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|Adsense On Home Page - Does it cheapen the look?|
How many use Adsense on home page and what do you think?
I have a question for all readers of this forum...
This question is the age old Style vs Function
- Do you use Adsense on your home page?
- Do you think it cheapens the page - but it makes money so what...
- Do you AVOID your home page but place ads on interior pages?
I have a site that is a year old. I built and let it go for a year with no tinkering.
It now places 3rd page and 4th page on most SERPs.
I have just added Adsense to the site and I am experimenting... over and over again until I get the right "formula"
What is everyone's take on this?
The home page does get traffic but it is the 2nd most requested page.
Thanks in advance
I truly appreciate everyone's help.
I have an adsense block on my homepage; it's a three-column one, on the homepage it is on the right side, on all other pages on the left.
Doesn't harm much, if you ask me - it is an info-page. My blocks are well-blended, so that probably helps to avoid too much of a tacky look, too.
In my case, some of my sites do have ads on the home page and some of them don't.
In all cases I blend the ads in so that they aren't obtrusive. I have tested with well contrasted ads and seen better results but decided the slight increase in earnings wasn't worth the damaged aesthetics.
I have moved my opinion on this over time.
I thought that ads on the front page did cheapen the site; I now don't think that is necessarily true if the ads are well chosen and positioned. (And revenue to improve the rest of the site is always welcome.) You would have to judge for yourself if that is what I am doing, but the rearrangement described below doubled my site CTR and eCPM over the last month or so.
I used to edit a paper technical trade rag and kept the format as flat and "journal-like" and "respectable" and ad-free as the publisher could bear (but we did take full-page ads on the 3 of the 4 cover sides for example).
On my main pro-bono/resources site I have been keeping the number of ads on the home page lower than elsewhere even though it is the most-visited page by new users for various reasons.
My ad serving code automatically continually rotates between different page/ad layouts testing what combinations bring best CTR, and has, with some other recent tweaks by me, settled on a relatively "ad-lite" (tower-free) format throughout the site, much like the home page, as the best earner, BUT ONLY with a blended header banner/leader and wide-strip AdLink unit.
So, it depends. But less can be more, and if in doubt run *fewer* but not zero ads on your home page, IMHO.
|But as commercial as they are, hardly any magazines have advertising on the cover. |
Depends on the type of magazine, doesn't it? Yes, magazines that go out to individuals who read them in their leisure time, from People to The New Yorker, don't have advertising on their cover. But trade magazines, such as Publishers Weekly, often make a practice of selling their entire cover. Is your site a trade magazine or a consumer magazine? Or a newspaper? Or . . .?
So I don't think you can make any valid generalizations. There will be exceptions to any rule. For example, someone said they think that the text ads would cheapen their home page, but the image ads are OK. On my site, the exact opposite would be true. Image ads would call attention to themselves as ads, since my site has few graphics, and would not look as classy as a simple little adlinks block.
What works for you is what matters. Bounce rate, as several people have mentioned, is definitely a factor. My home page has always had a high bounce rate, going back years before I joined AdSense. So why not make money from the bounces? On the other hand, if your home page does not have a high bounce rate, why distract people with ads? Get them to the content they want.
And do try adlinks as well as adblocks.
|Bounce rate, as several people have mentioned, is definitely a factor. |
Heck I've got ads on the front page. I WANT the money. No shame in admitting that. No telling how long this Adsense bubble will last so I'll catch every potential bounce-out if I can!
I WAS thinking of removing them (low CTR) until hobbs came up with this idea of adding a space above the leaderboard. Worked wonders for me and so, yeah I got a nice looking leaderboard right on my front that makes me nice dollars.
One point worth mentioning, if you're going for Joe Public, is that a lot of people still seem to believe that having Google or other well-known brands advertising on your site is actually a plus.
Wrongly, they presume you've been vetted and approved in some way (as opposed to not being disapproved later). Few casual surfers realise how easy it is to have such ads and thus think you must be a bit of a big shot.
If Google pays to advertise on your site, it must be popular right? You must really know what you're talking about and have lots of visitors...
WE know that's not the case but many surfers don't. So rather than sleazy, it can actually boost your credibility. Anyone remember the little buzz of actually "having Google on their website"?
Or maybe that was just me? :o) I don't really use adsense today, perhaps on about 3 of 20 article pages which are only loosely tied in to my main theme. I don't want my competitors on my site or the extra workload of checking and blocking. I did feel at the time though that somehow my site looked MORE professional with ads than without.
Something to bear in mind perhaps?
Here's my reasoning for no ads on my homepage of my community based site:
1) Most "casual visitors" arrive at my site via an internal page from search engines (about 90% of my traffic). These folks are searching for specific info usually only tangentially related to my topics main theme, couldn't care less what site they've landed on, almost never visit a second page, and are extremely unlikely to come back on purpose (they do frequently find other pages on my site when they search again, though). After running this site since 1998, I now have about 8,000 info and ad-laden content pages.
2) Most "serious visitors" arrive at my site's homepage searching for my site's general topic (about 10% of my traffic), and are more likely to be interested in the subject, more likely to become a member of my community and more likely to return. These folks are extremely valuable to me, and I'm not sending them away for $.10 or $.25. I'd have to pay big advertising bux to get them to come to my site. I guide them towards my community, and towards subject related content, and not towards pages that contain any ads at all. These folks are much more likely to visit 20 or 45 different pages before heading over to my interactive community.
On the other hand, I have several sites that are a compendium of knowledge, and on those sites I place ads on the homepages. The homepages re truly a portal to other pages. If they've landed there it's only because they searched on a combination of keywords that only two or more of my page's title's combined could satisfy. Click an ad there if it's relevant, otherwise they'll find the content pages, go there and hopefully click an ad there.
There's no reason for them to come back to those sites again. At least I don't think there is. ;)
In a nutshell, I guess you have to understand your site and it's traffic; the search terms people use to find that site, what pages they land on, and where they go after they land.
|One point worth mentioning, if you're going for Joe Public, is that a lot of people still seem to believe that having Google or other well-known brands advertising on your site is actually a plus. |
Good point. I think relevant display ads probably have a more positive "image effect" than Google AdSense ads do (if only because AdSense ads are so ubiquitous), but AdSense ads probably send a positive message if they're related to the site's topic*. People are used to seeing ads on the home pages of media sites (whether they're reading THE NEW YORK TIMES, FORBES, or POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY), so one could argue that a lack of ads would send an "amateur" message. On the other hand, AdSense ads on an e-commerce or corporate site might easily send the wrong message. If I were looking for a Web-design firm, for example, I might wonder about the professionalism, financial strength, and seriousness of a Web-design firm that had AdSense ads on its home page.
* For a while, I was getting a lot of AdSense ads for hotels in San Diego, Chicago, etc. on the home page of my European travel-planning site. I took AdSense off my home page and other root-directory pages for a while, and I didn't reinstate the code until I was confident that Google had fixed the problem. If such mistargeting became chronic, I'd probably remove the AdSense code from those pages for good, just because blatantly irrelevant "contextual" ads on the home page don't convey a positive image to the user.
I don't run ads on my homepage, but it's more to do with available real estate. About 15% of the people find my homepage via search, otherwise they're going to an inner page their first step, and then on to like pages or search or...
My site is more than just an information site, it relies on user interaction and submissions, so my goal is to have the user interact first, THEN click an ad :).
Only 15% of the people who visit the homepage first bounce away. While 15% more clicks would be nice, it would probably be more like 1-2% more but a lot of work to fit that ad in somewhere good.
I don't think ads on the homepage cheapen the site, I think it can definitely add value to a site in fact. One of my other sites has a couple very big, well known companies advertising prominently on it. As a user, that says to me, this site has something valuable to offer.
|This question is the age old Style vs Function |
No, the age old question is how do you maximize the monetization of your traffic. When you look at it that way, the ďadsense/no adsenseĒ decision becomes more of whether you can monetize the traffic in a wholesale fashion or in a retail fashion.
Adsense is a way to monetize your traffic but youíre wholesaling that traffic to Google who in turn sells that traffic in a retail fashion to an advertiser. Thatís how they make money; Google buys the traffic from you, marks it way up and then sells it to their retail customer the advertiser.
The more you can sell your own traffic in a retail fashion the more you will make. Now that retail could be converting visitors to buy something from your site, or produce a sales lead that you sell to a customer, or someone pays you direct for a banner, ect.
Adsense is great; itís easy and if you have traffic your not monetizing at all (which every site does is some fashion) it can fill that gap quickly. However, IMHO pursuing retail outlets for your traffic will always bring more income. Itís harder, but more lucrative. The markup Google is enjoying on the traffic it purchases via Adsense is very, very high. Take a look at what people are paying per click on overture for keywords people are finding your site with, and then compare that to what your getting per click via Adsense.
|Adsense is great; itís easy and if you have traffic your not monetizing at all (which every site does is some fashion) it can fill that gap quickly |
More important, it's incremental revenue, or icing on the cake.
I've seen absolutely no evidence that AdSense cuts into my site's other revenues (though I do include my biggest affiliate partner in the "competitive ads" filter, just in case). And there's no way that I could sell targeted ads for the hundreds or even thousands of different subtopics or keyphrases on my site, as Google does.
Side note about Overture's bid tool:
Many knowledgeable AdWords advertisers have said that advertisers (and publishers) need to take the numbers in the Overture bid tool with a grain of salt. Also, the maximum bids in the Overture tool are just that: maximums, not averages. Still, to judge from what I've seen while playing with the Overture bid tool, I'd have to say that Google's markup appears to be quite reasonable. If you're seeing a huge disparity between nominal Overture bids and what you're earning per click from AdSense, it's probably due to "smart pricing," not to an excessive markup by Google.
I run ads on my home page and always have since joining AS. It probably adds "cheapness" but, since my customers are generally cheapskates, what I sell is cheap stuff, and the "products" I review generally in the under $30 range (also cheap), I think additional cheapness enhances the overall flavor of my site.
It's all in the eye of the beholder. To some people cheap is beautiful.
Now, having astablished my high CQ (cheapness quotient), I suggest you take a look at a self-avowed "luxury portal", the Robb Report online (you can guess the URL and probably be right). Not only does this site have ads on the home page, they have a LINK to ads. Talk about tacky! (extra exclamation points for emphasis). So, can we assume that even those in the "luxury lifestyle" business have to put ads right under their customers' noses? They have to make a buck, too, I suppose, or maybe for them it should be, "another day, another megabuck."
I give Robb Report a high CQ.
As an aside, in a previous life I ran a small ad (roughly 2x2) next to the masthead of my weekly tabloid newspaper. Nobody ever complained, except for the advertisers who couldn't get that spot (it was always sold out - and paid for - months in advance). It was easily the highest priced real estate in the entire paper, triple the normal rate.
My advice, blend the ads on your homepage and be careful of placement. If placed right it will not look cheap. Remember, surfers are used to adsense ads. They are on a lot of sites homepages.
|One point worth mentioning, if you're going for Joe Public, is that a lot of people still seem to believe that having Google or other well-known brands advertising on your site is actually a plus. |
I hadn't considered this until recently when a close friend mentioned that he thought havings ads on a page made it more seem more professional.
I run ads on some home pages, and not on others. As mentioned before, my largest pulling site is only one page (database driven) and it was up and running for quite a few years before I ever put Adsense on it. It has an extremely high return visitor rate because that particular collection of community information is not readily available anywhere else, and the ads haven't stopped it being linked into all kinds of places like many "official" city government sites, the state of michigan's website, the major detroit newspapers and tv stations, etc. I've also never gotten any complaints about it, even when I was first messing around with Adsense and put in some truly atrocious ad blocks and positioning. I'm planning to completely overhaul the design, so I might try a little more blending (which has worked pretty well on some of my other, less visited sites) but on the whole, I'm kind of afraid to mess with it, because it does so well like it is. Cheapens it? Maybe. But the people are going to come anyway, because nobody else is idiot enough to put so much time and effort into compiling and serving up this particular type of content.
What we learn here is that after a cup of coffee, all of us have "great insight".
And we have (a) great hindsight, possibly, and (b) we can all be bought for about the eCPM of a front-page AdSense block! %-P
msn and yahoo have ads on there main pages ....
if you are not selling some thing and it is not a formal corporate website then i think ads are ok
Yes, MSN and Yahoo! have ads on their main pages, but look at what they are. I'd call them as being among the most blatant examples of mass-appeal sites that exist to make money, put together by "people with jobs". But hey. If you buy People magazine, enjoy Entertainment Tonight, and like Cheese Whiz, then by all means use MSN and Yahoo! as role models.
|For a while, I was getting a lot of AdSense ads for hotels in San Diego, Chicago, etc. on the home page of my European travel-planning site. I took AdSense off my home page... |
1: I wouldn't recommend making the decision based on the targeting you see from your own computer.
2: Maybe going on a limb, but I have a suspicion that some of that related but off targeting is due to what keywords some visitors are using to visit your site. My observation is that even if it's a few visitors, but the CPC is higher, then AdSense starts to show it.
3: Best way to determine the profitability is to create a channel and track it for a few weeks to a month. Then check for changes in the site's path stats and bounce away rates, as well as actual revenue.
|Yes, MSN and Yahoo! have ads on their main pages, but look at what they are. |
So do the NEW YORK TIMES, the GUARDIAN, and the NEW YORKER, but look at what they are. :-)
You had mentioned in a previous post the Bounce Away rate - that was something I never thought of.... but then again I don't have the experience you guys have....
That is a great consideration.
How would I determine that in my logs? - what would the log trails show?
Thanks to everyone for all your input - keep it coming because I am certain that we are all learning something - even though there may never be consensus - and probably shouldn't on this topic.
The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave a particular page without viewing any other page. I track my pages using several different JS based tracking solutions that show this statistic. It's always amazing to see how many visitors are bouncing away.
The flip side is that for all we really know, visitors that leave a particular page without viewing any other page could well have found exactly what they were looking for, left happy, and told their friends about it.
Another thing that's related in some site stats is Code 206 - Partial Content, found under Hits by Response Code. A 206 error signifies a page that was accessed and then closed before it fully loaded. Those aren't too flattering!
Just like everything else with websites, It All Depends...
I have one website (a review site) that does not nave any advertising, and it never will. It is built strictly on its reputation, that includes being non-commercial.
Then there are the blog type sites, where it isn't really going to cheapen the front page because, the front pages are as cheap as all the others.
I suppose that if I was going for cororate branding, and I spent a small fortune putting up an incredible home page, I might not want to "cheapen" it.
As it is, I only have one site (the review site) that has the home page as its #1 page. The next best home page is #8 in the amount of traffic, and even lower as an entry page. By the time users get to my home pages, they have already seen several pages with ads.
What is appropraite for your site, may not be appropriate for mine. It All Depends...
|Another thing that's related in some site stats is Code 206 - Partial Content, found under Hits by Response Code. A 206 error signifies a page that was accessed and then closed before it fully loaded. Those aren't too flattering! |
Or maybe those 206 errors aren't flattering to the search engines that sent the users to your pages. :-)
I suspect that a lot of users bail out on a page simply because they can tell at a glance that it isn't what they're looking for. This really isn't much different from someone's browsing in a bookstore, a clothing shop, etc. If I'm looking for a Widgetville guidebook, I might inspect a dozen before I take one to the checkout counter--and if I'm shopping for a shirt, I might look at half a dozen before finding one that's worth the bother of trying on.
Interesting discussion... thanks for bringing it up, Arctrust.
Our optimization team knows that homepages can be tricky because, as Car_Guy said, the first page sets the tone for each visit.
If you think homepage ads would support your users' particular needs and habits, why not try them out? To ensure a good firest impression, spend some extra time designing ads that really complement the look and feel of your page. You might also use fewer units, or different ad formats, than you would on another page.
And of course, use channels to test, test, test. ( [google.com...] )
Thanks for your input, everyone!
I have followed all of G's recommendations and I can honestly say... you guys have done your homework! Your heat map is fairly representative of what works.
However - style - that is a personal thing and that is what makes each site different and as such every opinion different.
|Our optimization team knows that homepages can be tricky because, as Car_Guy said, the first page sets the tone for each visit. |
Except that, as others have pointed out, the home page may or may not be the first page the user sees--in fact, it probably isn't, if the user has arrived through search.
Allow me to ask my question again:
Since I prefer "image only" ads in the front page, what is the most populated with inventory, advertiser preferred image ad size? is it still 468x60 or one of the new rich media ones?
I don't use Adsense on the first page or any other types of advertising either. I have an info site, but I still think it would cheapen the look. I think other sites can get away with it, but not mine
True. I was thinking more of regular visitors who will come directly to your site.
As for the pages that might be reached through search results, you make a good case for the importance of optimizing your entire site!
If anyone hasn't seen the heatmaps Arctrust mentions, you can find all them (recently updated and localized) here:
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