Integrating Advertising into Your Web Design
By Stephen Bucaro
If you are going to be placing ads on your website, you'll want to put some thought
into how you'll integrate them. Poor integration of ads into your website will cause
visitors to click away fast. Successful integration of ads into your site can be
highly profitable. Before I show you where to position ads, I want to mention a
few important points about ads.
1. Ratio of ads to content
How many ads should you place on your website? There is an optimum ratio of ads to
content. If your website has too high a proportion of advertising relative to content,
the traffic on your website will suffer and you will lose money. If your website has too
low a portion of advertising relative to content, the sales on your website will suffer
and you will lose money.
What is the optimum ratio of ads to content? I can't point to any studies, but I
feel the optimum ratio is somewhere around 20 to 25 percent ads relative to content.
Go much above that ratio and, despite more ads, the revenue from your site goes down.
But, there are ways to exceed that ratio and still make more money.
Ads as a service.
Advertisements can provide useful information, as well as content. In that case, the
ads become content. Here's an example. Rather than post ads that pay you the highest
commission, post ads that provide the best value to the visitors to your website.
These are ads where the value is so good you might respond to the ad yourself. This
type of ad is more of a service than an advertisement.
Another example is ads for gifts around the holidays. People expect and are not turned
off by an increase in ads around the holidays. Finding gifts for everyone on your list
is difficult work, and people appreciate gift ideas. Again, this type of ad is more
of a service than an advertisement.
You can safely exceed the normal ratio of ads to content if you hide the ads in the
content. An example of this is product "reviews". For example, computer magazines are
almost 100 percent advertising posing as product reviews.
2. Repetition of ads and ad management
I have seen websites that display the exact same banner on every page. If I didn't
respond to the banner on the first page, what makes them think I will repond to it
on the second, third ... hundreth page?
Displaying the same banner on every page of your website is annoying to your website's
visitors, and a money losing propostion for you. Keep your ads fresh. Ads are boring
enough without repeating the same ad over and over. Display a variety of ads, and use
an ad management system. An example of an ad management system is a banner rotator.
3. Ad type relative to response rate
I have heard claims that text ads receive the highest reponse. I'm sure these results
are not related to whether the ad is text or graphics, but more likely related to the
fact that text ads are usually placed in the more responsive areas of a webpage. All
thing being equal, a graphic ad will always get better response than a text ad.
A graphic ad will get higher response than a text ad, and an animated graphic ad
will get higher response than a static graphic ad. But animation can be taken to an
extreme. Some types of animation are annoying and not only does the ad get a low
response, but it also causes visitors to click away from your website.
Examples of annoying animated ads are banners that flash or jiggle or do something
else that distracts the visitor so they can't read the webpage content. Those visitors
that don't click away will scroll the webpage so this type of ad goes off screen while
they try to read the webpage.
A secret few advertising designers know is that the graphic that will get the most
attention is a picture of a human face. People are genetically predisposed to look at
a human face in their view area. Try it yourself while you're browsing the web. If a
webpage has a human face on it, that's the first thing you will look at.