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Will CTR impact by adding 'advertisements' / 'sponsored links' labels

Will labeling ads as ads decrease CTR?

     
5:08 am on Jul 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

There was a post in google's official forum where they had said one can't label ads other than 'advertisements' or 'sponsored links'. I have two questions on this :

a) As of now I have no label above my ads. However I try to add post date or category tags as separators between ads and title. Is this a good practice ?

b) Most important question is will labeling ads decrease CTR ?

Please someone help.
7:05 am on July 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I do not label them just because it wouldn't fit well into the rest of the page, although I have em separated as not to blend in too much. You can test to see if labeling them de- or increases CTR. Not for a day but at least a week and keep good records.
But the results may vary from site to site (or even page to page).
9:16 am on July 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hi Johnmoose, what separators you use to differentiate ads. Do you use horizontal lines, date, category tags etc. something like that ?
12:21 pm on July 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Personally, I put a border around all AdSense ads. I don't want my visitors confused as to what is content and what isn't. I do this for the same reason I limit advertiser animated .gif files to 5 cycles (and I put that in bold in ad contracts). It degrades the user/visitor experience. People tend to hang around because within a minute there are no distracting moving objects on the page.
1:42 pm on July 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hi Elsmarc, even if you have a border around adsense, and you place it below title, the title could be thought of as 'misleading label' for the ads according to google policies. I think a safer option would be adding label 'ADVERTISEMENTS' in gray small font. Am I sounding correct ?
1:47 pm on July 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Would really be helpful if well experienced members and moderator can offer advice ?
2:48 pm on July 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I've always labeled them as Advertisements, since we started Adsense in 2003.

Even the large rectangle in the middle of the content, I write something like article continued below advertisement to help users distinguish the ads from the content

And our users seem to appreciate it -- and more importantly, click on the ads. Our CTR is a healthy 4-5%, though down from the 10% we would get before Adsense changed their policy of clickable areas in 2007. But through it all, our presentation of presenting the ads as ads to our users remain the same.

Try it -- the key is to experiment and then see the results
3:02 pm on July 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Alika, that sounds helpful and encouraging.
4:33 pm on July 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Careerskk: I use category tags and horizontal dotted lines to separate them from the rest. For example a vertical menu with a skyscraper ad and the dotted line. This keeps them apart. The colors of the ads match those used on the site so they blend in nicely without trying to hide them.
The ads are already labelled as ads so I kept it that way.
6:39 am on July 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hi Johnmoose, Yes I think that should be fine enough. However I am beginning to get convinced to add 'sponsored links' label so that I can stop worrying for the rest of my adsense life :)

Hi Alika and other senior members, Can you please advice me whether I am heading in the right direction ?
11:10 am on July 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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careerskk: "Hi Elsmarc, even if you have a border around adsense, and you place it below title, the title could be thought of as 'misleading label' for the ads according to Google policies. I think a safer option would be adding label 'ADVERTISEMENTS' in gray small font. Am I sounding correct ?"

Where ever I have a "title block" for AdSense (such as in a sidebar) I put in "Sponsor Links". I haven't even looked at Google's guidelines in the last couple years so I don't know what their current wording is telling you what label(s) you can and can't use.

I use a contrasting font (such as white letters on a dark blue background). I personally would not use a gray font on a white background. I want it clear they are ads. I make sure adds do not blend into the page and that they are very obvious. As I said above, I put a high contrast border around every adsense unit. I've done this since I started with AdSense back in 2003 and they've never said anything about it, and that includes back when Google reps would contact me with 'suggestions' on improving my income (they would actually do markups of the page and such, particularly for ad position). I don't know if they even do that any more (I doubt they do unless you are a seriously major customer). But I only took their advice on a couple of things.

My theory is that to a visitor it is important to distract as little from the content as possible. If a visitor sees an ad they're interested in they'll click it (as opposed to what many sites do which is blend ads hoping for click throughs by people mistaking an ad for an internal link or something). I'd rather have a low CTR with high follow throughs than a high CTR with high abandonments.

I can't say my methods are 'correct' for you. I make in the high 5 figures yearly from my sites so I'm a happy camper with my methodology. I focus on good content and good visitor experience.
1:14 pm on July 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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My only advice: test various configurations to see which one works best for you.

You'll never know for sure till you test it -- e.g. put labels, don't put labels, blend ad in the content, use gray labels, use contrasting color, etc

Your experience may be different than mine :o)