Advertisements on websites are something of a hot topic. Users don’t like them, but websites need them to stay in existence. Is there a happy medium that allows ads to be placed on a site that doesn’t detract from the user experience but still enable the website to stay in business? I’d like to think so. There are many types of ads that you can place as well as many ways to place them, so let’s dive into things.
Advertisements on static websites are typically done the same way that you would for a dynamic website. You block out the location on the page where the ad will be shown, then insert the code to display the ad, and you’ll be good to go. However, there is much more to placing ads on a page than that, and it’s essential to provide a good user experience for your users. Inundating your users with obtrusive advertisements is likely to drive them away, which will hurt your site’s performance.
Types of Ads
Unless you’ve dealt with ads before, you likely haven’t thought much about the different types of ads, which are most effective, and which ones are likely to annoy your users so much they’ll avoid your site at all costs. There are best practices when you’re placing ads on your site, and doing so the right way will help you retain your users.
There are different categories of advertisements, archetypes if you will, that any type of placed ad will fall into either text, image, and video.
The Advertisement Archetypes
Text - Textual advertisements can come in two forms, text that is placed in the way of an image, or strictly text links that will take the user to another page - such as affiliate links. These types of ads are usually the least intrusive to your users, but they also aren’t often the most effective for advertisers. Nevertheless, your use of them could help provide your website with some income without sending your users away traumatized.
Image - Image-based advertisements have a large amount of graphics that appear with the ad. There can be text, but this type relies more on the image to attract the attention of users. This type of ad can help draw users attention, but depending on the focus of the user - more on that later - this might disrupt your users more than you want.
Video - Video advertisements - especially those with sound that autoplay - are the most intrusive type of ads. However, because of our proclivity to notice things that move, they are also some of the most effective ads. This type should be used sparingly, and you need to be careful to make sure that the video is relevant for the user.
The tough thing about ads is that advertisers want the ad to be noticed because they need to attract your users to their product, but you don’t want them to interfere with your users’ experience on your website. I’ve mentioned this before, but you need to be aware of how ads can be placed and how they can impact your users.
Obtrusive vs. Unobtrusive Ads
Obtrusive ads are easily identifiable when you visit a page. These are the ones that autoplay video with audio, pop up in your face, slide over the content or generally disrupt your user from experiencing your content. Ads that use this type of interaction rely on capturing your user’s attention through sheer force. The problem with this type of ad is that they generally annoy your users, which can drive them away from your site.
Unobtrusive ads are integrated seamlessly into your site. Preferably, they match the theme of your site and are able to be shown in a way that makes them seem like they’re part of your content. These ads act subtly and coax your users into giving them attention.
The Right Way to Place Ads
The right way to place ads is to integrate them into your site and make it seems like one cohesive product. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for placing ads that can be used for any website, and you need to be aware of how your user is using your site to determine the best ad strategy.
Your User’s Focus
You should be aware of how your website interacts with your user. How focused are your users when they are consuming your content? If you have highly engaging textual content on your site, then your users will likely be highly focused. If you’re running an eCommerce website, then your users will probably be browsing your site, scanning images or descriptions to find which product to buy. How you advertise on your site should take into account how focused your users are, or you’ll disrupt your users instead of coaxing them.
Highly focused content - When you’re content is highly engaging, and your users are highly focused, you need to rely on subtle ads, so you don’t disrupt the user. If you run a website that posts novels, you may want to look at textual advertisements that you can insert in between sections or chapters that won’t draw your users out of the story.
Lightly focused content - If your website has users that are lightly focused - think Pinterest or Amazon - where users are quickly browsing through items, then you can implement ads that attract more attention. A grid of products can seamlessly place an image or video ad into the mix without disrupting the user from their purpose.
How Ads Affect SEO
Nearly everything that you do on your website can affect SEO and how likely your site is to be ranked highly by search engines, and ads are no exception. Google is frequently updating its algorithms to ensure it is ranking websites higher that are more helpful to users. When you have too many ads above the fold - that is showing when the page loads - Google will penalize your entire site. Sites that are the most helpful in fulfilling a user’s goal will receive the highest rank.
Another thing to consider is that Google categorizes affiliate links as advertisements. If your content is littered with affiliate links along with traditional ads, your site’s rank will likely suffer. I don’t believe there is a hard and fast rule on how many ads you can safely place on your site, but as long as your site isn’t chock full of them, you should be fine.
Placing Ads on Your Static Website
When you place ads on your site, try to be as helpful as possible. You often can’t control the ads that are placed, and many ad agencies have strict guidelines on how ads have to be displayed, but there are some things to take into account so that you don’t impact the usability of your site.
Try to integrate ads as seamlessly as possible on your site. Try to avoid using obtrusive ads, and if your user is engaging with highly focused content, try not to disrupt them.
Ensure that ads fit in with your site’s design. Don’t use small blocks for advertisements in the middle of your main content if it creates too much white space around the ad.
Because we read from left to right and top to bottom, ads place towards the top-left of your site will likely get more attention. If possible, put ad blocks in this area to get the most engagement. The better your users engage with ads on your site, the more likely it is that you can get a better deal from your ad agency.
Although Google will penalize you for having too many ads above the fold, an advertisement placed in this area will help get more time on the screen, which will likely help you make more money from the ad. Just make sure that users don’t have to scroll past the ad to see the content they’re looking for, which is especially important for mobile users.
Ads are something that can be helpful to advertisers, website owners and users when done right. If you make sure that ads placed on your site are placed well, unobtrusive, and beneficial to your users, then you’ll be able to use ads without degrading the user experience. Although you may not have a lot of say in which ads are placed on your site, try to make sure that the space you block out allows the ad to be integrated into your site’s design.
What is obtrusive advertising? - Obtrusive advertising is advertisements that jarringly disrupt your users' attention from the content on your site. These types of ads are the ones that usually send users running for the hills.
What type of advertisement is best? - This question is highly subjective as it depends on how users interact with your content, how engaging your content is, and how vital your user’s experience is to the survival of your site. Image and video ads are usually the most effective, but they may also damage your user’s experience enough that they won’t return to your site.
Thank you for reading my content! I hope you found this article helpful and you have some insight into how you want to place advertising on your static site.
Do you have any experience with placing ads on your sites that contradicts my advice? Do you think that ads should be banished from all websites? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!