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December 29, 2014

AdSense Alternatives Show Relevant Ads Visitors WANT to Watch

Image courtesy of ( David Castillo Dominici) /

The days of consumers sitting through boring ads are over. Who hasn’t fast-forwarded through the ads? When YouTube allowed viewers to skip ads, advertisers stepped up their game. They had to figure out how to make their ads so engaging viewers would choose to watch them. Now publishers can apply what they’ve learned to increase ad income.

Whether you are making a good income from Google AdSense or not, publishers who diversify their incomes are in a better position to weather any changes in online user behavior. What works changes over time and mobile device use will be driving much of that change.


Just as banner blindness is a well-known phenomenon, having your ads always appear in the same place allows them to be easily and automatically — even subconsciously — tuned out. Some AdSense alternatives have designed new features that better target viewers to increase response rates.

Banner Blindness in Typical Ad Placements
Traditionally, banner ads appear in the same sizes and locations on most sites. For example, common sizes and placement are:

  • Banners in headers of either 728×90 or 468×60
  • Large banners in the right sidebar of 300×250 or 250×250
  • Small 125×125 squares in sidebars
  • 468×60 banners under posts

These placements are easily tuned out and not as effective on mobile devices. Even sites that continually test banners are seeing decreased effectiveness. Banner ads are being gradually replaced by what are being called ‘native’ ad units.

Increase Engagement by Using Native Ad Units
The first native method was to use in-text links. If these are not carefully targeted or there are too many, readers find them annoying. Relevance is essential, because if they aren’t relevant you will train your readers never to click on these types of links. Even when relevant, in-text links should be minimized.

Lack of relevance actually trains viewers to tune out ads. Dave Zinman, CEO of Infolinks, explains:

Most ad platforms deliver ads whether they are relevant to the reader or not. This has caused click through rates (CTRs) to drop from around two percent to CTRs as low as .05 percent according to Google’s Doubleclick. It is essential to change not only where you display the ads, but also why you display a particular ad.

Using Search Queries to Trigger Relevant Ads

The most impressive method for increasing conversions is using search queries to trigger ads. Search is the strongest indicator of visitor intent and ensures increased interest in a particular ad. Combining visitor intent with unique ad placement creates verifiable uplift in interactions.

Instead of ads being static, Infolinks has introduced multiple new ad formats triggered by search intent. InSearch displays an ad only when the visitor landed on your page from a search. InTag places a customizable ad unit with the most relevant, high value ad links in your content.  InFold places the most relevant ad for each visitor just above the fold in the content area. InFrame takes advantage of the space outside a site’s content area to slide in an ad on either side, capturing the visitor’s attention. The best way to understand how these new types of ads work is to view this product line video.

Advertisers and publishers both benefit from the increased click through rates created when ads are more relevant and visible. If ad income is important to your site, using search queries to trigger more visible ads will increase that income — especially from mobile users.

Huge Improvement in Mobile CTRs
Compare the dismal .05 percent CTR for banners to the up to .52 percent CTRs on mobile ads reported by Mobile is the golden goose of ad marketing and early adopters of new methods will reap the strongest benefits. When what you do is unique and cutting edge you get vastly more attention than later when adoption rates soar.


Every site needs to be mobile-responsive because that is where the big conversion uplifts are.  Make updating your sites and blogs and how you display ads your top priority for 2015. Here are  17 Tools To Improve Your Blog’s Ad Revenue to kick off your new year.


Gail Gardner provides small business marketing strategy at Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.