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What Forms of Online Advertising are Acceptable Today?
As I traverse the Web checking out new sites and those familiar to me, I’ve started to wonder what forms of advertising are acceptable today. I am curious about your thoughts as well. For purposes of this discussion, we will look at advertising for typical content Web sites and blogs — not porn, warez or any other potentially objectionable content. Let’s take a look at each of the most common forms of ads running today.
Traditional banner ads
These are the most standard form of online advertising and include a variety of IAB formats (e.g. leaderboard, skyscraper, 468 standard, etc.). I think everyone would say these ads are typically fine and acceptable. I turn off ads that are overly animated, have iPhone scams, participation giveaways and the idiot dancing people. I would lump most affiliate programs into this category.
This has become popular with the increase in professional bloggers. It seems the initial size was 125 pixel square, but now more sites are starting to provide alternative formats. We currently run the 125 size, check out GigaOm and SAI for a few alternative sizes. These ads are typically considered fine and acceptable. In fact, these are probably the best paying ads and also allow several select sponsors to display a strong relationship with a blog or Web site.
Google AdSense and other text ad networks
Again, these are typically considered fine and acceptable. These ads are normally contextual in nature and should provide greater return than the traditional banner ads above.
Popups and popunders
With popup blockers on nearly every computer today, these forms of online advertising have basically dried up. Most users hated them from the beginning.
These ads are newer and typically come packaged with a preview of the link that is moused over. TechCrunch and Mashable currently run this form of advertising. SnapShots combine a site preview plus contextual or image advertising where the publisher gets paid a CPC when a user clicks the ads and not the link.
It’s an interesting play… on the one hand, the idea of providing a preview of the site before you head there is a good thing. On the flip side, if you are intending to go to x site, see an ad for y site and go to y instead, the publisher makes a few cents but the intended linkee gets nothing. The SnapShots team have emailed me over and over to have CN use SnapShots. I haven’t made a decision yet but am leaning towards no.
Kontera and VibrantMedia inline text ads
Many blog publishers think these ads are the devil. These ads show up as links within content and are always distinguishable by link color and/or double underline. What I like about these ads is that the ad provider determines which words become links, not the writer. This alleviates the concept of writing content just to get a good round of inline text links (I know some still try though). When these ads first hit the market, they paid very well – partially due to users possibly being confused. I’ve watched the overall income drop on these ads month over month but they can still perform well in certain circumstances. I run these ads (only 3 per story) on HTMLCenter currently but not on CenterNetworks.
These ads appear typically before or between pages on a Web site. When these ads appear, you are forced into clicking the ad or clicking a close button. I haven’t seen many blogs running this format yet but it seems many of the large content Web sites run these ads without a second thought. CNET and the NY Times are always hitting me with these interstitial ads. Why is it acceptable for CNET to run an interstitial and reap the nice CPMs, but not a blog? This is probably the most interesting format to look at the differences between how a user reacts to advertising on a Web 1.0-style property versus a Web 2.0-style blog.
What formats did I miss? What formats do you run on your blog or Web site? What formats would you like to see in the future? I am hoping we see better monetization of RSS and mobile.