How many ads should we have on a page?

Online publishers always have a question – how many ads do I need to have on a page. If a publisher is not thinking about it, be assured he/she is not a quality conscious publisher.

MediaPost has published a nice article about this topic – Do Garage Sales Lose More Money Than They Make? Few good points are,

The issue is (still) that of clutter. So many online publishers are stuck in it because they have built their revenue goals around multiple ad units running multiple advertisers all on one page view. We tend to forget (or ignore) that a page view is seen by only one set of eyes and ears, so three different voices (or more) speaking at the same time results in no one being heard clearly.

The opposing approach is to roadblock your page views so one single advertiser occupies your multiple ad units at the same time (also called “companion serving”). This presents a much cleaner look and feel to your “lawn” and visually increases the value of your real estate in the eyes of the user; the advertisers, who care more about your brand then about click-through

Despite the emphasis on the performance of an ad campaign online, it is critical that online publishers increase the value of the ad exposure before a single click-through occurs. Selling each page view (or in this case home page) to one single advertiser accomplishes this goal.

Selling multiple ad units to multiple advertisers on a single page view has the look and feel of a garage sale. Selling one single advertiser multiple ad units on a single page view has the look of a well-manicured lawn. Which approach produces greater value lies in the eyes of the beholder — and garage sales tend to be an eyesore.

For quality concious portals it is a difficult choice. The publisher always wants to have a clean and crisp look but at the same time he needs to bring food on the table. Lesser number of ads means cleaner look but then it “could” but not “necessarily” mean lesser revenues.

As the stickiness of your portal increases you can demand more money from the advertiser and also decrease the number of ads on each page. I have seen few portals in India (one of them is for the media world – I will not name it) who charge a lot for each banner and clutter the entire page with ads. It reminds of viewing a movie on SONY channel – we get to see the movie “in between” the ads 🙁

We at continuously try to improve the look (and earn more!). has few ads on each page, rather I should say the ads are nicely placed on each page and I think they look cool. We are in the process of extending that look to our language portals. Actually we have already moved few of our sections to the new look, the rest is yet to be done. Basically it is work in progress and I have to caution it is “slippery when wet”.

Note: Currently we Bangaloreans are marooned with 10 hours of heavy rain fall. The rainfall has washed away all the promises our politicians and mayor had made during election time (cleaner roads, good roads, good drainage) . But I must say we citizens are to be blamed for the clogged drains. Thanks to plastic.

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