Towards the beginning of the year I made an offer to anyone that is interested that they could advertise on this site for a $1200 flat rate that would cover the entire year. A couple of people jumped on board and I thought it would be nice to talk a bit about the experience.
When I first started taking sponsors on this site I gave them two ad sizes: 234×60 and 468×60. 234×60 isn’t very common, but its the one we use on 9rules so I was very comfortable with it and like the creative freedom it gives advertisers and site owners without debasing the actual site. Initially clickthrough (CTR) hovered around 3%-5% and after a couple of weeks dipped to 1%-2%, which isn’t surprising if the readers are seeing the same sites.
A couple of months later I switched the site design and changed the sponsors to a single textad at the top and was a bit surprised at the results. Note, the advertisers didn’t change at all just the formatting of the ads and yet CTR rose back to 5%-6% and this stayed consistent for about 2 months without any changes to the advertisers. Now we are back down to 1%-3% since the ads themselves haven’t changed, which I don’t find very surprising at all.
So what happened here is essentially the same thing that happens on 9rules in that ad creatives can get very stale with your audience. It isn’t about making your ads standout necessarily, but changing them over time can work wonders with your CTR. For the 2007 run of Wisdump I am planning on trying to get each of the site’s sponsors to rotate creatives on a monthly basis as a site owner can only do so much to encourage ad clickthroughs without taking away from the site itself.
I know over the past two years there has been talk of textads performing better than their graphical counterparts, but with the experience of both Wisdump and 9rules I can honestly say that graphical works just as well as text as long as it fits in with the site. Gawdy ads that intentionally try to make your readers ignore them are a burden not only to your bottom line, but also to the results that advertisers might be looking for.
One of the most aggressive companies this year with regards to advertising on a number of sites is Text Link Ads. Now I’m sure you have seen their affiliate buttons on a number of websites, but that’s not the impressive part. If you have watched their ads on 9rules, TechCrunch or The Deck you may or may not have noticed that their ads change on a fairly regular basis. Now “regular” in the sense of the ad industry could mean every one to two months, but that is much better than a lot of others that I have come across this year. I have yet to see a decrease in the amount of money they are putting in advertising so I would guess that it has paid off well for them and it’s not hard to see why.
When it comes to clickthroughs there are a couple of factors that have to come into play for both site owners and advertisers.
- The Ad Creative. Is it attractive? Does the copy pull people in? Ads are easy to create, but great ads take time to think over just like great sites. You want to advertise because you want to spread the word about your product then you should definitely take the time to perfect your ad creatives. Make multiple ones and test them out to see which ones get the best response and when that is done create some more because those new ones just became old after the reader has seen them for the fifth time.
- The Site Design. How well does the ad fit in with the site’s design? When planning sites now we no longer have to plan just for our audience, but also the needs of our sponsors. Readers always come first, but you don’t want a design that doesn’t leave room for ads to work well because then you are just going to piss off both readers and advertisers.
Next entry I will go over the sponsor plan for Wisdump in 2007 and what new approaches I plan to take.