Ad Size and Advertising Effectiveness

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 thatโ€™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 thereโ€™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 Publisherโ€™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 (UAPUniversal 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?

Happy Blogging!


  1. for me…there is nothing more effective than a 468 x 80 ad banner…image ad works best and if it is a animated ad, you hit the bull’s eye

  2. A lot of study has been done on this subject , i can only say ‘ bigger is better’

    -Shanker Bakshi

  3. Rather than using BIGGER ads it would be better to use better ad designs….. better placements…. and valuable ads….

  4. I find that people tend to ignore the big ads, almost like paging past them in a magazine, so this post makes a lot of sense to me. I have to differ from you on this one, Shanker ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Tell me one thing which has not changed on the web over a period of time. Ads are not different either. They have been evolving and will continue to evolve further. The key is to experiment and see what suits you better. For someone who depends on affiliate sales, image ads work better, and for someone who depends on PPC and contextual ads, text links works better. Now to answer your question-

    1) may be not, but they are not meant to emulate general websites.
    2) a big rectangle
    3) none ๐Ÿ™‚ to choose one, 300×250 is better than others
    4) Yeah! may be!

  6. I think the nice thing about blogging platforms is that they’re so customizable. If someone wants to incorporate one of these new sizes, all they have to do is hire someone on elance to design and install a new template for them.

    Personally, I look the ads that look like text, and like to blend them into the site layout so they don’t look like ads.

    That’s created the best results for me.



  7. Ajith,

    Good points there. Goes on to show that we should not take anything for granted and must try out different variations and keep the one that performs the best.

  8. Adsense size and location is always tricky subject.

    I played around with both size and location and for now settled down to following that worked best for my blog:

    1. Leaderboard next to the logo.
    2. Large rectangle inside the content (not at the top!)
    3. Large rectangle at the bottom of the post
    4. Horizontal link unit right below the menu bar.

    Note: I also change these depending on what actions I want users to take when they hit the blog. On few months, ads are focus. There are months, when I put subscription as focus. There are months, where the eBook is a focus. So, I change the ad locations accordingly.

  9. @Tushar, I thought 468×60 – the longest living banner size – is already outdated and creates more ad blindness than anything else.

    @Shanker, the question is how big can it get… there has to be a saturation point ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Samrat, absolutely…especially when it comes to PPC and AdSense blocks.

    @Jacques, you are right. When it too intrusive the response from the web user is to ‘just ignore’

    @Raju, thanks for your inputs. Yes, ads like anything else, need some revolutionary changes and evolve.

    And everyone seems to be going with the large rectangle for text ads ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Jonathan, thanks for those inputs. Even, I prefer nicely blended text ads (as a publisher as well as a reader)

    @SK, yep… nothing can be taken for granted. If a few of our income generators suddenly change, how fast can we adapt is the question!

    @Ramesh, yes, when it comes to AdSense, it is a perennial topic of discussion. No wonder why Joel Comm etc are making millions.

    As for the AdSense formats, I did not have much luck with the link ads below the menu and hence I removed them. But I totally endorse the large rectangle. Yet to try leaderboard on the blog.

    Thank you all for your wonderful inputs!

  10. Text ads are much more effective than banner ads. It generate more clicks with hight conversion ratio.

  11. Nice post. Looks like you have done good research.

    I don’t know much about other ads performance. But for google Text and Rectangular ads do much better.

    What do you think?

  12. I find it intriguing that most of the responses pretty much slammed what the report had to say without a second thought.

    In my case, on my blog at the end of each post, I’ve always added either a 468×68 ad or a product of some sort. I’ve had very few people ever click on the 468×68 ad, so maybe changing it up some to the 24×60 will help. Can’t hurt.

    • Mitch, probably the CPA ads that you display on the footer may be still effective with the 468×60 size if they are not looking like a single rectangle with boundaries defined. I also find your RSS footer ads interesting.

  13. Seriously am a bit blind to 468 ads myself. I think it depends on the type of ads when it comes to performance. For text ppc i think the 336 block still rules. As for the same size if it is an image it does not covert so well. A skycrapper 160 if image works better.

  14. Ajith,

    According to this article from google adsense blog, medium rectangle may lead to higher earnings over time.

    I’ve been using only large rectangle on my blog. Probably I should try the medium and see whether it works out better.

    While I was reading that google article, I suddenly remembered you wrote an article on this subject. So, I search for this and came here to mention about this google article, which may be helpful to others who have not seen it.

    PS: This shows that I’ve even memorized all your articles. ๐Ÿ™‚ You are doing a fantastic job in educating us on various online money making stuff.

  15. Is my adsproper my Ctr is too low as 0.72 .
    Suggest some idea

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