Beware of ad burnout

by Martin Reed on 16 June 2007 in Snippets

Many of us rely on advertising to pay the bills and financially reward ourselves for the hard work we invest in our sites.

I have written a few articles about advertising techniques in this blog, but today I want to write about a phenomenon known as ‘ad burnout’.

What is ad burnout?

Ad burnout happens when your visitors are over-exposed to a specific advertisement. When they are over-exposed to a certain graphical banner or text advertisement, their brains will soon completely disregard that ad to the point where the user no longer notices its presence.

This will result in significantly less clicks and conversions as your regular visitors will no longer see the ads; you will be relying solely on your new visitors to earn you revenue. This is always a bad strategy as new visitors are the ones you want to retain rather than send away, never to be seen again!

How to combat ad burnout

It is pretty easy to combat ad burnout – simply ensure you rotate your ads regularly. Do not rely on one type of ad copy or graphical element. Indeed, you should even mix up your choice of advertisers.

Using different advertisers will help generate additional income – some of your visitors may have already visited certain advertisers so will not click those ads again.

By keeping your advertising content fresh and varied, you will help ensure that your advertising is actually seen by all your site’s visitors.

Your experiences

Have you experienced ‘ad burnout’ on your site? What did you do to combat it? Share your experiences by leaving a comment below.

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Jake June 16, 2007 at 8:23 pm

I read that most viewers are used to avoiding anything that looks like an add on any site. I used to be this way, but now I use Adblock. I honestly don’t feel bad about using it, since if I ever clicked on a site ad, it would usually because my finger slipped or the like.

Lars-Christian June 17, 2007 at 12:29 am

As a European, I am one of those who are typically “suffering” from Ad Burnout. More often than not, especially when it comes to contextual ads, I will see the same ad hundreds, if not thousands of times across many different site, and eventually I’ll completely ignore it.

So geotargeting is most definately something that should be considered when trying to get the most out of your ads. Even though you might be with a network that sells a lot of ads, they might be serving the same ones over and over again to some people from various parts of the world. And naturally, if you truly want to take advantage of your site’s revenue potential, you should try and sell your non-US traffic as well, not just let it default.

Martin Reed June 18, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Jake – I don’t have a problem with people installing ad-blockers as these are the people least likely to actually click on the ads in the first place.

The problem I have is if people start downloading them ‘en masse’ or if they come installed as standard in certain browsers – this could have huge consequences for the way content is currently served.

Lars-Christian – Thanks for your comment; you make some really good points. I agree that it is important to sell your traffic to all audiences – there is no point running ads specific to a single country if your audience is global.

You also make an interesting point that visitors may already be suffering from ad burnout before they even get to your site if you are running the same campaigns as everyone else. Aim for some originality and keep ads relevant in order to maximise your revenue.

Jay July 24, 2007 at 2:40 pm

If you are able to code, I recommend coming up with a rotation scheme in which sometimes there is no ad at all shown, or have the location of the ad be randomized. Click through rates will be higher (which is good for Google ads) and users will be happier as well.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 25, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Jay – Moving advertising around the site could work in delaying ad burnout, but it could be distracting and annoying for visitors to return to a site with a layout that changes so frequently.

I think that as long as you keep the ad creatives and copy fresh and updated, you should prevent or reduce ad burnout without having to play around with your design and risk upsetting your visitors.

Jay July 25, 2007 at 2:43 pm

I see what you mean…I wasn’t advising any drastic changes to the layout, just that sometimes a skyscraper would appear to the right and sometimes the area might be empty. But your point is well taken.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 25, 2007 at 3:37 pm

Jay – A good script for rotating ads to keep them fresh (and even serve up blank areas should you wish) is Openads.

I wouldn’t recommend incorporating blank ads in your site though – just ensure you keep the ad content fresh and you should be fine when it comes to ad burnout.

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