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Integrating Advertising into Your Web Design



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 ... hundredth 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.

Where to position ads on your webpage

To discuss where to place ads on a webpage, we need to
divide a page into five sections as listed below.

1. Header
2. Footer
3. Left Margin
4. Right Margin
5. Center column

Note: There is a sixth area of the webpage which is the
popup window. There are many forms of popup windows;
pop-over, pop-under, delayed, and exit. The polite way to
use popup windows is the self-closing popup window. Because
of popup window blockers, popup windows are much less
effective today, and, from my own experience, when I tried
using popup windows, the page views on my website dropped
by 50 percent.

The most common position to place advertising banners is
in the header section of a webpage. Web users have
programmed themselves to ignore banners in this position.
The response rate of banners in the header section of
webpages has dropped to something like .0001 percent. The
Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has tried to overcome
this problem by defining giant (what I call "battleship
size") banners. I don't know of any studies that show this
works.

Using banners in the head section of your webpage is a
waste of processor time, but most webpages still use them.
Making a sale this way is a long shot. Banners in the footer
section of a webpage are even less responsive.

Actually Web users have programmed themselves to ignore all
advertising on the web. However, from my own experience,
you can get some response from ads in the left and right
margins of a webpage. Most websites are designed with the
menu in the left margin and possibly ads in the right
margin. This means if the user has a low resolution display,
depending upon the width of the webpage, the advertising
may be off the screen.

Place your menu in the right margin and use the left margin
for advertising. This places the user with a low resolution
display in the positon of having to scroll to view the menu.
Too bad. They should get a bigger display. Website revenue
comes first.

The most responsive position to put your ads is in the
center column of the webpage along with the content. As
visitors are reading the article on the webpage, they come
upon the ad. It's unavoidable.

If you imagine the center column of your webpage divided
into three parts; top, middle, and bottom, the most
responsive position for your ad will be right in the middle.
As the visitors are reading the article on the webpage,
they are forced to look at the ad as they continue to the
lower part of the article. This might be a little annoying
to the reader, but let's hope your content is worth that
slight annoyance.

I would recommend placing your ad at the bottom of the
center column. As visitors read the article on the webpage,
they end up looking at your ad. This is almost as
effective as placing the ad in the middle of the column,
and a lot less annoying to the reader.

As you can see, how you integrate advertising into your
webpages has a major impact on your ability to produce
revenue from your website. Poor ad integration will cause
visitors to click away. Proper integration can make your
website highly profitable. But, ad positon is not the
only determining factor, don't forget the ratio of ads to
content, ad management, and ad type relative to response
rate.

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