors had a very negaive on performance.

But ad size and location are at least as important. Again, that has to keyed to what works on your site.

AZEvil




msg:1438208
 12:44 am on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've found that on my sites it works best to vary the ad formats and colors within the site, but the variation is across multiple pages and each page has its own format and color scheme that doesn't change. Every couple of weeks I go through and change which pages each format is on and it seems to make the CTR go up 1-2% for a few days then it goes back to normal.

europeforvisitors




msg:1438209
 2:04 am on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I started using the rotating colors about a week or 10 days ago, and CTR is slightly higher than it was before. It would be hard to prove that the color change was the reason for the modest increase, though.

I do like the rotating colors because they send a subliminal message that says, "Hey, the pastel blue ad block on this page isn't the same as the yellow ad block that you saw on the previous page." In theory, at least, readers are more likely to notice the ads when the ads aren't static in appearance.

webmastertexas




msg:1438210
 2:43 am on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

That's exactly what I'm thinking. A change of color reminds daily visitors of the ads, and since I have a lot of returning visitors, this will help, I think. But I guess I'll know for sure one week later, when all the numbers come in.

Lipik




msg:1438211
 1:02 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I changed from one-color to a rotating (3colors) 10 days ago and my ctr went up. I think it went up but this change, but who nows, ctr goes up and down day by day, week by week.
The 3 colors are not contrasting whith my site colors, they are from the same 'palet'. I think people who look at more than one page, they will notice the ads on the second and following pages more quickly.
My site has mostly non-returning visitors.

webmastertexas




msg:1438212
 5:27 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hmm, one day, and my CTR is way down. :(

AZEvil




msg:1438213
 6:10 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Keep testing different color schemes. Maybe the one you chose isn't right for the users. On one of my sites, I get a better CTR with an ad unit that sticks out like a sore thumb.

maximillianos




msg:1438214
 3:56 am on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, keep trying variations. I was amazed at how much the slightest change in color or border changes the CTR. For my site(s) I found that creating the ads to match the color theme of my site works best. Another suggestion, try making the ad descriptor/url a lighter color than the standard black. It helps the link/header text stand out and makes the ad look less cluttered.

wyweb




msg:1438215
 11:41 pm on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I do like the rotating colors because they send a subliminal message that says, "Hey, the pastel blue ad block on this page isn't the same as the yellow ad block that you saw on the previous page." In theory, at least, readers are more likely to notice the ads when the ads aren't static in appearance.

well said... I'm encouraged to try it now.

suidas




msg:1438216
 2:01 pm on Jan 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm interested about rotation but come at it from a different angle. I rotate my colors, but have been doing it "manually." Instead of using their rotation, I run everything through a script before I post it to the server. File 1 gets red, File 2 get blue, File 3 gets green. Then the cycle starts again--File 4 gets red, etc.

The advantage is that I can give each color its own tracking ID, and figure out white colors work and which don't.

The disadvantage is that a given page is always the same color. If a particular page is very popular it can throw off the tracking calculations.

annej




msg:1438217
 5:24 pm on Jan 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I started using the rotating colors about a week or 10 days ago, and CTR is slightly higher than it was before. It would be hard to prove that the color change was the reason for the modest increase, though.

I tried it on selected pages about when you did and at first I noticed a big improvement. Then my stats for the last week didn't look as good on my main pages. Then it dawned on me that I have a link to places people can give to tsunami relief at the top of those columns so of course fewer people are clicking ads. So many little things like that make a difference so it's hard to test. I'm going to leave it on the pages I put it on. They are all header pages for topic sections. I think with a site my size I have to test things over a longer period of time.

Rectangles embedded in my articles seems to be best right now for article pages.

try making the ad descriptor/url a lighter color than the standard black. It helps the link/header text stand out and makes the ad look less cluttered.

Great idea. I'm off to take a look at my color schemes for ads again.

eyezshine




msg:1438218
 12:30 am on Jan 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just did a 3 day test.

The first day I used the standard mother earth. I got 2.3% CTR.

The second day I used bright red color. 4.4%

The third day I changed my content around to match the adsense font etc... I also made the adsense match my background colors etc...

I got 8.9% CTR the third day and made about 8 times more money than the first day!

8 times more money is a huge amount and I plan on doing this to all of my sites.

europeforvisitors




msg:1438219
 1:46 am on Jan 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

The third day I changed my content around to match the adsense font etc... I also made the adsense match my background colors etc...
I got 8.9% CTR the third day and made about 8 times more money than the first day!
8 times more money is a huge amount and I plan on doing this to all of my sites.

That sounds like a good argument for letting advertisers have the same kind of exclude filters that publishers have. Advertisers don't want to pay for referrals that occur because users can't tell the difference between an internal link and an ad.

flood6




msg:1438220
 5:55 pm on Jan 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

In theory, at least, readers are more likely to notice the ads when the ads aren't static in appearance.

europeforvisitors, I saw in another thread your site was mentioned. I went there to see how you have your AdSense laid out but didn't see it on the first page. When I clicked on an internal link and the AdSense color changed I immediately saw the ads.

I just thought I'd throw that out as an endorsement for the point that was made.

HughMungus




msg:1438221
 10:28 pm on Jan 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

That sounds like a good argument for letting advertisers have the same kind of exclude filters that publishers have.

Are you an advertiser?

europeforvisitors




msg:1438222
 11:16 pm on Jan 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Are you an advertiser?

Nope, but I've worked for or with enough multinational advertising agencies, direct-marketing firms, and Fortune 500 corporations to know how they feel about worthless leads and shady media.

eyezshine




msg:1438223
 11:40 pm on Jan 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, the site I did the test on was a search engine so it would make sense that the CTR would go up for that kind of site. Because the google ad's are much more targeted for the advertisers.

As for information sites I am not sure but I do know that an ad get's more clicks when it sticks out like a sore thumb. Of course if it looks like a banner people don't like to click on banners anymore.

I used google's banners and sky scrapers and the CTR was super low like under 1%. even when I added it into the content.

The best format I have found is the large rectangle with 4 ads in it. then make the border match your background and the ctr goes up.

HughMungus




msg:1438224
 9:24 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Nope, but I've worked for or with enough multinational advertising agencies, direct-marketing firms, and Fortune 500 corporations to know how they feel about worthless leads and shady media.

Have you writtent to Google about your concerns over their allowed color schemes? Don't you think Google knows that some color schemes cause ads to appear more like page content than ads? Do you tell your visitors that the links in your content are affiliate links?

europeforvisitors




msg:1438225
 9:33 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

No, yes, and yes, although the latter is irrelevant because the issue here is whether advertisers are paying for unintended ad clicks. If a user clicks on an ad because he thinks it's a navigation link, the advertiser gets charged. That obviously isn't the case with affiliate links, where the advertiser pays only if the click converts.

Is there anyone here who honestly believes that helping users to mistake AdSense ads for editorial or navigation links is good for advertisers?

Undead Hunter




msg:1438226
 10:01 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just wanted to add that the "matches the site" color scheme does NOT always work.

In one section/series, when I put ads up in the "matches the scheme" fashion, they pull only *1/4* of what they pull in another section with the same color scheme. And the layout is exactly the same.

Simply put, it seems that in the lower pulling section, more viewers are there to read the information, whereas people are in more of a "search" or "buying" mode when they land on in the higher pulling section.

And yes, I've tested out putting ads on the *bottom* of the section that pulls lower. But I still haven't got anywhere near the conversion rate of the first section.

Also, I should add that CPM's in this higher-converting section have been the same (and quite high) before and after SmartPricing. So they must be bringing in good leads for the advertisers.

I would think if you do the change to that scheme, and your conversions go up but your CPM's drop thanks to SmartPricing, then you ARE "tricking people" into clicks. In which case you should stop immediately, for your sake and the advertisers!

Anyway, if you're bringing in people who aren't in a buying mode, it doesn't matter *how* or *where* you put the ads, they just won't click.

annej




msg:1438227
 10:44 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree. I do think that ads shape and color can make a difference. All you can do is try different combinations of them.

But there are so many other factors. People are less likely to click on a page of contents or a directory on the topic. Click are more frequent after they get to the article and either read it then click or decide it's not what they were looking for then move on by clicking on an ad.

Also it makes a huge difference whether the ads are what your visitors are interested in. My visitors are interested in supplies for a hobby not buying the finished product. So supply ads do so much better.

HughMungus




msg:1438228
 11:23 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

EFV, if you have a concern, you should bring it up with Google. If Google didn't want people modifying the ads to match their content or vice versa, they wouldn't let it happen. Criticizing people for following the rules is pretty pointless.

Webwork




msg:1438229
 11:47 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't think EFV needs a defender since he does a consistently noble job of defending his ideas. However, I'll add that when he observes the possibility ahem, cough, cough that some publishers are intent on

helping users to mistake AdSense ads for editorial or navigation links

he's stating the obvious, at least to some of us. He obviously cares about the quality of his content. You can tell by examining his site. Likewise, there are AdSense publishers for whom concerns about "quality of content" is hard to derive from examining their websites, beyond concluding that their guiding principal is that "the content cough, choke, gag gets indexed by search engines and people click on AdSense, that's good".

A consident thread throughout EFV's posts is a concern that Google can doing itself - and its 'publishers' - harm if it doesn't restrict or realign AdSense in some way such that quality of content can be employed by advertisers as a selection criteria when they sign-on to AdSense.

[edited by: Webwork at 11:48 pm (utc) on Jan. 11, 2005]

europeforvisitors




msg:1438230
 11:48 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yeah, and criticizing scraper sites is pretty pointless, too, I suppose. :-)

HughMungus




msg:1438231
 1:43 am on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I hear what you're saying but hey, we're all working within the rules established (or outside of them and accepting the risks). Some of the rules allow stuff that you or I don't like. I used to let stuff like that bother me. Now I just do what I can to make $$$.

suidas




msg:1438232
 4:02 am on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree with you analysis of EFV's posts and, for that matter, with his posts. When you have a lot of good content, it cost you to build it and you hope to be generating revenue from it for years to come. And the quality of the ads matter too; if good they're a benefit to your visitors; if bad, they make you look bad. When you scrape together junk you are thinking short-term. Adsense is just a target.

On the other hand, if could just be a ploy. If EFV's site ever gets shut down for fraud, half the people here will write letters in his support. Very clever. :)

There's a thin line between reducing box-blindnes through color integration and tricking people into clicking on your ads. I think Google should, however, crack down on the most eggregious examples.

Technical suggestion for Google, to improve on "conversion" numbers: Put a little JS in your ad that loads a small graphic every few seconds. Together with the server data, this should allow you to tell when someone clicks on an add and then quickly uses the back button. A high back-button percentage means people aren't really interested in the ads, and perhaps didn't even understand they were an ad.

Google can have that idea for free. But won't you consider hiring me? :)

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