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Users First or Income First?

An Ad Placement Dilemma

     
6:30 pm on Jul 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I invariably see people here posting CTR's of >10%, so I'm beginning to feel left out by the community's increasing expertise in ad placement optimization. Unfortunately, the format of my content is not compatible with G's heat map, i.e., putting a big square ad block at the top-center location of the content area will not look good. The upper-left portion, on the other hand, contains important links. My question is - should I give in to the temptation to follow G's heat map, even if it will disfigure my pages?

I used to run at 2.5% CTR without optimization. Then I found the heat map and did my best to apply it without sacrificing my readers' convenience. My CTR went up and is currently running at 3.5%-4% Is this dismally low? Inputs please...Thanks.

6:35 pm on July 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Heatmap , used with users in view helped me to raise CTR from 2% to 15%, and once in a while touching 20% too. I have come to realize that users ( regular users also ) have come to terms with adsense ads .

we give so much free information and content and we expect adspace . just like TV commercials now, people are learning to stay with ur site, insptie of a top and middle full of ads.

6:37 pm on July 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Good question. I'm in the same boat. I tried Googles heat map for awhile, the big "in your face square" and found it did cause a higher CTR, yet the CPM dropped.

Wasn't worth it for me, I prefer the visitors come back.

8:49 pm on July 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I tend to start every page with at least one paragraph of real content. Sites that throw adblocks in your face and that make you search for the actual content really put me off. I do optimize the ctr, but I use my gut feeling to decide how far I can go.
9:01 pm on July 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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My question is - should I give in to the temptation to follow G's heat map, even if it will disfigure my pages?

I wouldn't.

I have no doubt that I could increase my CTR and income by following the heat map better. But I'm not willing to sacrifice my page layout for the money.

That said, I have found that I could use adlinks very effectively in hot spots without screwing up my layout. It's just the difference in ad sizes between adlinks and regular ads that makes that possible for me.

But the main point is that you can put either money or users first.

My opinion about which is more profitable is that putting money first will work better in the short term. Putting users first works better in the long term.

9:19 pm on July 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Try both on some pages with similar visitor and adsense stats and see which performs better. The only thing that matters is the dollars the page makes. If you have some decent content visitors will usually forgive you for making a buck.

Also might want to remove ads from pages that get very low EPC - gives the user a break and reduces ad blindness on your site.

I try to put the ads in the hot spot and preferrably after the 1st small paragraph of text or worst case after an h1 and h2 heading. CTR went up 4x compared to left or right margin ads. No ad borders!

So far adlinks only make pennies for me.

9:27 pm on July 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I like to do what painters do, and that is work with how the human eye works, if you have a painting with a tree on the left your eye automatically slides to right into the blank space, with no holder the eye slides right of painting. Using same type of techniques I went from 5% to 20% but another thing is your going to get about 20% click on anything, if you have other options you can divide those clicks by options, the other 80% close the window. that is extremely rough esitmate mind you.
11:28 pm on July 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I opted for the heatmap.

My page may look like Quasimodo after Esmerelda ran him over with a truck, but it's making money hand over fist.

ann

4:15 pm on July 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I use the heat map as best it will fit my site and my income shot way up this month.

Just noticed on my busiest page I seem to have two targeted ads!

Great

Ann

hunderdown

4:33 pm on July 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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putting a big square ad block at the top-center location of the content area will not look good.

I agree with you--I am just not willing to put ads there, no matter how well they will do.

There's a balance to be struck, I think. I used to have a 4-unit vertical adblock on the right of pages, below the start of an article (higher up looked worse, and was easier to ignore). I moved it to the left and more than doubled CTR.

More than that I am not willing to do, but different sites have different goals.

4:45 pm on July 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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There's a balance to be struck

Enjoy your struggle with Feng Shui.

I prefer Pai Mahnt ;)

ann

4:54 pm on July 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Is that why my site feels so calming to me since the redo? LOL

Ann

5:07 pm on July 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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putting a big square ad block at the top-center location of the content area will not look good.

So true! There is a work around I have used. If you have a paragraph of text in the top center area you can use CSS to float the adsense ads to the right of the text, so the text is 70% of the width and the ads are 30% of the width. When your visitor reads the text from left to right, their eyes will go right to your adsense block. If you use this technique try either 250x250 ad layout or a small vertical 2 ad layout. This worked well for me.

5:17 pm on July 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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My opinion about which is more profitable is that putting money first will work better in the short term. Putting users first works better in the long term.

That's my philosophy, too, but what works best probably depends on the nature of the site. For example, I have an editorial travel-planning site that earns advertising and affiliate revenue from users at various stages: e.g., when they're researching destinations or trip activities, when they're planning how to get there, when they're ready to book hotels, etc. So I'd be stupid to turn readers off with a huge ad block in the middle of each page, because (a) I want repeat traffic from readers who find my site useful, and (b) presenting a friendly, not excessively "commercial" user experience is one way that I distinguish my site from big-name corporate sites whose pages are jammed with ads. If, on the other hand, I had a site that was designed to harvest traffic from SERPs and convert that traffic to AdSense clicks, I might not have any reason to worry about the user experience--I'd probably be better off making hay while the sun shines.

8:06 pm on July 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"My opinion about which is more profitable is that putting money first will work better in the short term. Putting users first works better in the long term."

Only if you care about repeat visitors...I don't, all of my traffic is from SE's...none is repeat or referral...

8:12 pm on July 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for all the inputs. Both sides of the coin have very valid arguments, as expected. I'm still trying to digest everything. I might try to go full blast with the heat map with one of my smaller sites and decide where to go from there.
 

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