If you’re relatively new in the digital publishing niche, you might not realize how important the aspects of web layouts and design are for the success of the advertisements on your site and improved bottom line. Hosting ad units on your CMS became a big industry, and as a result, digital publishing revenue has increased to nearly 18 billion U.S. dollars in the United States in 2018 alone.
The average revenue per user for digital publishing in the United States is near 79 U.S. dollars per capita and continues to rise upwards pointing out to a healthy future for the industry. With the vast number of successful media publishers that rely heavily on advertising as their main source of income, working with advertisers and modifying your web layout to soothe their needs is definitely a wise decision.
Still, overloading your WordPress publishing site with too much ad space can increase the chances of turning your visitors away, and not to mention the broken relationships with the advertisers that will definitely happen if your CMS is not capable of delivering the defined number of impressions.
To build that balance between the UX and the advertisers’ requests is the formula for digital publishing success, and this is why in this article, we’ll have a look the key elements that form an ad-friendly WordPress layout.
How Does Advertising Work?
Before you spend time and resources on developing and designing a WordPress site for your digital publishing company, you need to understand how the advertising business works. Each advertising campaign has its own goals and demands, but in most of the cases, it’s all about getting the attention of your readership.
The bigger and more targeted the audience is, the higher the demand, and you’ll be able to charge advertisers more for working with you. For example, an advertisement on the sidebar of Washington Post’s homepage will attract more attention than an ad close to the footer of a third-tier industry blog.
Certain ads will be priced on how many people saw them, and others on how many users clicked through. This is why you need to think about how your website will be selling the ad units and design around them. As a publisher, considering the advertisements into your web design decisions is a must, because if you just place ads without any particular reasoning, there will be some serious consequences to your UX and revenue.
Here are the four key elements that form an ad-friendly WordPress layout:
1. Advertisement Size
And advertisement can come in various sizes and cover a different amount of space on your site as a result. There’s not a predefined size for ads even though certain ad sizes do tend to get more impressions than their counterparts. However, there are commonly used dimensions that advertisers can use to place an ad into your WordPress layout:
- 336 x 280 – Rectangle
- 728 x 90 – Leaderboard
- 160 x 600 – Wide Skyscraper
- 320 x 50 – Mobile Banner
The following are examples for each of the ad sizes above:
The main rationale why the ad sizes above are recommended is because of the vast majority of advertisers design ads for those sizes. In other words, you’ll get the most competition on your site, which will result in higher CPC. Picking one of the most common ad sizes can attract even up to 100K advertisers that actively bid for ads of those sizes.
The main question is, which one of the ad sizes above is the right one? The simple answer is that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. When it comes to ad sizes and web layout, there are too many parameters that need to be considered. Because the ad publishers themselves initially decide on the ad size, you should consider using the recommended sizes at the beginning of your web layout planning.
Most importantly, you need to split-test different iterations of the ads so you can gradually improve the click-through and impression rates and bring better results in the future. The UX that ads provide can vary, so this is why you must be extremely aware of their placement.
2. Advert Positioning
The placement of the ad is even more crucial than its size. Companies that want to advertise wouldn’t want the ad to be hidden somewhere around the bottom of the page, and this is why you must pick an ad position that requires a little effort from the users to see it.
Furthermore, most of the readers will come to your site for the content, and this is why it’s better to position your ads close to or inside the content to enhance the interaction with the ads and increase the worth for the advertisers.
For that reason, you need to pay attention to how you integrate the ads within the content, in order to have ad units that are distinctive and don’t annoy the users at the same time.
Think about how Google themselves display ads while the entire search experience seems uninterrupted at all. That’s the result that you should aim for with your content/ads structure.
The positioning can also be influenced by some of the accepted layouts, according to the F-pattern or the Z-pattern of content reading. These patterns can help you integrate ad spaces where the most appropriate areas for visibility are.
Your design might be qualified to host multiple advertisements into a single area of the page, or you can have larger space for a skyscraper or landscape ad, so finding the right balance is key and again, it’s also something that needs to be considered according to your project and the goals that you want to achieve.
If you use AdSense for your advertisements, when you develop space for the ads, make sure that you’ll stay compliant with Google AdSense’s strict placement guidelines as well to avoid trouble when working with advertisers.
3. Number of Ads
The more ad space and more ads, the bigger the revenue right? Wrong!
Filling out the design of your pages with as many ads as possible will only have the opposite effect with the users and your advertising partners. People consider too many ads annoying and they’d rather leave the site than continue to read the content.
If you want to keep the users longer on your site, you must keep the ads to a minimum. For example, on your homepage, you definitely need to host as few ad units as possible in order to provide the readers with the possibility to find and choose what they want to read.
When users finally feel comfortable with your pages and get the content that they enjoy to read, you can start showing them more advertisements.
If a user lands on one of your articles from a Facebook advertisement on his/her desktop computer may have a totally different ad tolerance than a user that sees the ad on his/her smartphone and landed on your article after a Google search.
A good approach to determine the number of ads to show to your users is to have a look at your best-performing articles/pages and see how the page views, visits, and bounce rate changes for each of the pages. Additionally, according to the ad impression statistics for each of the articles, you’ll know how the users are affected by page basis.
We are living in a mobile world. Visitors want and expect a responsive browsing experience. Images and content blocks need to dynamically reposition themselves on the page, according to the screen that they’re viewed on.
In addition to having a well-optimized mobile version of your WordPress publishing site, it’s important to provide a good user experience when users see the ad on mobile devices as well. By being focused on your mobile layout, content, and ad unit placements, you’ll deliver a high-quality UX with content and advertisements that are relevant.
Every aspect of the mobile version of your site should be responsive on a smartphone, including native advertisements. People don’t want to open an article and have their reading experience interrupted because of the badly placed banned ad.
As you site adjusts to the mobile device, the layout and the form of the native ad placements should embrace the screen modification. Everything should be perfect, from the moment the site is loaded to the further scrolling down the page.
As the users read the article, if they enjoy it, they’ll want to access your related content as well. For this reason, you should also ensure that you’ll place native ads and recommendations directly below the article so you won’t disrupt the browsing experience.
This allows the users to find the content that they love without being irritated with intrusive ads. Include content recommendations that are matched with the interests of the readers.
Make sure that you also track the users’ behavior on your mobile pages that include native placements, and optimize accordingly. Even the slightest alterations of ad location, web layout, and content styling can produce massive growth in terms of traffic and revenue for your media publishing business.
Developing a powerful and ad-friendly WordPress layout is all about making a balance between hosting ad units on your page and being recognized by the users as a digital media source that they enjoy to visit over and over again.
By analyzing your current design both for desktop and mobile, you can make better decisions when it comes to size, positioning, and responsiveness. It’s an ongoing process and improvement of both the user experience and the bottom line of your digital publishing company.