July 03, 2012

Alternatives to Banner Ads for WordPress

The evidence has been in for quite some time now: banner ads are not an effective use of the webspace on your page. The expected CTR (Click-Through Rate) for banner ads is below 0.2 percent. That means for every 1000 people that view your page, less than 2 of them are going to click on a banner ad. There is some evidence that people don’t even see banner ads anymore – so-called banner blindness. Through years of internet use, users’ brains have been trained to ignore irrelevant content, and because banner ads are often not salient information for visitors, heat map studies have shown that they don’t even look at them. On top of that, there are ad-blocking plugins available for most browsers that stop ads ever being loaded in the first place. Since most publishers using WordPress depend on advertising revenue for income, we’re going to have a look at 3 alternative methods for placing ads into content.

Image Overlays

By now you should know that your blog articles should always be accompanied by images. Unlike with banner ads, users will engage with appropriate images. Image overlays ads take a form similar to the “bottom third” of a TV screen, using part of the image to display static or animated ads. There are a couple of services that offer overlay adverts to publishers. GumGum is one of the most popular, and it has a plugin for WordPress.

Luminate’s In-Image Apps

Content-relevant images are a great way to spice up a page, and if you are blogging a specific niche, chances are that relevant images are going to contain products of interest to some target market. Luminate (which used to be known as Pixazza) offers a service whereby items within images can be tagged with adverts, so that when users click on them, ads for those products open within the image. Luminate’s apps can also add social media sharing widgets and annotations within images, which is a great way to increase engagement and sharing. This video demonstrates the process of adding Luminate to a WordPress site.

In-Text Ads

One thing that most blogs have plenty of is textual content, and you can be pretty sure visitors are going to engage with it. Text link ad services, from companies like Kontera, syntactically analyze the content of a blog post and convert certain keyword clusters into (mostly) relevant ads. They look like double-underlined links, and when a user mouses over them, they pop up a small ad. These can be a great way to make money, but before using them, keep a couple of things in mind. Firstly, Google is not fond of text-link ads, and may penalize for them. Secondly, some users find them very annoying. Kontera has a plugin for WordPress.

If you’re monetizing your blogs with other methods, let us know how in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter!


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