Your goal should be engagement and content discovery – advertising doesn’t really do that. When a visitor clicks an ad, it’s a wave goodbye. Is the revenue you receive in return worth it?
For some of us, it is. If you need to serve ads to keep your online community afloat, at least avoid placing ads on your homepage. The purpose of your homepage is to lure visitors in. You want them to see just how great your community is. You want to highlight your best content and make joining and getting involved in the community irresistible.
If you really can’t avoid advertising on the homepage, make sure it’s only your members who are exposed to the ads. Most online communities do this the wrong way around – they serve ads to visitors and make the removal of advertising a membership benefit. That’s a mistake. Show ads to your members – if they click and disappear, they’re more likely to come back. Visitors with no vested interest in your community probably won’t.