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How To Strike A Balance Between Ads And User Experience

As a publisher, you likely have pages that generate more revenue than others. Similarly, your data may also show that some pages have higher bounce rates, i.e., a higher percentage of users that leave the landing page within a few seconds of opening it. Some publishers may even think that a high bounce rate, often the result of a poor user experience, is acceptable as long as it continues to generate revenue. However, to really get the most out of your ads, publishers need to achieve a balance between user experience and ads.

In this article, we will share tips on how publishers can balance ads and user experience.

How Publishers Can Balance User Experience And Ads

Many publishers know that it’s critically important to strike a good balance between ads and user experience. However, not many know how to find that sweet spot between earning ad revenue and keeping their users happy. That’s why we’ll explain how to do it. Below, we’re sharing a few of our top tips and experiences here at rev•amp.

Don’t Overuse Ads

If your ads are underperforming, it may be tempting to add more advertisements to increase a page’s revenue generation. However, that’s a foolproof way to anger your visitors and destroy the user experience. According to the IAB and several ad networks, ads shouldn’t take up more than 30% of the total page - not just the part within a user’s view.

It’s more important to focus on the quality of your ads and ad placements than having as many of them as possible. Quality will always trump quantity when it comes to balancing ads and user experience. Consider using tactics such as:

  • Testing different page layouts.
  • Using newer and more effective ad formats.
  • Reviewing the efficacy of your ad placements.

In doing so, you can identify possible problems affecting the performance of your existing ads. Publishers should use their data or work with their monetization partners to optimize their current ads, boosting their revenue as a result.

Use Ad Formats That Don’t Disrupt A Visitor’s Experience

Specific ad formats aren’t only non-disruptive, but they also come with several other benefits. One of the foremost examples of that is native ads. These ads appear naturally next to or within the content on a page and tend to be remarkably effective, with a click-through rate that can be up to 10 times more than most other ads. The statistics show that 53% of users are more likely to look at native ads than standard display ads, and 44% trust them over typical ads.1

Using native ads doesn’t automatically mean that your revenue will skyrocket. They still need to be implemented correctly and optimized regularly. However, there is another way you can improve your current and native ads: contextual targeting.

Contextual advertising uses the content of a page to determine “context.” When a user visits that page, the ads will be relevant to the content, allowing the visitor to see an advertisement for something they’re interested in right now. Not only are these ads less disruptive to the user experience, but they’re also extremely sought after by advertisers due to their high click-through rates.

Other effective ad formats can include:

  • Sticky leaderboards at the bottom of the screen.
  • Correctly executed interstitials, such as rev•amp’s custom interstitial.
  • In-image and in-video ads.
  • In-content (or in-feed) native ads.

There are also several types of ads that publishers should avoid so that they don’t interrupt the user experience. These include:

  • Poorly designed pop-up ads or interstitials without visible close buttons.
  • Video ads that automatically play with sound.
  • Full-screen scroll-over ads.
  • Large sticky banner ads that cover content.

These are just some of the biggest culprits when it comes to ads ruining the user experience. However, just about any ad can be intrusive and disruptive if poorly designed or placed.

Always Label Your Ads

Even though your goal should be to make ads as unobtrusive as possible, it's still vital for users to understand whether they're viewing content from you or looking at an advertisement or sponsored content. If users were to click on a native ad without realizing they're about to be taken to an advertiser's website, it's likely they won't trust your website again.

Instead of trying to hide your ads, always ensure that they're labeled. These labels can use various terms, including:

  • Advertisement.
  • Sponsored Content.
  • Affiliation.

Remember, you want your ads to blend in naturally with your site and content to improve user experience. However, you don't want to deceive and annoy your visitors. Always label your ads, particularly native ads.

Continually Test And Optimize Your Ads

There's no such thing as a perfect ad layout. Users change, as does technology, the advertising ecosystem, ad formats, and targeting tools. It takes time, effort, and a deep understanding of how the system works to really build an effective page layout that includes excellent, highly viewable ads that won't affect the user experience negatively.

It's highly recommended that publishers work with their monetization partners to test, evaluate, and optimize their ads frequently. Doing so will allow you to identify any possible problems, poorly performing ads or pages, or find new opportunities. Regular maintenance is critical. Ideally, publishers should work with an experienced platform or network that understands how to get the best possible results for your site and ads. . 

Conclusion

Annoying your users with ads is a surefire way to miss out on valuable revenue. Publishers need to understand how to maximize the potential of their ads rather than relying on techniques and methods that repel visitors. Achieving a balance between ads and user experience is key to achieving that goal. Our tips can help you get started. However, it's always good to work with a knowledgeable team to help you get the best results by understanding your site, industry, and audience.

1 https://www.outbrain.com/blog/21-native-advertising-statistics-for-2021/

Richard is the Adtech Product Lead at Softonic. As Adtech Product Lead, Richard is responsible for improving overall revenue and ad performance for all our properties, including rev•amp, Softonic’s new publisher monetization platform. Within rev•amp Richard oversees development for the rev•amp monetization stack, both innovations and the improvement of existing technologies.
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