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Does Your Blog Look Like NASCAR?

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

In this post, Jack Gamble from Babeled talks about ad placement and the risk of overdoing it.

nascarAre you responsible for a website that has so many ads that it looks like Dale Earnhardt Jr. should be driving it in circles at high speed with a strange aversion to right turns?

That is because your advertisements are out of control.

Like all things in life, with advertising you need to know when to stop. If there is one thing that drives me crazy, it’s arriving at a blog and being bombarded by a mess of Goggle Adsense, pop-ups, and 125×125 banner ads. All of these are ways to bring in some cash for your hard work, but at what point does it become counterproductive?

Here’s a hint: if I need to scroll down to get to your content because you have nothing but ads above the fold, then I am never coming back to your site. I will not click your ads. I will not subscribe to your feed. I will not download your e-book. I will not tell my friends about you. Are you getting the point? Too much advertising on your blog is simply insulting to your readers.

You need to come up with some simple guidelines for your ad campaign and stick to your guns. I’m not going to tell you that this ad is good and that one is bad. But I will tell you that there is certainly a point where the next ad you put up will cost you money.

Try testing yourself. Click on any post in your blog and scroll down to an arbitrary point in the post. Now take stock in what you see. What percentage of the screen is dedicated to advertisement? If the number is too high, then you’re readers are not happy (if you have any left).

So what percent of space should you dedicate to displaying ads?

Let’s look at the other popular media outlets our there. In television for example, the average 1 hour show has about 44 minutes of programming and 16 minutes of commercials. That is an ad/content ratio of just over 26%.

Print magazines are far worse. The average magazine has an ad/content ratio on the order of 40%! This doesn’t exactly demonstrate a devotion to reader satisfaction. Could this be part of the reason that print magazine circulation has fallen more than 10% since 2008?

So what can we take away from these numbers? For starters, you need to get your ratio down as low as possible. Certainly the 40% magazine standard is a failing number, and in my opinion, the 26% TV figure is not much better.

All the ads in the world won’t do you any good if there is nobody there to see them. If your blog has been sitting idle with no growth in earnings, subscribers, or traffic then try removing some of the ads. You will find that a user friendly site with solid content and a few small ads will consistently outperform a confusing cluster of banners.

So unless your blog has a world class pit crew and can do more than 200 miles per hour, you better do something about your ad/content ratio. My challenge to you is get your ratio down to 20% or less. Your readers (and your revenue) will thank you.

Image: aarmono

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. I 100% AGREE, specially on the point that says “if I need to scroll down to get to your content because you have nothing but ads above the fold, then I am never coming back to your site”

    Very well said Jack!



  2. When I read this post title I was expecting it to be along the lines of “Does your blog go in a circle forever and waste a lot of your fuel?”

    Good post though. I think I’ll try retooling the ads at least. I try not to advertise anything I personally don’t recommend, but there’s always room for improvement.

  3. I believe in simple website design with solid use of white space and plenty of room around the content.

    Content is king. I understand the advertising thing and utilize it myself, as do most blog owners, but using it in moderation is the key.

    And I agree with the writer — sometimes content is actually below the fold. Crazy, or what?

  4. I agree. I usually do not go back to a blog filled with too much ads. It’s an eyesore. And yes, quite insulting to readers. 20% less is a good ratio – thanks for the reminder.

  5. Using simple banner ads and adsense in the sidebar with some in text links, will never effect your users, but using popups are really bad. Actually there are many sites which are filled with ads, but still they are very popular. I truly haven’t got the formula of ad placement. Anyhow this was a pretty good post.

    Vishal Sanjay

  6. Funny thing is I have a site about NASCAR that I don’t want to look anything like Nascars website as it is way to cluttered with ads.

    It is a shame that they are missing the point but I guess they need the money.

  7. I just started putting ads back on my blogs, and I’m very careful not to overdo. I’m like you…if I have to scroll down to get to content, forget that site…never comin’ back. I don’t mind a small line of Google text links, or even one small banner, but if your header is so large that I can’t see the content on my screen when I go into your site, I just click out. On my own pages, I don’t even put ads on top. I put some on the sides, but only one block per side, and a small line of text links after every other post. And I HATE blinking ads, which means I will probably never come back here either. I have migraines, and those ads can trigger them, just in case you didn’t know.

  8. Indeed there needs to be some kind of sanity check, Ultimately people do not visit our sites for ads they show for the content. Any monetization will only work when it complements the content rather than replacing it.

  9. Good advice. Fortunately my blogs are simple and pleasant!

  10. We actually tested Aweber’s slide in (which looks like a pop-up) for our newsletter. It increased sign up rate by around 400%. I thought it might decrease page views as people got fed up of it, but page views actually increased as people signing up clicked on the links in the welcome newsletter and came back to the site. I don’t like pop-ups, but they work.

  11. The most annoying thing is to come across web pages that contain ad pop-ups. What I will do is to just close the windows as I don’t believe the site has anything useful to offer.

  12. great analogy. and for new blogs it doesn’t hurt to not have any ads. The value to the blogger of advertising doesn’t come in until the audience is quite large, and even then having a few very relevant ads will have a much better conversion than a site littered with them.

  13. I think it comes from the fact I don’t like clutter (in general not just on a website) that I instantly get turned off when I visit a site/blog with a billion and 1 ads.

    It’s tough though because my blog hasnt been up for long and I’m constantly think about how to improve it or maybe generate a little bit of cash. I recently toys with the idea of Google Adsense but came to the conclusion that it would just clutter the blog up.

    I can see why blogger do it though – I just don’t think it’s for me and my site.

    Love the Nascar reference!

  14. Good analogy–the nascar thing is really funny.

  15. You definitely don’t want you blog to look to spammy with ads all over the place. If you do place ads on your blog, make sure that they flow nicely with the content and it looks like you are trying to add value to the user instead of trying to sell them on something

  16. For me, our blog reader won’t mind if we have ad banner in our site.

    Unfortunately,there are quite a number of blogger that are too greedy in getting fast money by putting ad banner all over their blog – a sign of ‘nascar car’ syndrome.

    For me, it is always best to keep our site as clean and simple as possible as it will our blog reader and reduce the ‘noise’ that can distract our blog readers’ attention.

    What if we only have one banner section in evey time our readers scroll up and down at one particular moment? Will it be good approach?

  17. I agree. If I have to hunt for the content, I’m gone!

  18. The really sad part is, many of those people who have “NASCAR” looking blogs, obviously aren’t aware of a very simple sales rule …

    The more choices you give someone, the less likely they are to make ANY decision.

    Fewer, relevant ads will almost always perform much better than a page full of flashiness … with a bit of content squeezed in for good measure.

  19. First I think you need to rewrite your blog title because I am not only a NASCAR fan, but write on it, as a matter of fact, that is most of one of my sites RaceDriven.com. But more so, it doesn’t draw in people with what you trying to say in your article.

    However beyond the title I completely agree with you. I try and model my site after this site ProBlogger because the ad placement ratio is actually pretty low. One button up top and 8 125×125 buttons down the right side.

    I can say that no reader of mine has to scroll to read the first post title and first paragraph. Content is still king, thats what your readers are there for.

    Despite the title, good article.

  20. Hi Darren.

    Peels away ads sometimes annoys me! Anyway, thanks for your advice. I hope my blog doesn’t look like a NASCAR race car. :)

  21. I am an ads’ junkie. I love them. It might even happen that I buy a magazine just to check out the ads inside of it. I could even watch a tv channel that focuses primarly on ads.

    That said, ads on a web page are a completely different story, some of them are painful for one’s eyes and they manage to ruin the design of your webpage. And in the end I wonder if they are really financially worth it. I personally don’t use them, my 3 readers won’t click them, so it’s pointless.

  22. It’s odd to say print magazines are worse for having the percentage of ads they do. If they don’t have 40% of space in ads, you get 0% of magazine.

    More importantly, the ads offer value to the readers. Who hates the camera ads in a photo magazine? And they fit how we read. We browse magazines for articles and ads both. It’s like bullet points in sales copy: you don’t know which one will be the tipping point.

    We browse the Internet differently. So the ads still have to offer value, if differently. My main problem with NASCAR-style ads is that readers are blind to them. So they don’t get the value the ads offer and I don’t get any revenue.

  23. thanx for the advices ;)

  24. Very good. I agree with Kevin the analogy is funny. Great Post.

  25. Hi there,
    I am completely agree with you.If so many ads appears on your site it can hurt your readership.You can loss readers.
    So don’t make your blog like a dustbin…

  26. Great point!!! I need to rethink some of my big name affiliates – really that’s all they are – big names and minimal earnings!!! I get more out of the teeny tiny “personal adds”… Thanks for the reminder, I should stick with them!!!

  27. 100 % agree with you.I like the site like Zenhabits.Without ads or with less ads.
    I am working on a project which is non profit project without advertisements and completely focused on Young People.
    I’ll never visit any blog like you,if having garbage of advertisements.

  28. Thank you for this advice. I have 2 advertisements on my blog and I think it looks horrible. I had no intention of showing advertisements when I designed my blog. I will be re-designing it and changing to Thesis theme in a couple of weeks. I wondered how much space to leave for advertisements. I will use the 20% recommendation.

  29. Clean and simple layout is best for the blog or site.You can publish advertisements using some spots like leaderboard in the header section or 125×125 not more than 4 units on the sidebar.

  30. Totally agree with this one. In fact, it reminds of another article I read here a few months ago about how someone doubled their ad sense revenue by removing one of their ads and making a single large one, instead of 2 smaller ones.

  31. This is something that we as bloggers always need to be aware of. I know I’m guilty of it myself sometimes. There are just so many opportunities staring you in the face that you wish you could advertise them all. The dollar is a powerful thing but we have to stay strong and remember why we blog. It’s certainly nice to make money from your blog, but if you let your blog become more about making money and less about content, it won’t be worth much to anybody. Great post.

  32. I get scared when I see blogs like that. I try to keep mines simple because too many choices can overwhelm a reader.

  33. “For starters, you need to get your ratio down as low as possible.For starters, you need to get your ratio down as low as possible.”

    I’m just starting my new blog. I’m planing to add only a 300×250 square ad block in the sidebar. This is gonna be after six months and I’ll keep it that way.

  34. Very interesting point of view.

    About 2 months ago, I asked my web master to pull down all Amazon + Adsense banners on my new site.

    I know have a few sponsorship spots + text ads and no more flash ads.

    As a result, the site looks cleaner AND my opt-ins have really grown quite a lot in the process.

    My first blog does look a bit like a NASCAR. I’m in the process of deciding if I sell it or keep it and when that’s decided I will revise ads and get rid of those that are not brining in any revenues.

    Thanks for a great discussion!

  35. I derive a much greater pleasure from a clean, calm design than I would from a fistful of dollars that my blog might bring in every month. My 9-5 job is there to pay the bills.

  36. I’ve just started a new blog, with advertising. I’m a bit worried about my ads, but I’d like some revenue! Especially since I’d love to be a full-time blogger… I’m hoping that my (future) readers will tell me if I’ve ever overdone it. This article was quite relevant for me.

  37. Here, here!

  38. Very useful advice. Totally agree with u. Hope my blog won’t look like a Nascar.


  39. The writer has hit it on the head, I am even begining to wonder whether google adjusts the cost per click of adsense displayed on the sites with too many adsense, it appears to me that websites with fewer adsense displayed has higher rate of cost per clicks for those few ads displayed.

    Blogs with too many ads will likely not see me again, I won’t click on any of the ads either, except if I’m sleep browsing lol

  40. Love your site, love your info, I share your posts often with my readers and twitter peeps. But I dislike the flash in the ads on your site. I will probably never click on of your ads (like you suggest in your story) because they annoy me. Sorry.

    When on your site, I change the size of my Firefox window to cover up your ads. I look at the ad, and am annoyed by it, therefore I don;t want to buy it. Also, although I think I am an average reader (or I represent at least a descent percentage of your readers) your ads are for items not of interest to me (except maybe Demand Studios – which is not flash), and I’ve seen most of them before anyway.

    You most certainly aren’t the only person using flash ads, but my Flash program was down for a week or so, guess what – I enjoyed seeing the web flash free, hardly missed it.

    Note to advertisers, one requirement you could set is no flah in ads on your site. or try testing them over a couple of months – w/ & w/o flash – you might be surprised. Then again, knowing you, you have already done this test and proved me wrong.

    Great site otherwise, your content has been useful to me.

  41. Yeah, nascar blog surely can distract the readers.

  42. I think ads before the actual content is the worst. I hate having to scroll down just to find the actual post. I removed a lot of my ads early on and I’m so glad I’ve done it.

  43. Totally agree. Too many ads can take away from a website and possibly turn people away.

  44. Help!

    I hate the look of google ads! I have reluctantly put them in my articles and am making about $50 per week. I wish there was another way I could advertise…

    My ads on the side don’t sell very well but then again I haven’t really pushed them. I don’t even know how much I should charge advertisers for those 125×125 ad spaces.

    Any suggestions…?


  45. I’m kind of with WIllian @ DIT Video – Print magazines: no ads, no magazine.

    Besides, in some magazines (I’m thinking Vogue), the action is *in* the ads.

  46. Good post and informative. Very nice comparison between a nascar and a blog full of ads. But if you could blend the ads nicely to a blog, then maybe it won’t look like a mess. Just use ads in moderation not putting all kinds of ads under the sun in your blog.

  47. I think space should be appropriate enough and not larger than the content space. I think I should keep my blog as clean as possible and it is not my time to generate revenue for my small blog

  48. I agree too as I keep my blog as a way to generate traffic to buy product on the site.

  49. Would you believe the Problogger Sponsors wouldn’t load for me in the sidebar? I just thought it was kind of ironic considering the content. :)


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