Reality: Click-Through Rates On Banners Suck. What To Do?

Banner ads continue to be the de facto way to make money with a blog - or so it seems. But, the headline says it all: click-through rates on banners are typically pretty horrible. This has an effect on everybody involved.

Banner ads continue to be the de facto way to make money with a blog – or so it seems. But, the headline says it all: click-through rates on banners are typically pretty horrible.

This has an effect on everybody involved:

  1. Advertisers get increasingly more desperate to make their ad campaigns work, which leads to lower pay-outs, more annoying banners, etc.
  2. The end users end up being barraged with ever-increasing amounts of ads, thereby leading them to be even MORE likely to dismiss them.
  3. The blogger, looking to generate some revenue, ends up making less money with more ads.

The Problem

Here is a screenshot of the click stats on a small little banner campaign I recently ran on a site via BuySellAds:

Now, I fully admit that the banner I used in this campaign wasn’t the greatest. But, look at that click-through rate! Really, really low.

In this case, I am the advertiser. And, I won’t be renewing this ad. It just isn’t working. Good thing I didn’t pay out too much for it in the first place. 🙂

Most advertisers will agree that click-through rates, across the board, are low. You can get the CTR up with really ideal targeting (hard to pull off unless the niche is very specific), or one tries to combat it with more noticeable ads. You know the ones: animated images, “punch the monkey” ads – crap like that. Ironically enough, some companies have increased their CTR by going back to basics and making their banners look like simply HTML blue hyperlinks.

As a site owner looking to make money with ad campaigns, it puts us into a position, too. We’re compelled to accept more annoying advertising in order to make a buck. Or we try to make up for it in quantity. All of this just makes your site more annoying to visit.

Interruption Marketing versus Permission Marketing

The problem comes down to that.

Interruption marketing is advertising that is designed to reach out and grab your attention from whatever you’re doing and entice you to come on over. Banner ads ARE interruption marketing. You’re almost never looking for the things being advertised. They’re trying to make an uninterested prospect (who isn’t really a prospect at all)… and turn them into a prospect.

This is incredibly difficult to do – especially these days. The noise level is through the roof. While there are various studies out there with claims on the number of ads people are exposed to every day, it is safe to say we’re all exposed to a LOT of ads every single day. That number is increasing, too.

Neither bloggers or advertisers are helping the situation, either. Bloggers pack their sidebars with 125×125 ads, for example. With all those ads, the likelihood of any of them being clicked on is almost zero. Many bloggers try to make their site look popular by packing affiliate banners into those spots, not realizing they’re sending their click-rates through the floor by doing that – along with their incomes.

The other way to go is permission marketing.

You’ve probably figured it out already, but this means marketing to people who are pre-qualified and interested in that kind of message. The engagement level is MUCH higher this way.

But…

The Bar Is Raised – Yet Again

Even though marketing with permission is obviously better, the truth is even this has been abused to the point where now people are starting to perceive permission marketing as just more… interruption!

People are one-click away from unsubscribing to any email list. There are ad blockers out there. Systems like Google Voice are even making it more difficult for phone advertisers to get through. So, basically, advertisers started abusing these permission-based mediums. And consumers are throwing up their guard.

Time To Re-Think The Approach And Return To Basics.

In online marketing circles, the word “relationship” is used alot. It is important to build a relationship, a bond, a form of friendship with your blog readers. Then, NEVER, EVER abuse that relationship.

Put yourself into the position of curator, for example. All this noise is happening out there. But, you have an audience of people hopefully united by a goal of some kind (an important factor in niche selection, BTW). And, you only bring offers to them which are personally vetted by you, known to be good, and you recommend it as a source of help.

Is this easy to do?

Nope.

And those looking for the easy button or quick revenue will still try to default to the interruption marketing and hope to squeeze a few bucks out of it. It can still work. I mean, despite the metrics, companies are still spending a boatload of money on online ads.

But, even the ads work better if you respect your audience. Don’t pack your site with so many ads that it is like being raped in the eye. (NOTE: sorry about that visual, but it is how it feels sometimes.)

There are those who operate by the notion that the more you send out (in terms of promotion), then the more income comes in. While true, in essence, it is also short-sighted. Because, when taken out to a high degree, you begin to abuse your own lines of promotion. Then your prospects begin to find you annoying and all your ads have the reverse impact of what you wanted. That’s the mentality of a spammer. And the effectiveness of this approach has never been lower than it is today.

Some Tips For Everybody

Let’s do this list style, just to make it nice and simple. 🙂

  1. PUBLISHERS: Realize you can make more money utilizing the permission-based approach than with banner ads. For example, a promo email to your list or a blog post can have a far better monetary effect than a banner ad. Think about it… you either eye rape them with a banner ad, or you post a piece of truly helpful content and then gently lead them into an offer which makes perfect sense given the content they just read. Which do you think will perform better?
  2. PUBLISHERS: If you’re trying to work out private ad deals with companies, don’t limit things only to banner ads. Use sponsored blog posts and solo mailings to your list as parts of the ad campaign. Explain to the advertiser the value of these mediums. Charge accordingly. 🙂 (NOTE: NEVER abuse your list, or hand over emails. Respect your subscribers and obey privacy policies).
  3. ADVERTISERS: Realize that a banner ad is more for branding today than click performance. But, in order to get the most bang out of working with a blogger, you need to be willing to explore permission-based marketing. Real content, relevant promotions.
  4. PUBLISHERS: Don’t overload your site with banners. In many cases, you can make more money with less. Just test it and see what works for you.
  5. PUBLISHERS: If you want to make money with affiliate promotions, the easiest way to do it is by putting the banner ad on your site. But, because it is that easy… it is also the least effective. Put more effort into your affiliate promotions. Create real content and fully explain WHY you’re recommending this product to your readers. If you’re trying to drive affiliate sales using banner ads, you’re most likely going to be quite disappointed.
  6. ADVERTISERS: Create “swipe” content for your affiliates or sponsored campaigns. In the online marketing world, this is done all the time. But, outside of that niche, not so much. On my tech site, for example, almost anything I would promote simply has a lame selection of banner ads. These companies don’t think like permission marketers! They don’t make it easy for their campaigns to work. Instead, create REAL content that bloggers can use. Encourage bloggers and site owners to advertise you in permission-based ways and respect the audience.

The wild, wild west of the Internet is disappearing. It used to be easy to make money in this space. Plop a few ads up and – bam! – you had an income.

But, then everybody piled on. The Internet isn’t anything special these days. No gold rush mentality. Sure, there are TONS of ways to run a business online. The opportunities are many, and the costs of entry are incredibly low.

But, the easy buttons don’t exist. The noise level is so high now that only the real cream rises to the top.

The awesome part is… anybody can be the cream. It just takes work and dedication to your readers. Help them. Treat them with respect. And stop trying to eye rape them. 😉

 

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Responses

  1. I don’t know, people not only don’t click on the ads, they see the name of the product being advertised and search for it in google. So unless you are the manufacturer or direct seller, your website commissions are falling every year, because people seem to be getter better and better at searching for information with Google, Bing etc.

  2. I agree. Blogger sometimes overlooked the value of their site, this are the reason that readers looses their interest and it is not good. Thanks for the tips anyways, I’m sure lot of people now know how to improve their blogs without those annoying pop up ads.

  3. Nice tips. I’d agree with you there. Personally I have Adblock Plus installed in Google Chrome (which I use for browsing) so 90% of ads I don’t see and the ones I do see I hardly ever click on coz it takes me somewhere where I’ve visited before or somewhere where 90% of the time I don’t need what’s on the site. So it’s great to have some tips on how to get around people like me!

  4. Totally with you on this one! The advertising model on our travel site is pretty much what you describe in your tips section – advertisers get regular, relevant posts about their business, they do get banners but only on RELEVANT pages to their business, and their information goes out to our email list. 

    We work hard to give our advertisers value for money, and as a result they stay with us. It’s much harder work than just banging a banner onto a page, but much less work than constantly trying to find new advertisers.

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