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Thinking about putting 728 by 90 block under site title on a site

But worried it may be penalised for having too many ads

     
7:13 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I average around 4% CTR on this particular site with a 360 by 280 block embedded in content, but I am sure I can boost the CTR to 6% to 7% (increase it by another 2 or 3 percent) by having another ad under the site title (header). However, I am worried it may start to be seen as an MFA by Google search even though it is a pretty good site and averages 2 page views per user and also the average time spent on the site is pretty long.

But having ads quite close to each other (one under the header and another one embedded alongside the first paragraph) may be seen as too ad heavy. I am also worried potential increase in CTR may end up lowering the ecpm (which isn't anything special but not bad, either). Then again, it was the adsense team who actually sent me a message recently asking me to replace the 460 with a 790 ad on another site, suggesting it would significantly boost my ecpm, which it certainly did. In fact, significantly more than they estimated.
7:17 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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From the Inside AdSense Blog [adsense.blogspot.com]

1. Ads shouldn't be placed under a title or section heading in a way that implies that the ads are not ads.
For example, ads shouldn't be placed under titles such as “Dallas Business Opportunities” or “Today's Hot Deals”. Placing ads directly below titles such as these implies to your users that the links in the ads are publisher-created content. The example below shows a placement that does not follow this guideline.
7:26 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Just my opinion... If I averaged 4%, I would simply look at ways to get more traffic to increase earnings, than take ANY chances of harming a sites reputation with another advert.

I'm with ya on the higher CTR, believe me, but if you are not suffering from the last year of Algo updates, I think its crazy to change page stuff around.
7:36 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You can try splitting the difference by placing a social bookmarking ("share this page") link and/or row of SB buttons below the title but above the leaderboard (728X90) ad. That's what I'm doing, and I'm comfortable with it. Also, my titles aren't really commercial in nature, which helps avoid confusion about whether the ads are actually the beginning of the publisher-generated text (article). Applying a border and/or a color that is different than your page background would help as well to avoid confusion -- but might reduce the CTR a bit.
8:03 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'm with mhansen, 4% is already very good, adding bigger ads to get even more might be MFA territory, which, in these recent times, is just an invitation to get pandalized.
8:31 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The ad would be under my own site title i.e. under the site logo/header area and not under article/post title. There would definitely be no confusion as to what it it is. There is no problem on that front.

However,I am still in two minds on this. Given the May decrease in adsense earnings, I am thinking this might help recapture some of the lost earnings, but on the other hand worried it may trigger some kind of penalty and demote rankings because it may be deemed too ad heavy, and like some of you say, why potentially damage the site's reputation this way?

Its not an easy decision.
8:36 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I added a 720x90 add immediately under my header about 4 months ago and traffic and earnings have never been better

The top ad unit brings in about 40% of all earnings. I have only one other ad unit, a 300x250, also a above the fold but on the right separate from content.

Panda has been very good to me.
8:38 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I also have a good 10 pixel or so buffer between header, ad, and the content below.
8:48 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I average around 4% CTR


Sigh:-( Those were the days my friend we thought they'd never end...answers on a postcard to...me:-)
10:12 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@ken_b,
Ads shouldn't be placed under a title or section heading in a way that implies that the ads are not ads.

Sounds like if you label it properly "Sponsored Links" or "Advertisements" and make clear, it should be OK.
10:30 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Atomic, when I replaced the 460 ad with 728 on of the other sites upon adsense team's recommendation, my ecpm has never been better on that site. Its significantly higher than the increase they suggested I would see.

Its a delicate balance because you also want people to view more pages and spend more time on the site rather than clciking on an ad too soon.
11:04 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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OP, I understand now that you propose to insert the new block below the header but above the article/post title (the main "heading"). If your header's height is, say, 160px or more, you just might improve your overall revenue with the additional ad. (When I'm browsing I tend to overlook leaderboards that hug the top of the screen.)

I don't know what your site looks like, of course, but in general I don't think another block would look spammy, especially where you're proposing to place it. And I doubt you'd be penalized for two ad blocks on a page (would there be a third one as well?), especially if the new 728X90 pushes your 300X250 below the fold. As we've all observed, the sites of many, if not most, major (and credible) news organizations place leaderboards front and center. Opting for text-only might reduce the spamminess factor, if that's a concern. I've never bid on AdWords, but in my limited observation bids on 728X90 are commensurate with bids on 300X250, all else equal.

Perhaps you should use Google's A/B comparison tool. Give each version a goodly number of impressions, and you'll have your answer. In fact, you might considering toggling the two on a permanent basis, just so the readers don't turn ad blind. Hmm, maybe I'll try that.
11:40 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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you also want people to view more pages and spend more time on the site rather than clciking on an ad too soon.

I hear that, but oddly enough my visitors are now viewing more pages per visit and spending more time per visit on the site. I've also lowered my bounce rate by about 10%. Perhaps the ad is catching the visitors most likely to leave anyway.
10:51 pm on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I used to have a 4-5% CTR until Panda hit me on April 11!
 

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