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The Internet as we know it would not exist without advertisements. Ads are necessary for generating revenue from free content and an Internet without ads would be an Internet smothered in subscriptions and paywalls. You don’t have to feel guilty for running ads on your website, but make sure you do it right.

Want to know the fastest way to kill your website? Implement ads that are annoying to readers. Indeed, aggressive ads will push readers to install an adblocker and we all know that adblockers kill websites Are Ad Blocking Browser Extensions Killing The Internet? Are Ad Blocking Browser Extensions Killing The Internet? One of the reasons for the Internet’s surge in popularity is the cost of most online content – or rather, the lack of cost. That’s not to say the content is free, however. Almost every... Read More .

If you’re going to monetize your site with ads, here are a few important tips that you must keep in mind.

Tip #1: The Reader’s Perspective

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Before you place your ads anywhere, you should ask yourself, “How will this impact my readers?” Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Better yet, think of your own Internet browsing experience. What kind of ad practices do you tolerate? Which ones do you hate?

This tip should apply to every decision you make regarding your website, but it’s especially important for ad placement. If the advertisement would annoy you if you saw it on another website, it will most likely annoy your own readers.

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Tip #2: Fit the Design

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On the one hand, you want your advertisements to stick out and entice visitors. On the other hand, going too far will frustrate, aggravate, and alienate those same visitors. No visitors = no ad revenue.

The rule of thumb is that your ads should blend in with your website in such a way that they garner interest but don’t stick out like a sore thumb. Proper placement of ads is critical (a topic that goes beyond the scope of this article) but don’t forget about colors either. In short, ads should seamlessly integrate with your website’s design.

If the ads feel like they “belong” on your site, readers will feel safer clicking on them. A complementary aesthetic makes it less likely for readers to have bad kneejerk reactions.

Tip #3: Image > Text > Video

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Your ads only have one second to capture your reader’s attention and convince them to click. One second. The Internet is a fast-paced medium. Your readers come and go in the blink of an eye. Once they’ve gotten what they need from your site, they’re gone.

Whenever possible, choose image ads over text ads. Images are fun, text is boring. Images are pleasant to the eye (but beware the warnings in Tip #4), text requires effort to read. It’s a no-brainer.

As for video ads, skip them unless you know exactly what you’re doing. Videos can be fun to watch but they’re typically between 30 seconds and 2 minutes long and most readers won’t bother watching for more than a few seconds. Plus, they require more bandwidth and can slow down your site (Tip #5).

Tip #4: No Popups, No Blinkers, No Sound

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The stigma attached to Internet ads can be traced all the way back to the 90s when popup ads flooded every inch of cyberspace. People don’t like to be disrupted, which means you ought to eliminate ads with disruptive behavior: popup windows, blinking images, and anything with an audio component.

There isn’t much to be said about popup ads except that they are the most annoying type of ad ever conceived. In the time it takes a user to click out of a popup ad, they could very well lose interest in your site altogether.

Blinking image ads are similar to flies that buzz around your ears and won’t leave you alone no matter how much you swat at them. How are readers going to focus on your website’s content when they’re actively trying to ignore those red-and-yellow flashing banners?

Audio is also a big no-no. There are few things more annoying than blinking banners and unexpected audio is one of them.

Tip #5: Speed Is Crucial

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The last thing to keep in mind with your ads is speed.

There are far too many sites out there that cram ads into every pixel of available space. Not only does it end up being ugly (violating Tip #2), but it negatively impacts site performance.

Readers are impatient. For every extra second that it takes your page to load, you’re losing visitors. If your site is so loaded with ads that scrolling becomes choppy, you’re losing visitors. If your ad networks aren’t optimized, they can cause your site to load slower and you’ll lose visitors.

Not sure if your website is slow? Try these website speed test tools 10 Free Online Tools to Test Your Website Loading Speeds & Create Faster Webpages 10 Free Online Tools to Test Your Website Loading Speeds & Create Faster Webpages Creating faster webpages is one of the commandments of great web design. The first step you can take to optimize your website is to put it through a speed test. These ten tools are few... Read More to see where you stand.

Conclusion

Keep it simple. Walk the fine line that exists between catching the reader’s attention and being overly aggressive with your ads. It’s easier said than done, of course, but these tips will help improve reader retention and ultimately lead to higher ad revenue.

Do you run your own site? If so, what sort of ad techniques have you employed to increase reader engagement and not scare them away? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Image Credits: Frustrated Computer User Via Shutterstock, Your Ad Here Via Shutterstock, Popup Ads, Hourglass Laptop Via Shutterstock

  1. Henk van Setten
    March 31, 2014 at 11:45 am

    This entire post is based on assumptions that are basically, fundamentally and even morally wrong. The first few lines should be rewritten as follows:

    "The Internet as we know it would be much better off without advertisements. Ads are not necessary for generating free or paid content, and an Internet fully funded from ads would be an Internet smothered in advertorials, sneaky sponsorials, commercial "relevant" topics, user-tracking techniques, and more sleazy behind-our-back techniques . You should rightly feel guilty for running ads on your website: instead of selling out yourself to the Darth Vader of commercial Internet-undermining, you ought to make a principled choice for honesty." There.

    In the near future, we will have three mainstream types of internet:
    (1) the honest Fully Free Internet driven by enthusiastic volunteers in their spare time,
    (2) the honest Pay-For-Top-Quality-Content Internet, driven by self-conscious professional people whose product is deemed worth paying for; and
    (3) the Sleazy Internet that is corrupted by ads and behind-your-back tracking and commercial priorities, where the public can never be sure what exactly it is what they get, and where content is no longer a goal but just a means, a disguised transport vehicle to drive the commercial messages home.

    I always feel a little sad when I see some formerly great site evading a honest choice for (1) or (2), and instead gradually sliding down into the corrupted and ever more corrupting, morally untenable realm of (3).

    Let me add that I run two blogs myself, one infrequently and one daily updated. I am proud to tell you (and I do tell so on my blog's About pages) that my Internet content is honest, uncorrupted content that does not depend from advertisers, sponsors, trackers or other Dark Forces in any way. I've chosen for option (1), meaning that I do not expect to make one single penny from my blogging activities. If necessary I will shift to option (2) in the future, selling my own content (not pushing ads) for the price it deserves -- either on my own blog, or as a freelance writer for other decent blogs.

    In the long run, the ads-driven kind of Internet will both smother itself, and lose all credibility. For the rise of Big Data also means that eventually, all hidden dishonest motives and techniques will inevitably come to light.

  2. Tom W
    March 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    All of these are fantastic tips. I would add one more onto the end of those: Communication.
    Communicate with your users about exactly what your advert policy is, but also allow your users to communicate with you about adverts which they find annoying, or the inevitable adverts which break your policies but slip through the filters anyway. This will give the users confidence in your site, and also reassure them that you're not just using them as a cash cow.

    • Joel L
      April 7, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      Yes, very good point! Open communication is always important, especially with regard to potential turn-offs like advertisements. Thanks for bringing it up.

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