Tip: Determine Best Ad Format Based on Source of Traffic

Getting to know the best ad format can dramatically improve the overall performance of the Ad program for your site. Let it be Google AdSense, Yahoo YPN or any other Ad program, the same trick applies to all. The performance of your ad units, in terms of CTR, directly depends on the source of the traffic from which visitors visit your site for various reasons. The primary sources from which you receive visitors on your site are:

  • Search Engines – Also known as natural search traffic
  • Paid Traffic – Through various campaigns such as AdWords campaign
  • Referral, Bookmarks & Direct Traffic – Mostly through social bookmarks, link on other sites and direct type-in traffic
  • Stumbleupon and Digg – Non-targeted incoming traffic (not limited to just these two sites)

How does it matter where the visitors come from?

It does! There is a lot of difference between a visitor from search engine than someone getting referred to your site by Stumbleupon. When a visitor finds your website in search engine’s results page, it’s mostly because your site came up as a result of the search performed by the visitor using some keywords for which your site had some sort of relevance. But when your site shows up as a result of someone Stumbling, your site might have little or no relevancy for what user might be interested in.

To be more specific, when you receive traffic from search engines, it’s because of relevancy of your content and what user was looking for. It greatly increases the chances of the user staying at your site and reading through the content. In case of Stumbleupon, user may spend as less as 5-10 seconds quickly scanning through what your site/page is about and may Stumble again to see the next site. Similarly, when your site/page is on Digg, you will see a surge in traffic to your site which again will either have user spend some time on your site or quickly scan through and finally exit.

So, how does it affect my Click Through Ratio (CTR)?

Simple! A user who is reading through the content is more likely to click on your ad unit than someone who is paying very short visit from Digg, Stumbleupon or some other source. People spend a great deal of time reading through your articles when they find it through search engines and likely to click on your ad units placed along or in your content.

What ad formats should I use?

Now, that’s the right question! Depending on the type of traffic, we will accordingly select the ad format or ad unit format.

» Search Engines – Since people visit your site because your site shown up in search engine results, placing text based unit is more likely to perform better. Text ad units show more than one ad and hence present more options or ads for a user to click from. An image only ad unit may not produce relevant ads, hence text only ad units are recommended for your pages if the traffic is mostly from search engines. Suggested ad unit formats are 336×280, 300×250 and 160×600. You may place these ad units at the top of your content (see top of this page) or bottom of the page, but do blend the ads well.

» Paid Traffic – If you are running some sort of campaign to generate traffic to your site, placing an image unit is likely to perform better than text ad unit. This is because some visitors may or may not stay for longer on your site and to get their attention on ads, an image ad unit would be a better choice. Placing an image unit more closely to the point of their entry, such as top of the the content, below the header is highly recommended.

» Referral, Bookmarks & Direct Traffic – Strategy similar to that for Search Engines is recommended.

» Stumbleupon and Digg and others – An image unit is likely to out perform text ad units as the traffic brought in by such sources will often bring visitors who are less likely to read through your content. Getting their attention using an image ad unit is much easier than text ad units.

The suggestions and recommendations made in this articles are based on my experience with different ad placements on my blog. The results may vary on your site depending on your selection of ad formats and ad placement in your site.

You have some suggestions and tips for our readers? Please don’t forget to post your comments here!

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