I’ve been using the WordPress plugin Adsense Logger for about 4 weeks, and at the same time I’ve also been using a script called phpmyads to run the network advertising and also track things like some of the text links and there are a couple of conclusions I’d like to share on advertising behaviour on blogs that may be useful. I’d note that the readership of all the Weblog Empire sites, and the Blog Herald in particular tends to be high in repeat visitors and links from other blogs as opposed to search engine traffic only, hence the conclusions may not hold true if you’ve got the majority of your traffic coming in from search engines.
1. New ads work
You will always get a higher CTR on new ads, both text and graphical (but not Adsense). Think of it like a honeymoon for ads. In the case of the Blog Herald new ads are good for probably 2 to 3 days in terms of decent CTR, then they drop off to lower levels. Ive tracked the ads from BlogAds for a period as well (sorry Opera users, my bad). My advice if you’re advertising using BlogAds over a period of time: rotate your ad graphics maybe once a week.
2. Regular readers tend to be ad blind
Darrens written about this previously over at Problogger but I’ve actually seen in the figures for the first time. Sure, regular readers will click on ad spots but the CTR is much lower than for new readers, particularly on Adsense ads. Ive had lot of different traffic in the last four weeks on a variety of different subjects and its the posts bringing in completely new traffic that have the high CTR’s, and I’m talking at times four to five times higher rates on the same ad spot as per a post that would attract a regular reader
3. Old posts = revenue
It really, really surprised me how many days I’d look at the stats and see clickthrus from Adsense ads on pages here at the Blog Herald that are so old I don’t even remember writing them! And sometimes the CTR is higher on these pages as well. Perhaps the Adsense ad was more relevant that the 2 year old content? who knows!
4. Niche topics deliver better ad results
I’m a believer in mixing and matching, and you’ll always see a variety of topics and posts here at the Blog Herald, some you’ll be interested in, some you wont, but that’s the way it should be because its a broad horizon. Statistically however its niche topics that do best in terms of CTR, perhaps in part because they bring in new traffic. Without giving away which posts did best (I’m mindful of the Adsense TOS after all, and don’t want to suggest any particular figures) topics that relate to specific occupations, geographic areas or types of people seem to work better than general topics relevant to your broader readership collectively, but again I could suggest that its because the links into the post come from different readership bases as well.
5. Network bars don’t work
The bar across the top of the Weblog Empire blogs is as useful as you know what on a bull. I can disclose the CTR on this one because its nothing to do with Adsense: in the last week 0.12% CTR. Terrible figures. I’m working on a new project (that shall not be named) at the moment and I’ve dispensed with this spot altogether. It’s handy for network branding but a waste of space in my experience for advertising. I’d note that Jason Calacanis at Weblogs Inc uses these and Nick Denton at Gawker doesn’t. My call is Nick is right. I may yet play with the top bar here though as I’ve become attached to it, but if it doesn’t start improving its going to disappear.
6. Top banners are marginally better
I’ve been playing with the top banner space as well. Its marginally better that the top line network bar, but again, rotation is important. If you’re going to do a banner see if you can rotate it with a number of ads, alternatively if you’ve signed the one advertiser see if they’ve got a variety of ads for you to rotate, your CTR rates will be better if you do.
7. Text Links work
Some people might think that text links are all about Google juice, and although they might be partially right, they’d also be partially wrong, because I was amazed to see some text links in the nav bars doing reasonable CTR rates. Sure, not amazingly high, but when people attack O’Reilly and others on the basis of relevance I’d argue that if one person clicks on it, it must be relevant to them. In the case on my tracking, it was a lot more than one person.