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I can't get rich online and neither can you. Topics include why you won't get rich with your blog, ideas you wish you had thought of, and other Internet phenomena.

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How Much Space to Dedicate to Ads?

Today’s post on John Chow dot com has got me thinking: How much space can one reasonably dedicate to advertising before it becomes too much? After all, usable ad space does have an upper limit. After you pass that limit, your risk alienating your readers, and even your advertisers. I had thought that Chow had pretty much maxed out his available ad space, what with the ads in his header, footer, sidebar, top status-bar thingee, RSS feed, and most recent post, but I was wrong. The clever bastard found a way to stick ads behind the page with a peel-away ad. I actually like the concept of the peel-away ad (except that you have to pay for the plugin to use it). It’s non-intrusive, eye catching, and a lot more clever than pop ups and rapidly-vibrating banner ads. Still, I think Chow is hitting the ceiling in terms of page real estate. There’s really nowhere else he can put advertising without it becoming intrusive and counter-productive. This has led me to wonder - where do you draw the line?

There’s no one answer

It all depends on your theme. Chow has a theme that is ridiculously optimized for ads, and he’s milking it for all that it’s worth. My theme, on the other hand, is not suited for tons of ads. If I ever start charging for those ads to the right, I’ll probably double the number of spots, giving me six monthly ad spots. If I charged $25/spot/month, I would be making $150 per month. Not bad, assuming that I could fill all of them. Other than that, there’s really no place else I can put ads. My post area is too narrow to comfortably fit a square ad, and adding any horizontal banner ads would ruin the flow of the page, making them look awkward. The peel-away ad would probably work well on this site, as it only requires a tiny amount of space in the upper right corner, but other than that, I’m stuck. Oh well, it’s not a big deal. As I’ve always said, I’m not going to start selling ad space until I hit 1,000 readers per day.

Themes and ad types

If you want to put ads in your posts, go for a single-column theme. My theme has two columns, which greatly increases the amount of information I can stick in my sidebar, at the cost of compressing my post area. It also has the bonus of making my entries look longer. Ha.

On the other hand, my two-column theme allows me more space for 125×125 ads, although those are usually cheaper than in-post ads. Plus, you can setup your bigger ads to rotate through multiple ads, while most blogs tend to keep their 125×125s static. On the other, other hand, I obviously put more value on my content than advertising. It’s all a balancing act, one that requires a lot of precision. Chow appears to have mastered the art of dumping a ton of ads in front of his readers, all while not alienating them. It’s a difficult skill to master with that many ad spots.

The bottom line

Know your readers, and be careful about the message you’re sending to them. When I see a blog that’s a little too Adsense-happy, I usually click away. Likewise, if I find a site with ten available ad spots and only two filled, I usually question the motives of the site. Pick a theme that emphasizes content, while allowing you room to grow. That way, if you do make it big, you’ll have some room to profit off of your success.

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10 Responses to “How Much Space to Dedicate to Ads?”

  1. Ty Brown Says:

    Chow’s whole theme is how to make money online. If he wasn’t using every available means to make money he wouldn’t be practicing what he preaches. If he finds that he loses income/readership/advertisers because of it I’m sure he will report on that. If he doesn’t then he is showing how to push the limits of what is acceptable with advertising.

  2. Rhys Says:

    He knows his readers. They are largely gormless idiots who would sign up to an affiliate scheme that sells frozen turds to eskimos.

  3. C-Squared Says:

    I’ve seen at least four posts on those peel-away ads today. After the initial firestorm of buyers, people are going to become just as banner-blind to them as regular ads, and the guys who made it in the first place are going to be the ones who get all the money.

    I give it two weeks, maybe a month at most.

  4. C-Squared Says:

    Oh yeah, I thought you might like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBGIQ7ZuuiU

  5. Geoff Says:

    @C-Squared
    Dammit, it’s bad enough that I have to dodge those from my roommate and coworkers all the time, but now my readers too?

  6. C-Squared Says:

    hahaha. I totally got you. :)

  7. Eli Says:

    I have to reply praising Rhys’ frozen turds comment. Brilliant.

    I dunno man, John Chow’s has to be the ugliest blog I’ve ever seen now, but he’s making a packet of money now, and that’s why he has so many readers.

  8. C-Squared Says:

    Hey Geoff,

    I’m holding a Rick Roll contest. Interested?

    http://anunsuspectingnotebook.blogspot.com/2008/02/unsuspecting-rickroll-5000-ec-contest.html

    :D

  9. Jason Says:

    What a load of shit. I like Peel Away Ads, but to see Chow flogging yet another product promising good things to his readers (and talking about how he’s made five signups since - how the hell does he know that was from the ad? - makes me sick.

    I bought a copy of an older version of Peel Away with full resale rights. If you, or anyone else on here wants a copy for that matter, ping me and I’ll send you a free copy.

  10. timon Says:

    yeah i agree chow over advertisers…dang this post is advertising john chow…dang all this free advertising for him..

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