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Tips for increasing CTR?

My highest traffic site has my lowest CTR

     
2:07 am on Oct 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have two popular sites with very good Google listings. One, an informational site, has a CTR of usually around 5%. The other, which gets even more traffic, is a news aggregation for the same niche. It fights to get above 1% CTR, and today its CTR is .48%.

I suspect that the lower CTR is due to the fact that the news site gets more repeat visitors than the informational site, but I don't know what can be done to counteract this.

About two months ago I changed the ads on this site from blended to having a darkly colored border. CTR went up slightly, temporarily, but is back down even more now.

The site currently has two ad units, 1 120x600 at the top of the leftnav, and 1 468x60 within the content (between "today" and "yesterday" in the listings).

What would you do to try to increase the CTR? Less ad units? Different placements? Might varying the placement on the page help, or make it worse? Perhaps one placement arrangement for new visitors and a different ad placement arrangement for return visitors?

I am open to suggestion, I don't know what to try next! Thanks!

2:37 am on Oct 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps one placement arrangement for new visitors and a different ad placement arrangement for return visitors?

Display only to new visitors.

Return visitors come back for your content, NOT your adsense ads. I can only speak for myself. When I revisit a site, it's for the content. If it's a news aggregator, then I estimate my click to pageview ratio would be something like 1 : 200. That's 200 (maybe even 300 or 400) pageviews before I click on something. In other words, when I revisit a site for the content, I am blind to ads. Wasted impressions that just bring down your CTR and eCPM.

If it were me, I'd find some other ad network that works better on a CPM model.

ps. how about Adsense for new visitors and other ad networks (CPM) for return visitors?

2:45 am on Oct 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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In one section of a site I doubled the CTR and increased income by ten times by adding a vertically displaying ad unit to the top of the page. eCPM went up dramatically, too.

Previously I had a 468x60 banner in a brighter color in the spot that displayed ads horizontally. Wow, what a difference it made by changing an ad type in a couple dozen pages.

5:07 am on Oct 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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>>adding a vertically displaying ad unit to the top of the page. eCPM went up dramatically, too.

I assume that was on the left side of the page, not the right?

7:53 am on Oct 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have been to around 200 news sites today and the 160x600 adblock is the dominant choice with sometimes a 468x60 at the very end of the article with the vertical at the top.

Most sites had a white banner with black text and a square corners border with the same dark color for Headline URL and border. Mostly dark blue or dark red, a very stark and plain appearance.

If that is any help.

9:13 pm on Oct 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I would try link unit.