free html hit counter Tips On Ads That Work - John Battelle's Search Blog

Tips On Ads That Work

By - June 25, 2006

E-Media Tidbits points to a Neilsen/Norman eye tracking study that reveals:

…people do not look at static ads with graphic treatment.

Users seem to “zone out” (with their peripheral vision) ads and other site elements that have clearly distinguishable ad features such as graphics and colors that make the ads look different from the rest of the site, or animated ads….When users DO look at ads with graphics, those ads usually have:

-Heavy use of large, clear text

-A color scheme that matches the site’s style

-Attention-grabbing proprieties such as black text on a white background, words such as “free” and interactive (UI)

It’s interesting that the ads which are “native” to a site – in other words, that are driven by text, as much of web still is, and that follow a site’s design approach, do best. It reminds me of ads in Wired in the middle years – advertisers started to adapt Wired’s unique visual grammar, and the whole publication felt like one ongoing conversation. I’ve argued for the past few years that advertising needs to not interrupt, but rather be part of a site’s dialog. This research seems to confirm that concept.

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4 thoughts on “Tips On Ads That Work

  1. Eric Giguere says:

    This is something AdSense publishers have long since figured out… and it’s why Google recently switched to a borderless default. Blending the ads instead of making them stand out from the rest of the content is a proven way to increase clickthrough rates. It’s the same with the AdSense “horizontal link unit” format, which is essentially a single line of links that when clicked bring you to pages with nothing but ads. They work especially well when placed at the top of a page near navigational aids.

    Of course, how many of the ad clickers realize they’re clicking on an ad in the first place?

  2. Mike Hogan says:

    I’ve suggested for some time that online ads actually train consumers not to click on them. As consumers become savvier they begin to read webpages with blinders on, they only focus on the content in the center and ignore the advertising gutters around the content.

    Contextual advertising helps to mitigate some of this effect, especially when they are text only, because they disguise themselves, to some degree as content.

    While consumers are increasingly trained to ignore the ads that are pushed on them, there is one form of advertising that is pull-based, and that is coupons. People actively look for coupons. (Apologies for plugging my company, but I spend a lot of time thinking/researching this topic) My company, ZiXXo, provides an API so that these coupons can be embedded into the content in the center, thus blurring the line between content and advertising.

    Let me give you an example: You go to an online yellow pages site and search for an auto mechanic in your area. The search results include a link to the company’s website, directions, and coupons. ZiXXo serves the coupon information, through an API, and it is embedded right into the content, adding value to the user experience.

    Advertising started as push. Through text ads and context, Overture and Google have implemented a “pseudo-pull” model, but these ads are sill relegated to the ad gutter. I believe that we’ll see coupons integrated into content and a next wave of pure pull advertising. Then consumers will have no idea that they are clicking on an ad, but they won’t care.

  3. I saw some stats recently showing Pointroll ads don’t do well – but that’s just one client. I think each client has to test out the effectiveness of their ads and decide, on a case by case basis what works.

  4. matt says:

    I’m wondering when I blog and I leave the following imprint– if it’s an ad. I always share according to what’s written on other people’s blog. I don’t think I’ve sold one book by doing this.