Why You Should Be Careful with Ads on Your Site

By Daniel Scocco

There is nothing wrong with trying to make money from a website. You put hard work into it, you provide value to other people, so you should get compensated for it.

The mistake many website owners and bloggers do, however, is to get greedy once they see real bucks coming in. That is when they put one of the following factors on the site:

  • too many ads
  • ads heavily blended with the content
  • ads with flashy colors
  • unrelated ads
  • animated ads that are distracting

While in the short run these “methods” might increase your revenues, over the long term they will actually hurt your profitability. Having too many ads or intrusive ones will hurt the user experience and make you lose readers along the way.

And you don’t need to trust my advice here. Recently I came across a very short post from a Digg user where he was basically asking Digg to remove the video ads on the front page. Not only these ads were distracting because they played video, but they were also not relevant since they linked to a dating site.

Guess what, the little post created a huge buzz within the Digg community, and it received almost 4,000 diggs.

Now, if digg users, who are loyal and very attached to their site, would not stand some intrusive ads on the site, what makes you think that your readers will?



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22 Responses to “Why You Should Be Careful with Ads on Your Site”

  • Szoftver

    You are right, but to be honest, i as a reader don’t really care how many ads are on a page if the content is good. I only hate sites with 2-3 sentences that say nothing but full with pop-ups or pop-unders.

  • Johnkhoo

    I think too many ads is ok. But they have to be related. Once thing happens if there are too many ads in our site. The ads revenue will decreases, like Google adsense, too many ads will lower our CPC.

  • Mad Scientist

    I just found out about this particular blog through a guest post on Problogger, and I’m extremely happy I did. If only for priceless little tidbits like this, it was worth the visit. Now I’m just wondering at what point renting your own server to run ads is worthwhile. I’ll have to do some math and look for further advice 🙂

    Thanks for putting together such a great site!

  • webmasterblog

    Good point. I maked these misteakes one by one 🙂 But beleawe me you you hawe right…

  • Hectril

    Your right about having to many ads on your site. It gives negative result for your site and most of your readers won’t stay long if you have too many ads. One thing I notice though is that some sites don’t use much Google Adsense in their sites or flashy ads from other affiliate ads but use Adwords to have their own income. I’m glad you came with this article it really helps a lot.

  • Reverse Funnel System Blog

    Ads can bring money but its good to remember to not over ad your site.

  • Shakira Brown

    I agree with this post. there is a fine line between an overly commercial blog and one with substance along with ads. It is easy to get motivated to make money blogging and you can really get crazy with it. I started a shopping blog and it was so easy to get carried away with affiliate marketing. I started trying to place it in directories and I started getting declined. I think I have it right in my first blog about small business marketing and branding, but I have to find a happy medium for my shopping blog.

  • Joe

    It can be really hard to balance it. You want to make the money but don’t want to alienate people. You’ve got to work out the right balance, which is something I’m still working on.

    Ads can be a wonderful, terrible thing.

  • Staska

    Well, Daniel…

    It’s a really interesting set of examples.

    I’d say, because of inexperience.

    NYT moved away from subscription (Times Select) to advertising money making model just a couple of months ago. WSJ hasn’t yet, or is doing it right now.

    I only read few headlines and a few articles on the topic, and am too lazy to research tonight, so I’m not sure about time frame, but I’m sure about the facts …

    But I agree with your wider point. There is a balance line…

    It’s just much further away then you think initially. And you’ll never find it unless you test the limits…

    Just look at the interstitials and flash ads that you have to watch before you can view some of the most popular web content (on iVillage, tv.com and others).

  • Daniel Scocco

    I don’t agree Staska.

    John Chow is an exception, and that is why his blog is a “making money online” experiment in itself. Readers DO want him to try as many ad formats and methods as possible so that they can learn what works and what does not.

    There is balance line that you can not cross, else how do you explain that even the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal put ads moderately?

    They probably have the most reliable content on the Internet, still they cant put ads all over the place. I am sure they would if this would just add money to their pockets without have negative effects.

  • Staska

    Sorry, I hate to ruin this “nothing else matters but the experience of the user” fan contest, but I think it’s a load of crap.

    Of course, it may hurt you when you are overdoing it, but a single video ad anywhere on the page???

    The whiners will always complain, and the example you provided was a perfectly, if (maybe) unconsciously implemented diggbait.

    But from how many websites did you unsubscribe or stopped visiting due to excessive advertising?

    I did it once in my web browsing time ( and that’s over 10 years) and it was something where it really became to difficult to find content among advertising. And if content staid of the same quality as it started, I would have stayed too. Unfortunately articles turned into advertorials.

    My point is, that, if you provide a really good content and value to the reader, it doesn’t matter how much advertising you wrap around it.

    As long if he trusts you, can distinguish between advertorial and your content and enjoy it ( at least sometimes), and it doesn’t really affect content load times, even if a whole page takes 5 minutes to load fully… most of the readers will stay with you

    Just look at what John Chow is getting away with..

  • PurpleMinded

    I agree with Advice Network’s post. I think you need a minimum of ads to look credible. I told someone recently that I added Google Ads to my site. Her response, “Really? How’d you do that?”

    Too many ads? Sure, that can can be a problem – especially if they are out of context.

  • Etienne Teo

    I had most of my contextually ads removed from my contents, now it’s pretty much clean in the contents itself. I try to de-clutter my contents because readers want value and not some ads that is flashy or not relevant.

  • Advice Network

    I sometimes worry that people take my blog less seriously because there are no ads on it. What do you think, is that possible?

  • Egonitron

    Good point. We (as bloggers/free content providers) can’t be expected not to be compensated for our efforts. I strongly believe that it’s our duty as blog readers to not only happily put up with the ads, but to click on them if we’re interested. However, it seems too easy for some site owners to get “ad happy” – and that makes for a bad user experience. It’s easy to throw up another ad to make a few more bucks, but when it starts to become difficult to read your real content, you know you’ve gone too far.

  • 60 in 3 – Fitness and Health

    You also want to make that your ads aren’t actually clashing with your content. I run a small fitness blog and one of the things I always tell people is to avoid those silly “lose 20lbs in 1 week” diets. However, AdSense insists on running those ads on my site. It makes me look a bit foolish to be running those sites while also railing against them and I think some of my readers have an issue with it. I’ve slowly been weeding out the problem ads but they seem to crop back up over night. I’m still not sure I’ve solved the issue 100%.

    Gal

  • Not John Chow

    I also agree.

    Greed can grab hold of you (and your site) and distract you and your audience from the real reason we are here: the content.

    It is great to make money, but the money comes to you first through content and then from the ads. Not the other way around.

    Thanks.

    Not John Chow
    http://www.notjohnchow.com

  • chipseo

    Good points made in your article, thanks. I do think each site has to find the best mix of ad/content that will not distract from their overall message, whatever that is. Scott

  • Young

    Yes, no one like ads except the aders.

  • CompuWorld

    very true.

    even I used to have ads all over the place on my website when I was totally new. But it happens. When you start learning than you understand that today you might go on to earn some money but later it will hit your readers experiences. It is all about building the virtual relationship which gets in lots of good readers for you and they just wont like your idea of too many ads. It gives a feeling that you are a bit greedy whereas you on the other hand are trying to build a image of “honest” blogger!

    Now I use only one ad spot under the heading and one under the feed subscriber link in the sidebar!

    I do not even plan to have any 125×125 ad spots on my blog until I have a redesign.

    Totally concentrating on content/marketing these days..

  • Eli

    I completely agree with this article, and also that digg article that I saw the other day, I noticed the ads as well and they were seriously annoying.

    I try my best not to pack my websites full of ads 😉

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