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7 Reasons not to have Empty Ad Spots on your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 15th of February 2009 Advertising 0 Comments

This is a guest post written by Ben Barden, developer for the CMF Ads advertising network, which offers low cost, no-nonsense advertising.

Blog advertising is an excellent way to reach a wide audience without breaking the bank. It can also make money for your own blog. There is a mistake that quite a few blogs make – using a lot of empty ad spots. There are a few reasons why I think this is a bad idea.

1. It devalues the ads.

If nobody is buying ads on your site, perhaps the ad price is too high for the traffic your site receives. This suggests your site doesn’t provide value to advertisers. Who wants to be the first to buy an ad when there are 5 empty spots?

2. It makes you look desperate.

I’ve seen sites with a whole row of empty ad spots – to me, this looks like the blogger is begging for money. Let’s face it, a lot of people want to make some money from their blog – simply saying “I have ad spots for sale” isn’t enough of a reason for most advertisers, unless they already know your site.

3. It’s a negative lifesign.

It’s like seeing 0 comments or 0 views on a post. If you come back and see the same thing again, the blog is probably dead. Don’t leave empty ad spots on your blog for long.

4. It’s a waste of space.

Some blogs like to put a lot of widgets on the page. But how many of these are worth having? If you have an empty ad spot that just isn’t getting filled, could you put something more valuable in that spot?

5. It puts a limit on the number of ads you’ll accept.

If you have empty ad spots, it suggests there’s a maximum number of ads you’re willing to display. So if you have 6 empty spots, you might not sell more than 6 ads. But if you have 2 running ads and no empty spots, advertisers can just contact you about buying an ad on your site. Also, if you get a very generous offer to advertise on your site, you may want to consider pushing the limit. This is less likely to happen if you limit yourself with empty ad spots.

6. It makes it harder to promote different ad placements.

If a site has different ads running on each post, this suggests the blog is open to flexible advertising. If you use the same “empty ad” image for every ad spot then this doesn’t give the impression of flexibility, as it suggests you can’t buy ads on specific posts. However, you can get around this by using a different “empty ad” image for each zone, or specifying the available ad spots on your Advertise page.

7. It limits you to certain ad sizes.

If you have loads of empty 125×125 ad spots, advertisers may not realise that you offer different ad sizes. Empty spots can show advertisers where their ads will appear, but this could be done just as effectively with an image of your blog, highlighting the various ad spots.

Is one empty ad spot acceptable?

Sometimes it helps to have one empty ad spot if you don’t have any ads up yet. This shows you accept advertising. It’s just better not to have a lot of empty ad spots.

What you should do:

Create an Advertise page that specifies what you allow and what you don’t allow. Advertisers can contact you with their requirements and you can decide if you wish to accept their ad request.

That’s my opinion – what do you think? Do you have empty ad spots on your blog? Why/why not?

Note from Darren: Thanks to Ben for this post. Tomorrow I want to follow it up by sharing 5 things that I do with empty ad slots on my blogs – alternatives to simply deleting them. Watch the Problogger RSS feed for this post.

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Yep for me main point is … this will send a negative message to my readers and I do not want to accept it in any circumstances.

    When readers start comparing one blog to another than they consider even tinny factors as well and such tinny factors can be major one.

    Loosing even one reader is big issue for me.

  2. Thats a great post and waiting for your follow up post Darren Thanks :)

  3. I try and keep the spots full, even if I have to use affiliate offers to fill them. I really like using the OiO Publisher plugin for this because you can have any number of “default” ads to fill the spaces.

    Good list!

  4. Interesting post.

    Looking forward to your follow up Darren!

  5. It’s easy enough to go to Commission Junction or whoever and sign up for some affiliate schemes to fill the ad slots until something more lucrative comes in. Then at least you’ll be earning *something* and the ad slots won’t be empty.

  6. One reason is enough, asking for some thing will low the odds of getting it. after reaching a point of having a high traffic blog, advertisers on your niche will contact you and make a generous offer

  7. I do have one empty one, but I will be removing it now.

    Good post.

  8. This is helpful. I’ve always wondered why people leave a lot of empty ad spots. It just devalues the blog, in my mind. I often have one Your Ad Here button, but no more than that. Looking forward to Darren’s post tomorrow.

  9. Maybe you can comment on advertising balance on blogs or include a link in your new post if you already have. I keep seeing these slick well-designed blogs that have lost the blog flavor and seem too commercial and impersonal. I am trying to supply quality info in a niche market while bringing in ad revenue and keep my blog looking like a blog, What’s the balance point?
    Thank you

  10. I’ve got 3 open 125s on one page and 5 on another…. Thanks for the slap in the face! I’m thinking about putting adsense in there…. Maybe Darren will address that–I hope it’s not a bad idea. I’m looking for affiliates to put in, but haven’t found the right ones yet and I don’t want to promote crap.

  11. People tend to act base on perception such as stock market. Same thing goes to this issue.

    With empty ad spots are all over our blog, this will give signs to advertiser that something is wrong with our blog.

    They will start asking themselves why it is happening and it will usually lead to unfavorable reasons. Therefore, they will cancel their plan on having their ad in our blog.

    For me, I prefer to develop my blog site 1st until it will reach the level where finding advertiser is not a big issue. Through that, I will not definitely give bad impression about my site.

  12. A nice follow-up would be what to put on empty ad spaces when there are no advertisers.

  13. This is very helpful. Waiting for your next post.

  14. But i think to put an ampty ad on your blog (such as side bar) is workable to tell somebody that there is an ad available on your blog and you want to sell it out, you make an offer.

  15. I was getting all horrified thinking of the empty ad space on my new UAE based blog till I read that it’s okay to have one ad space empty. Phew.

    Also, I like the idea of putting up an image of the blog highlighting where the advertisements can go.

    I’m glad you’re gonna do a post about ways to fill up ad spaces Darren. I was thinking that the post raises valid points but it doesn’t offer solutions.

  16. Frank Katalenas says: 02/15/2009 at 1:12 am

    Thanks Darren,

    I have not launched my site yet, but I did choose a template with ad space included out of the box. I guess you are suggesting to delete them, or at lease use Adsense to fill the space?

  17. I have one “your ad here” spot and I think I’ll be keeping it there. It serves its purpose. One thing I’ve found helpful is linking that ad to my advertising info page. I’ve seen so many blogs where the link doesn’t go anywhere or even worse, can’t be clicked on at all. Make that spot work for you!

  18. Sarah says: 02/15/2009 at 1:20 am

    I love this site, and this is a great post. I hate to ask a stupid question, but
    What do you do if you don’t have ads yet? Just fill those spaces with content until you do? Create ads for your own stuff?

  19. i don’t have any space in my blog coz if i have then i put any widget there :D

  20. I used to just leave at least 1 empty ad post ;)

  21. I used to have empty ads space on my site, it made the blog look about as popular as tabasco hemorrhoid cream!, but thankfully I realized this and took it down!:).

    I still see allot of new blogs do this tho!, maybe they need to read this post!;))

  22. Ok…I love working on my website, and initially I was thinking of using ads as a way of generating money. But from having the site for over 2 months, I am realizing that I need to change business plans. I am seriously thinking about selling products on my site as a way to generate revenue. I think that could be more profitable than ad placements. What do you think?

  23. It is good to leave just 1 spot, so that your readers would know that there is a spot available and that they should hurry to take the space before it is goes to someone else.

  24. Advertisements are a great way to make side money off of blogs, however I do have to agree having it take up blank space does not help the marketing of advertisements.

    @Dabbygag, Personally I’m of the opinion of having multiple sources of income in a blog if your attempting to make money off of it if thats a possibility. I’m not a fan of putting all of my eggs in one basket though ;)

  25. What about AdSense? I use AdSense and I don’t choose the ads on my blog. I’m assuming this is for small timers like me that haven’t established a large readership. Do you not recommend using something like AdSense?

  26. Good information. Put some graphics up or links to popular posts in your blog when you don’t have ads up.

  27. Darren, I always learn something new when ever I read your blog, recently I have added an advertising page, to tell Advertisers about it and help them contact me.

    I offer it for everybody, to get a copy from it and edit it the way it match their rules and information!

  28. I’ve found that having one empty slot open is likely to attract advertisers. It kind of triggers a “only one spot left, this must be a good deal…” thought in advertisers’ heads or something.

    Buy Sell Ads, the marketplace that I recently moved to after selling ads myself for a year or so, seems to recognize this effect, and displays one empty at all times, so long as you haven’t sold your specified maximum yet.

  29. I enjoyed Micheal Dunlop’s recent post http://www.retireat21.com/blog/sold-my-advertising-now-what where he introduced text based alternatives ‘recommended websites’ and it has worked wonders for him, instead f only focusing on banners.

  30. Agree. I’d remove empty ad spots or fill it with some “free of charge” ad. You can ask some web site owners to put their ad on your web-site just for free. It doesn’t cost them anything and your blogs looks like full of ad.

  31. I do have one spot that is rotating ads. One of those (unless I’m too crowded) is “advertise here” banner that links to my advertise page. that way, there is only one “empty spot” that is not there all the time.

  32. That is a good point, I’m in the middle of a re-design, need to keep my eye on the ads, I think dead adverts or blank like you say does look bad.

  33. I agree completely. The offers you get for ad space will probably be higher if it looks like there is high demand. Empty spot = supply is greater than demand. If you can’t fill the spot with a pre-paid ad, then pop in a high profile affiliate ad, not one that screams …. I couldn’t fill the spot.

  34. I think attractive ads, actually ad to the visual appeal of a site. They can make it look more alive, empty ad blocks are deadzones.

  35. Thanks for the comments everyone. :)

    Sue – if you can fill the ad spots with something like an affiliate ad, I think that’s a lot better than just leaving them empty.

    ModernPainter – I understand your point – design is very subjective though. As a general rule I usually opt for a clean design with hardly any clutter. Including a small photo in the sidebar can go a long way to making a blog feel a bit more personal.

    Frank – without a link to your site, it’s difficult to know how many ads you have – so I’d just suggest keeping the empty spots to a minimum. You could put AdSense there or you could just delete the empty spots altogether. They can always be added back :)

    Sarah – I think Darren is going to address that in his follow-up, but one suggestion came up earlier – you could run an affiliate ad. I think that as long as you don’t have a lot of empty ad spots (try to limit yourself to just one, if you want any at all) then you should be OK.

    Dabbygag – different blogs require different methods. Experiment with a few ways to make money, read some of the other posts at ProBlogger.net, and see how you get on. :)

    Off to check out some of your blogs – thanks again for the great comments.

  36. You’ve given me some great things to think about here Ben. I’ve never been one to place that many ads on my site in the first place but its still good to think about all possible scenarios.

    All the best,
    Reggy

  37. Thanks for the ideas, my blog is still in its infancy and so far I only put a few adsense ads (suffice to say it hasn’t received much clicks).

    I think it also depends on the theme you put on. I know a lot of blogs use the Thesis theme – I don’t use this theme, but I’m sure that the theme allows you to customise the number of ads?

    I might go and purchase that theme in the near future, when my blog has grown a bit more.

    Regards,

    Christian
    http://www.comfort-breeze.com

  38. I knew this wasn’t good for attracting advertisers but wasn’t sure about how to solve the problem. Thanks for pointing it out. Perception is so important on the net when people can quickly click and go somewhere else. Can’t wait for the followup article.

  39. @ The Urban Beauty

    Yeah I always take my readers as monkey and I do believe that if I wont provide them good things to read than they will jump to other website.

    So you will have to tackle them smartly.

  40. @ The Urban Beauty

    Yeah I always take my readers as monkey and I do believe that if I wont provide them good things to read than they will jump to other website.

  41. A very wise post. I have followed that logic for a long time. Having an advertising info page on your blog is good as well to help any potential advertisers.

    I can only assume Darren is going to talk about filling your empty ad slots with affiliate links so that you at least have the potential of making money with your ad slot while leaving open the opportunity to change out the ad for a paying client at any time.

  42. The Geek Universalis Network has a batch of ad spaces, mostly filled with Google Adsense, plus one for network members to advertise our stuff. We left one of a four-part square blank with “your ad here” to let people know that we’re currently accepting ads. We also swap in holiday ads from Amazon.com to help with visual variety.

  43. I think having one empty one is fine unless you are a big time blogger. Helps to show you have one open to advertisers.

  44. An empty ad is like a missing tooth in a smile.

    Ben’s own CMF Ads is a pretty darn good way to fill the gap.

  45. On the other hand, too many ads is overkill as well.
    On some site, I purposely do not have any ads, if people are really interested, they will contact to advertise on the site anyways

  46. Thats interesting. Never thought spaces for ads impact the advertisers that much. Thank you so much Ben for sharing your ideas!

  47. I agree with Sue in having a couple of affiliate banners instead of the missing tooth (as Ken Armstrong says). I would have done it if my blog had those empty spaces.

  48. Too many ads too will make your readers turn away. Just a few wont hurt I guess

  49. For the specialized websites I create I find the 125 x 125 ads don’t work very well.

    Direct links inside my post work the best.

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