Adsense Experiments: The Best Adsense Placement

Written: 2009

There's lots of general Adsense ad placement advice out there, but it's all the same basic stuff. If you really want to make money with Adsense, you'll need to do some experimentation. That's what I've done. Here are my results, and some Adsense tips from my experience.

1 – Medium Rectangle (MR) vs. Large Rectangle (LR)

I tried this matchup out on various pages, with the ad unit above my header text. LR was the winner, by a reasonable margin of around 15-20%. It's just a bigger and more noticeable ad, which more often holds four ads instead of three. This is a logical outcome.

2 – Large Rectangle vs. Leaderboard (LB)

In the same position (above the article header), the Leaderboard's clickthrough rate (CTR) was about half that of the LR. I've tried LB's in all kinds of different places and setups, and they're almost always terrible. People have just got used to recognising leaderboards and banners as advertising.

3 – Link Units (LU)

At first, I plonked a few LU's in, and watched them fail for a while. Then I removed them. However, my later experimentation with this particular Google Adsense ad was more fruitful.

You can't use LU's like any other ad. They have to be put in a logical place.

At the end of a page, these do well. (Better than Large or Medium Rectangles.) At the end of a multi-page article, they do even better.

As you may already know, LU's bring up a whole page of links when clicked on. You only get paid when someone then clicks again on that page. Because of the bidding system on Google Adwords, this page will be filled with links from the top 10+ bidders, and not the top four, like a normal ad would. These subsequent bidders have bid less, and thus you get paid less if the visitor chooses to click on their links.

You should expect the pay per click amount of LU's to be about half that of a regular ad. They're still worth using though. I use the 728x15 ad, with only four ads. It's important that the LU text is similar in size to the body text of your article and the links in it. (Which is size 10 here.)

4 – The best position on the page to put ads

The top. This is the prime real estate. Everyone reads/looks at the first bit. You can put ads lower down the page, especially on sub-headers on pages that aren't designed to be read top-to-bottom. However, for normal pages, the small area at the top will account for 90% of your Adsense revenue.

So, how many ads should you put at the top then?

5 – Combinations of multiple ad types at the top of the article

Instead of having an ad above or below the article title and introduction, I tried doing both. I expected that each ad would have a CTR below that of the original single ad, but that together, they might add up to more than 100% of the original.

I tried various ad integrations and blendings of ads. I tried making the two ads be of different types. I put the page title and introduction in a coloured box with a text ad. The ad had the same background colour as the box. I also tried the popular "wrapping" layout, where the text goes to the right of the ad. These web page layouts all failed.

In the end, I just put a LR above the title and intro, and another LR below, hoping that two of my trusty LR's might give me (for example) 70% and 40% of the original CTR, and hence some slight improvement.

To my astonishment, the results were more like 120% and 30%.

The second LR generated a reasonable amount of clicks, but it also actually increased the CTR of the first ad. This pattern persisted across multiple trials, and LR-Intro-LR is now my preferred format (along with a four-ad 728x15 LU at the bottom of the page.) My hypothesis is that these two LR's (as well as being the best ad type) are just so big that they push the page content off the screen for many visitors. The visitor is shown the ads first, and then if they're not interested, they can just scroll down a few lines, to the content.

So... how many ads can you add?

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