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5 Ways to Make an Empty Ad Slot on Your Blog Work For You

Posted By Darren Rowse 16th of February 2009 Advertising 0 Comments

Yesterday I published a guest post here on ProBlogger that gave 7 Reasons to not have Empty ad Spots on your Blog. Today I want to build on this post and give you 5 alternatives to simply removing an empty ad slot from your blog.

Removing the ad is one valid option (especially if you already have a lot of ads) but it isn’t the only option. There are other ways of using the slot to either to earn an income or do something else to build your blog.

When I have an empty ad spot on one of my blogs I generally do one of these five things:

1. Put up an ‘advertise here’ Ad

As Ben says I would only want to have one of these showing per page. Too many of them looks a little desperate. However having one of them shows you’ve got an empty spot and calls potential advertisers to action. I link this ad to an ‘advertise with us’ page that outlines how people can purchase advertising on the blog.

2. Run an Affiliate ad

Just because you don’t have a paid advertisement doesn’t mean you can’t monetize the position. I recently had a spare ad spot on my Twitip Twitter Tips blog (the sidebar one which is now sold) and instead of an ‘advertise here’ ad I slotted in a large ad for a resource that I’d previously recommended on the blog called the ‘Twitter Survival Guide‘.

I was a little dubious about whether it would convert as I usually find affiliate programs work best within a post (as I’ve written in this post on affiliate programs) – but at the end of the month realized that the affiliate program had earned me about 80% of what selling the ad to an advertiser would have – it was a great way to earn something from the position while I negotiated the next advertising deal.

3. Run an Ad Network Ad

Another way to make at least some money from an empty ad spot is to consider placing an ad from another ad network. I generally start with AdSense or Chitika – depending upon the blog and then will begin to experiment with other ad networks to see what converts.

While these ad network ads might not earn you as much as a private ad sale (although they might) they can actually be quite worthwhile using because they’ll give you information on how well an ad spot works and what it earns. This information can actually be helpful in selling future ads in that spot.

Picture 8.png4. Run an Internal Ad

Another option that I use quite a bit is tocreate my own ad for a section of my blog that I want to drive traffic to. For example – currently here at ProBlogger in my sidebar I have an empty ad spot halfway down the page. If you scroll down there you’ll see that at the moment I’m putting an internal ad into the slot for the ProBlogger Job Boards. In effect I’m advertising my own site (or a section of it) to my own readers. Other internal ads that you might run would include:

  • Ads for your blogs newsletter
  • Ads for your RSS feed
  • Ads for a category
  • Ads for a ‘sneeze page
  • Ads for a forum area
  • Ads for one of your best posts
  • Ads for a competition you’re running
  • Ads for your business or a service that you offer
  • Ads for a series of posts that you’ve run
  • Ads for an e-product or resource that you’ve developed
  • Ads for your Twitter or account or some other social media connecting point

Essentially any important part of your blog is a good place to drive readers to – particularly if it is something that will drive revenue or increase reader stickiness /loyalty.

5. Swap Ads with another Blogger

I don’t do this one these days but another option is to do a deal with another blogger and arrange for them to show an ad for your blog in their empty ad spot and for you to show an ad to their blog in your empty slot. This way you’re promoting another blogger in your niche and hopefully expanding your readership by the traffic that they send you. This would work best when you do it with a relevant blog to your audience.

Another variation that is a combination of this and option #4 above is to do it with another of your own blogs (if you have more than one). Many blog networks do this – they run ads for other blogs in their stable of blogs in the hope of cross promoting and driving traffic from one blog to another.

What do You Do with Empty Ad Slots?

I’m certain that these are not the only 5 things to do with empty ad slots and am keen to hear what you do with them?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. These are all great ways to use empty advert space!

    On my blog at the moment I’m using a different technique, rather than displaying any form of advertising, I’m using the potential adspace to display photographs.

    The blog isn’t popular enough to make a worthwhile amount of income just yet so I see it as a great way to “hide” the space and also make the blog more appealing to first time visitors.

  2. Hello Darren Rowse,

    Hope you are well, I recently started a blog called http://burnyourfuel.com. The blog is doing good as it launched in the month of September last year. I am somewhat keen about my earning from my site too. I want to increase my adsense revenue, if you have any suggestion to my blog that would help me grow my site and to maintain the site well.



  3. Excellent thoughts. I really enjoyed your comments regarding the swapping of ad spots with another blogger. A very simple way to promote your site with very minimal work. Being free is also a large plus. :-)

  4. Wow… You know I’ve just been put up 6 125 x 125 ads on my site about iWork Templates from an affiliate network, and found limited success from that. I want to increase the numbers of ads on my site and these are some great tips on how to not only look better but do more while looking better. Thanks!

  5. I’ve converted my empty slots to using Google Adsense. It’s nice to not have a blank spot there, and I’ve left one slot open for the “place your ad here” ad. And like you say, it’s nice to have ads there just to see how they are performing.

  6. Yeah now this one is full circle … when I read yesterday’s post It was half one … but today this one is now full circle.

    There are few ones which I did not used like –

    4. Run an Internal Ad
    5. Swap Ads with another Blogger

    And I think these were really useful.

  7. Problogger – you are my hero :0)
    I am running a “newbie” workshop series for a local blogging club and your site is on the top of my recommended blogs to read and follow list. Oh – and my sister and her 9 yr old fledgling photographer daughter are gobbling up your digital photography site!

  8. nice post Darren

  9. Nice Article. I’m also like to swap ads. And I’m currently using “Entrecard” too. These days I’m Testing a new template to my blog. After it’s ready I’ll have plenty of space.

    If we are going to swap ads what are the things we should consider when selecting a partner?
    Shouldn’t we consider page rank, daily visits of the other site?

  10. Thank you Darren, I normally run AdSense. What is your take on rotating banners within the same spot? Am currently rotating two banners in each spot.

  11. i like the internal ad!!! thats cool man

  12. I’ve just been putting a couple of AdSense ads up but I like the idea of swapping with other bloggers. I’ll start looking for other similar sized travel blogs that might be a good partner.

    Thanks for the ideas Darren!

  13. Great tips. Thanks.

  14. I appreciate the follow up after telling us what not to do, you tell us how to avoid it.

    Would you recommend trying these different approaches (internal vs affiliate, etc.) to test and see which do the best? Or is selling ads directly to advertisers the most lucrative approach and the rest of these are fillers?

  15. Good tips. For me it always worked better if i had affiliate or internal ads instead of “advertise here” signs.

  16. When I take a look at the ad spots of bloggers who pretend to sell their ad spots to individual merchants, the only ads I see are from advertising networks. Doubleclick/Google Affiliats etc.

    I personally doubt the effectiveness of offering/selling ad spots directly to a merchant because of the following reasons:

    1. Why should a merchant buy ad space while he can get there via an advertising network and then just has to pay for result?
    2. How big is the chance that a potential advertiser stumbles to your block, sees the spot and thinks: ‘Great, I want to advertise here ans spent money without any guarantee for result.’ ?

    As I said, I read this direct-ad-spot-stelling-statement on many blogs and all I see when I move over the ads are affiliate links.

  17. The affiliates ads are the best for me, you know some affiliates use adwards and in their blogs they use adsense
    it do not make any sense at all.
    put your own ads instead of ad sense, your affiliate small banners.
    swapping links with other bloggers is also a great one

  18. It’s an excellent article. I actually made the first mistake you mentioned (having 3/4 advertise here links), and perhaps it’s the reason why i wasn’t able to yield as much impression from the visitors of my blog.

  19. Yep, I’ve done some of those things too – they work great! I’ve actually had a better conversion rate from sidebar affiliate links than when I punt them in a post. Perhaps that’s a sign I need to work on sounding less ‘salesman-ey’ in my punt posts!

  20. I definitely think the best thing you can do is run an affiliate ad instead. It will still look like someone is advertising on your blog. That is one of the ways that I fill empty space on my many blogs.

  21. I really like having my affiliate links in my ad space. It give more visual when I mention them in my post.

    I have also used the space to advertise a book I recommend.

    I like the idea of linking back to my self.

  22. It is a good idea to advertise other areas of your blog I have found. This creates more interest in your blog and keeps people coming back for more. It also helps people find more great information within your blog.


  23. Very good tips. Having an empty spot just looks bad. So dress it up and make it work. And even if you put an Advertise Here ad, that’s something that doesn’t make a blog look desperate.

  24. I like the idea of exchanging ads with another blogger. Thanks for the idea!

  25. Hello, anyone can recommend any good WordPress plugin to manage 125×125 slots ?

  26. Love the contrasting view of the previous post, I have to say my only issue with #1 is if it’s done in the style you have it. I’m not a fan of the look of a 125×125 spot being used for an “Advertise on…” location. A custom ad under the 125×125 blocks though as you have it would be the way to go. Aesthetically speaking that is.

    On point #2 I believe that affiliate ads “can” work, however only if it is directly in line with the content of your blog and for a product or service that your readers would actually have a use of.

    #3 and #4 are my personal favorites for the way to go.

  27. This is a good follow up post for the guest post, Darren. This is the major problem of most bloggers who think that blogging is about making money only. It needs image, reputation, and credibility.

    I think putting Google Adsense can also be an alternative, or the social social sites that he is a member.

    Besides, selling an ad space I suppose is only for high profile bloggers who has created a good credibility. Advertisers are looking for credible bloggers before they get one.

  28. Ok, that’s one area I’ve got to work on next. My thought was to simply delete it, but this gives me a better use for the spots.

    Thanks lots

  29. I never thought of internal ads. Thanks for this post. ;)

  30. Hi Darren… excellent post and it’s come at a great time just as I’m setting up my blog on marketing and branding. The WP template that I’ve used has come with six 125×125 ad banners, but I’ve deactivated them for the time being.

    I run a freelance marketing consulting business and until I get advertisers I’m going to be using 4 spots for internal promotion. One banner will point to my design portfolio so prospective clients can see some of the work that we’ve done in the past. The second banner will point to my Elance profile so that customers can engage me via Elance. The third ad will point to a case study post on my most recent branding assignment. And the fourth ad banner of course will be an “Advertise here” banner.

    As you can see, I’m focusing purely on self promotion at this point of time.

  31. Hi Darren,

    I may be in the minority, but my opinion is, that if you have to think too hard about what to put in an advertising space, maybe advertising doesn’t belong there. Especially for new or low traffic blogs, I like the idea of internal advertising. Build the traffic first, and the demand for advertising will be there … no need to worry about empty 125×125 slots.


  32. Darren,

    Plenty of useful tips- thanks. :) Your fifth point, believe it or not I never thought of that. How about that? Sometimes we’re too distracted and leave out simple things like this that enable us to help ourselves and a fellow blogger.


  33. useful post ..
    thanx Darren (Y)

  34. I use Hydra Network which allows me to choose the banner ad that I want to use from ad categories like financial, health, insurance, retail, mortgage, business opprtunities, etc.

    I pick the ad I want, they provide the html and I can track clicks and sales in real time. The commissions paid vary depending on the product and the action the reader has to take.

    You can see an example on my blog on the right side down a little bit. One is for an education and scholrship search program. You can ad the ad to the bottom of your posts if you want to as well.

    Check it out and let me know if you have any questions. The link to the site is http://www.lynxtrack.com/afclick.php?o=5831&b=y301cm4r&p=14&s=33099

  35. Great tips about not leaving empty ad slots. I will have to start working on that today! Thanks Darren for the great ideas

    I have an ad spot on my blog if anyone is interested…. We could negotiate a deal..

  36. I always enjoy your creative ideas. Thanks a bunch.

  37. This is a really nice list. I’ve been trying to get my traffic up so that I can place ads on it as well. There are some tactics here that I’ve considered, and many I haven’t. Either way they are really useful to help up-and-coming bloggers make some cash.

    Thanks for the info…

  38. Wow! I love the idea of swapping with a blogger or with one of your other blogs. Actually, I do do the latter on one of my blogs — have another blog there.

    How about this for increasing reader loyalty: an ad for a contest you’re running.

    krissy knox :)

  39. I really like the idea of running internal ads to fill an empty ad slot. It’s not something that most readers would “expect” to see, so I imagine it could be quite effective… plus, it helps keep your sidebar from just looking likie a moneymaker.

  40. Nice tips, Darren. I always end up putting hosting affiliate ads on my make money online blogs, and it seems like if I come back to them in a month, they usually have generated some amount of cash. So I would recommend affiliate ads.

  41. First off I would like to say that there is a lot of good information in thus post. I am new to the blog arena (http://www.moneyisjustanidea.com) and I have come across this issue. Thanks I will continue to check your site for more helpful hints.

  42. Have you ever looked into Project Wonderful. It is a service which can manage your ad space through auction and if you have enough traffic you would never have an empty ad. The service is not widely used yet but it is growing every day with new advertisers specifically in the blog arena.

  43. Thanks for the tips on how to take advantage of the empty ad slot! I hope to implement one of those ideas.

  44. I’ve been thinking about adding some ad spots to my blog. Since I don’t have any spots right now, I clearly don’t have any ads. I’m thinking about just putting up links to really distinguished sites in my niche, hoping that it will make my site look more reputable. We’ll see. Insightful post.

  45. Another idea is to advertise your other site. You can put a link to DPS on unsold inventory.

  46. Hi, Darren,

    FOP isn’t big (or useful) enough to post ads. Or at least I haven’t tried monetizing yet, so I don’t know if this is even possible to do.

    What about employing an unused space to include a good word for non-profit charitable agencies that are trying to make a positive difference in the world? A blogger who is trying to build a money-making enterprise might consider it wasted space, but who knows what benefits the good karma might bring? At the least, you would be modeling responsive (and responsible) social awareness.

  47. I’m Sure most bloggers have more than one website, so its a good idea to promote your other websites in the free ad slot available,

  48. Darren – Its really very tough to get regular advertisers for small blogs. Blogs like ProBlogger will surely advance booking for the ad-slots but that’s not the case for a new blog or even blogs which are having some decent traffic. I have seen that most of the blogs use affiliate banners to fill up their ad slots and I think that’s the best way till you get some advertisers.

  49. I believe the best way to monetise a empty ad slot on your blog is to sell your own ad space instead of putting adsense or text link ads for example.

    Those are my 2 bucks on it.

    Ultimate Money Makers

  50. I usually just place a n advertise here logo in the advert space so that I can generate interest in the advert space. However I do like the idea of swapping advertising with another blogger.

    I have some friends in the same niche as me and I may try and test this.

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