Recently I read an interesting research report on Marketing Charts about the effectiveness of various online ad sizes. This report revealed that smaller ads are much more effective in click-through-rates (CTR) than large banners. I was in disbelief when I read this report because we were taught not so long ago that larger ad formats actually improve CTRs – at least that’s what Google (and AdSense gurus) taught us when it sold the AdSense best practices and heat map to us.
On further reading on the web, I figured out that there’s a need to distinguish between ad sizes based on the program. For example, if an image ad is effective on a particular size and aspect ratio, it does not mean that an AdSense text block of the same size is effective.
More effective ad sizes
According to this particular report by Dynamic Logic, the image ad sizes of 234×60 (half banner) and 180×150 (small rectangle) are more effective than leaderboards and large rectangles. The reason being the fact that larger ad sizes causing more ad blindness. We all know how easily the web users ignored traditional web banners (mainly 468×60) and now the leaderboard is joining this ignored list as well.
Text ads v/s image ads
However, when it comes to PPC text ads (e.g. Google AdSense), by looking at what people say and my own AdSense channel reports, I tend to believe that large rectangles and skyscrapers actually have better CTRs. So, you need to clearly distinguish text and image ads when it comes to filling your available screen real estate effectively.
Why people went for bigger ads, in the first place?
As a matter of fact, the monitor resolutions, sizes and display hardware capabilities have been growing drastically in the past several years. This essentially led to the need for having bigger ads (468×60 to 728×90 for example) and even whole page ads. However, in the other direction, mobile technologies and minis started growing as well which demanded for various types of small ad sizes. On top of this, with aspect ratios changing, nobody was really in a mood to utilize the entire available screen for website design. This phenomenon is what is probably resulting in the ineffectiveness of these bigger ads now.
However, the OPA (Online Publisher’s Association) seem to be going ahead with their plans to introduce even bigger ad sizes. As the report reads, the big publishers such as Wall Street Journal, New York Times & ESPN have agreed to publish the following three extra large ad sizes:
- The fixed panel, a 336-by-860-pixel banner. Wider than standard skyscrapers, it follows users as they scroll down the page
- The XXL, a 468-by-648-pixel box with an expandable video option
- The pushdown, a 970-by-418-pixel unit that takes up over half of a page before rolling up
The above decision would essentially mean that we can start seeing AdSense ads that your current blog design cannot accommodate and I wonder if it is a good trend at all! I mean, are we talking about more ads and less content space?
Over to you
In the past, we experimented, struggled, Googled for information and arrived at certain ad sizes (UAP – Universal Ad Package sizes) that we thought are the best to improve our AdSense and private ad sales income. However, there will be a few things that could change in the near future. My questions to you are:
(1) Are blog themes, unlike generic websites, designed to accommodate the best possible ad formats?
(2) Which AdSense block size is the most effective on your blog for text ads?
(3) Which image banner has the maximum CTR on your blog?
(4) Do you think that the three XXL sizes proposed by OPA will pick momentum?