Advertising placements are exit points

by Martin Reed on 9 June 2007 in Snippets

I have talked about the pros and cons of advertising in many articles on this blog, but today I want to write briefly about an additional consequence of placing advertising on your site – encouraging visitors to leave!

Visitor retention is the key to a successful website

If your website is not attracting and retaining its visitors, you will struggle to make your site a success.

You may get 1,000 visitors per day, but if these users are never coming back you will not succeed. Visitor retention is what makes a site successful.

Advertising as a false economy

Advertising is present on almost every site these days. If it only makes you a little spare change each month, I would argue that it is not worth carrying ads at the current time.

I know that opinion is split on this – some say you should monetise from the outset so that visitors become accustomed to seeing ads on your site, whilst others (including myself) feel that ads on a new or low traffic site are not worth the revenue they generate as they can be distracting from your site’s content, and drive away visitors.

It is unlikely that visitors will leave your site just because you carry advertising (unless it is truly overwhelming and distracting) however, you should consider the fact that every ad on your site is a potential exit point.

How advertising can cost you visitors

As I have already mentioned, visitor retention is the key to a successful website. If your site contains a number of ads (or ‘exit-points’) you are making it easier for visitors to leave your site, never to return again.

You want to be minimising the number of exit points on your site when you are getting started – are those few coins you are earning each month worth it when you consider just how much easier you are making it for your visitors to leave?

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Marti June 9, 2007 at 9:34 pm

I fully agree, advertising usually decrease the user experience and should be treated accordingly. I however still use ads even with very low traffic as it provides an indirect way to get traffic stats (I just don’t try to optimize ad placement and put one per page)

Chicago 2016 June 9, 2007 at 11:19 pm

Can ads be coded so that they open in new, smaller browser windows? If this is possible, I think the risk of having visitors leave is lessened, at least.

And Martin – I changed the rules for my contest!

Smiley June 10, 2007 at 1:04 am

Hmmm, true. Never thought of it like that. I put ads on so users would be used to them from the start.

They only make approximately $10 USD per day. But, I’m split as to whether keep the ads, or get rid.

$10 a day doesn’t sound much, but that’s $70 a week, that’s about 35………… that’s the month’s web hosting AND Chat Forum monthly fee paid for in one week.

That’s just over 100 for the other 3 weeks.. that’s a couple of week’s of Google Adsense paid for!

I’ll have to think hard about this one.

Martin Reed June 10, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Marti – Have you considered using Google Analytics? It is completely free and the amount of detail it provides about your traffic is absolutely astounding.

It would be far more accurate for you to understand and gauge your traffic using Google Analytics rather than counting ad impressions.

Daniel – There are ways of opening sites in new windows, and resizing those windows. Some ad networks though, like Google AdSense do not permit you to make any such changes to the code.

I would also argue that altering browser window sizes is against the principles of Web usability. Similarly as an advertiser I wouldn’t be happy with a site making my website appear in a tiny browser window!

Smiley – It’s always a tough decision having to work out whether those ads are worth keeping. If you need the revenue, then keep them. If you can live without the revenue, then lose them.

Smiley June 10, 2007 at 6:43 pm

I could do with the chat forum being paid for to be honest, summer coming up and all that. I need my beer money – LOL.

I’ve limited the ads I have on. I just have one link-ad at the bottom of the chat software.

Smiley June 10, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Oh, the HTML didn’t work.

The screenshot URL instead.

Martin Reed June 10, 2007 at 10:32 pm

I like that link unit – it is well placed without being distracting. Ah, how could I forget about the all important beer money, eh?!?

Smiley June 10, 2007 at 10:41 pm

Yes, just a simple link ad. It’s only made $5 today, but that’s still 15 a week, that’s still the chat software paid for.

Plus, I’m taking the lead in directing my site towards a non-perv status and encouraging users not to join all the other sites, in what I call ‘the ASL brigade’.

Females don’t want to be bombed with ASL ASL ASL ASL ASL.. but.. users won’t stop doing that if you don’t take the lead.

If users want that kind of chat, the basic, “asl sexy u got msn babe” rubbish, they can just click on one of the links.

The ones who want a normal, friendly chat.. stay. They get best of both worlds then, huh?

El Yanqui June 12, 2007 at 11:37 am

I don’t advertise on my site, because I’m not really interested in it right now. Later, down the road, if I find I can make a truckload of money off of it, I might do so.

But if anyone is using advertising and just getting pocket change, they need to review either their advertising policy or their content. Most likely both need to be reviewed.

Too many blogs have too many ads, and I just skip away from them unless there is a real compelling reason not to.

Smiley June 12, 2007 at 1:00 pm

True, Yanqui. But, this is the way I see it. I only want a specific, targetted type of chatter.

People who are part of the ‘ASL brigade’ will -not- last long in my site as it will either bore them, or my chatters will get annoyed at them for being pervs…. so they are going to leave my site.

If there are ads there, they’re more likely to click on one of the ads that appeal to them “free hot singles chat site” etc.

If they’re going to leave your site anyway, why not make money from it and have your hosting bills paid for?

I think it all depends on the situation whether you have ads or not.

Teach me June 12, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Hi Martin,
Nice article to point out the exits and how to minimize them, yes it is paradox which every blogger or site owner has to overcome. In my opinion it should be based on life cycle of the site and the goal of the site.

I am taking the approach of quality content first and then some monetization.

M2N (Employee to Entrepreneur)

Martin Reed June 12, 2007 at 3:36 pm

El Yanqui – Thanks for your comment. I couldn’t agree more. If those ads are just earning pocket change, then get rid of them!

Ads don’t particularly bother me, but some people do go overboard and place too many which is distracting to the site’s content. That’s A BIG mistake.

Smiley – I understand what you are saying, but the fact is you are also displaying those ads to people who may be the exact type of visitor you want on your site!

If only there were a way to target only the ‘low quality’ visitors and show them ads, eh?!

Vijay – Yes! Quality content first, everything else second (or even third)!

Smiley June 12, 2007 at 3:52 pm

If only, indeed. Can’t win ‘em all!

rhodilee August 4, 2007 at 11:50 am

Too much ads can really shoo away visitors. I hate sites bombarded with excessive graphical and banner ads. I do not even like to exchange link with blogs that have excessive ads. The sites no longer look like blogs at all. They look like an online billboard.

Smiley August 5, 2007 at 5:08 am

I agree, Rhodilee. I tend to stick with text ads, and like to blend them in.

Martin Reed - Blog Author August 8, 2007 at 1:24 pm

Rhodilee – I couldn’t agree more; there is a limit to the number of ads the human brain can accept on one page!

Frank Locust December 2, 2009 at 7:05 pm

I may be a little late to the game on this one, but I’d like to offer my 2 cents……

Since this post was written, we’ve seen tons of new blogs enter the blogosphere, some good, many bad. Even the text ads seem to have lost their effectiveness. And the ability to blend Google Ads into your content is getting increasingly more difficult due to an increasingly Ad-savy eye by the reader. Any updates to this post?