Ever since I started with internet marketing in 2005 I’ve heard people saying that by blending your Adsense ads you increase your CTR (click through rating).
Here’s what blended Adsense ads look link on Mashable:
Down in the bottom right, there’s an Adsense block and it’s in the same lighter shade of blue that Mashable uses throughout their site. It blends with the overall site design.
And above, we have an example of Adsense that isn’t blended with the site. It stands out because it’s in a different color than the overall design.
Image ads are another type of ad that doesn’t “blend” in that they are their own design and graphic, so they most likely wont match or blend into your site.
Back when I started in 2005, I was smart enough to test and see if blending ads did in fact increase my CTR – and it did.
But I wondered if that had changed? It’s been 7 years since then, after all!
The Blended Adsense Test
On December 13, I changed the colors of the Adsense ads on one of my sites – a very consistent site that isn’t seasonal – to blend and match the WordPress theme (WP-Ellie by Solostream):
I’m using the ad block at the upper right as well as a sidebar ad – but unlike the picture above, my sidebar block is at the top of the sidebar (to keep it as far above the fold as possible).
I also have a small Adsense unit above the individual posts (but below the post title) on the individual post pages.
So everything remained the same on the sites except that the colors were changed to blend and I set Google to only use text ads on the site.
The Blended Adsense Test Results
I let the test run for about 3 weeks, and have the results for your today.
While Adsense won’t allow me to give exact figures, I can tell you that my CTR was cut in HALF with the blended ads.
Yes, 1/2 the amount of people clicked the Adsense blocks when they actually looked nice and matched the site!
I’ve switched the ads back to the “Google Default” colors (they totally don’t match the site). I’ve left the settings to only display text ads to get a baseline number for my next test – does allowing images increase or decrease CTR?
What does this mean for you?
If nothing else, I hope it means that you’ll question what you’re taught (even by me!!). Not because anyone is out there lying to you on purpose though!
No, you’ve got to test this stuff yourself because your results could vary. What’s right for my niche (non-blended ads) could fall flat in your niche and lead to a massive bounce rate. Or just lead to lower CTR’s for you.
Time also changes things. The advice that might have been correct 7 years ago might just be outdated now.
It could be theme dependent – what works well with one theme won’t necessarily work an another.
Test everything – this is a test I’ll be running in other niches to see if it holds true for those sites as well.
Any other tests you’d like me to run? Let me know in the comments!