A majority of online publishers and professional bloggers rely on text and banner advertising as their primary source of income. Think about it, if it were not for ad revenue, what incentive would publishers even have to bring us the content that they do? How would they manage to cover their expenses, let alone be profitable?
Increasingly, advertisers are decreasing their display ad budgets and spending it on other things such as social media and content marketing.
The State of Display Advertising
With brand name publications such as GigaOM and Dr. Dobbs shutting down operations, it’s plenty clear that even brand name publishers are struggling to keep their head above water – let alone small publishers and niche bloggers.
So, what exactly happened? What about all those stories about bloggers making six-figure incomes and buying vacation homes in the Bahamas? Did that bubble burst?
Well, in a way, yes.
Did you know that you are more likely to get accepted into Harvard and Stanford both, than click a banner ad? The truth is that over time, readers have adapted to ignore ads and display advertising CTR has been in a state of constant decline, as much as from an absurd 50% when display ads first started to measly 0.05% now. This is called banner blindness and it’s rampant.
But all hope isn’t lost just yet, there are multiple factors that affect ad performance and it’s possible to optimize ad units for higher revenue, if only you know what to fix.
Factors That Affect Ad Performance
Ad loading: Is your best performing ad unit, in terms of CTR, loading first? The reason behind why it works is simple: AdSense fills the top paying ads first. Which essentially means: Highest CTR on the highest paying ad unit = a lot of additional money.
Ad location: Always make sure to place ads strategically as optimizing this one factor can significantly increase CTR even when a site’s traffic stays constant. But performance in a given location may change over time, making this is a parameter that needs continuous testing and optimization.
Ad size: The size of the advertisements on a given web page has a very significant impact on how well those ads perform. For one thing, it’s generally agreed that wider ads have a tendency to perform better than taller ads do. Check this video from the AdSense Team.
Ad design: Selecting ad colors for the text ad units, which compliment your site, are important. The importance of selecting the right ad colors on your AdSense text ad units can’t be stressed enough. If you haven’t tried it yet, go ahead and do it now.
The Importance of A/B Testing
Now that you know the factors that affect ad performance, you could just make some one-time changes, sit back and wait for the extra money to roll in, right?
Well, not so fast. You still need to run tests. Multiple tests actually.
See, at the end of the day, ad best practices are just like signposts that guide you in the right direction, but you still have to walk yourself. You’ll need to figure out what works best for your website – by testing ad units over time individually for location, size, and design.
The reward of a well-run A/B test is in knowing with surety that your website isn’t leaking any revenue.
What AdPushup Can Do For You
One way to go about A/B testing is to do it manually.
Pick a few different ad locations for each unit also called variations, split your traffic between the different variations compare the CTR from each of these variations. Similarly, pick different sizes for each ad unit and different ad colors for your text ad units. If you happen to know some programming, you can even write a script to automate some aspects of the testing.
But what if you don’t know programming? Or what if you just find the entire process of manually testing ad units a little too tedious?
Enter AdPushup, a startup which helps web publishers fight banner blindness and optimize their online ad revenues using advanced, automated A/B testing without the need for any programming knowledge. There are already a lot of SaaS providers of A/B testing software in the market, but none of them have an offering that’s designed specifically to optimize ad units – making this a one-of-a-kind product. AdPushup also recently raised $632,000 in its angel round of funding.
Although we’re currently in private beta, the public beta launch is imminent. For one test account, our tool helped a publisher increase their CTR by 107% and RPM by 48% within a week of installing the script.
So if you’re an online publisher or a professional blogger who already uses display ads and is looking to squeeze out extra revenue without overhauling your design, editorial or basically touching anything else – it may be worth your while trying us out.