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I think the graphics attract the attention of the user though... so I'm guessing the CTR will go up
I would disagree. I would say that a successful adsense site integrates the ads into its normal layout, in a way making the user feel that they aren't clicking on an ad, rather a related link on the site.
By adding the graphic behind, apart from my concerns of free branding, the banner or skyscraper returns to the illusiuton of a normal ad which will have a negative impact on a users williness to click on the ad driving down the CTR.
Google is one of the world's best brands. In my opinion, it lends additional credibility to the advertisers.
If you paid money for a full page newspaper advert in the Times would you be happy for your media agency to run an advert for their services in the background without contributing a penny to the cost? Thought not, whats the difference?
Where you could set your own background image for the ads would be nice... and allow even better integration into a sites look/feel.
I think the graphics attract the attention of the user though... so I'm guessing the CTR will go up. As a site that runs AdSense, I would *want* the graphics on there if I had a choice.
In my experience, graphical banners are not as efficient as text ads because they do look to much like ads. Most users are so used to graphical ads that they avoid looking at them automatically because often they are no more than visual spam.
Text ads that integrate well in the site design do not look so much like ads and users end up noticing them more. If what is advertised is interesting, they will click on them.
Moving to graphical is like going back to Internet advertising stone age. It would be bad for publishers because they only get paid per click. Since most users would ignore them they would not even click them at all and the publishers would be wasting impressions on banners that would not pay.
Graphical ads are good for branding advertisers products which would not require clicking. Unless they would be paying in CPM basis, publishers would be loosing money . So, pay per click graphical banners is a bad idea in general.
They seem to be limited to those two ad sizes at the moment, and those are all the various backgrounds I have seen. I have only seen them on AdSense that was left with the default colors, I haven't seen it on anything that is customized.
If anyone notices more, let me know and I will try and get a screenshot.
[edited by: freeflight2 at 5:37 am (utc) on Mar. 18, 2004]