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Choosing the right ad space and the right amount of the right content can mean the difference between making good money and making no money.

The rule of thumb when you first start advertising is to set your expectations low: online monetization, whether it is through display advertising, affiliate marketing, or another method, is often one big optimization problem. In other words, your goal as a publisher is to maximize revenue by striking the right balance between too much and too little.

Here are three things you should be optimizing when you are monetizing your website’s ad space:

1. Choosing the Right Real Estate

When you advertise on your website, you want to take two main factors into consideration: how much and where.

  • How Big – How big a space you use will depend, of course, on the end user’s screen size. You should choose a responsive or adaptive website design that adjusts the advertising space as well.

Though accounting for and including the right ads for different screen sizes can mean a little extra leg work, bear in mind that over a third of all traffic now comes from mobile devices. Interstial ads – full-screen ads that appear upon site entry or between screens – can be a good choice, as long as your site content is compelling enough to keep users around.

  • Where – The smaller the screen size, the less you have to worry about this. With desktop platforms, your focus should be on finding the areas of the screen that don’t interfere with website usability, yet still get noticed by the reader.

For instance, most readers actually ignore content on the right side of the screen. Ads that appear in the header can appear too obnoxious, while ads that appear in the footer can go unnoticed.

Since more engaged users are likely to stay engaged and convert better, consider placing ads at intervals throughout the content, or at the end of blog articles.

2. Knowing Which Content is Best

Choosing the right content and the right format is another conversion driver. When you choose your advertising content, pick content that is relevant and valuable.

  • The Right Content – The right content is content that meets the needs of your target audience. Automatically optimized content that comes from large networks such as Google may optimize for the content itself, rather than for your audience. For instance, website owners providing ads to IT or software industries should choose ads immediately relevant to their industry. Industry-leading software advertising networks such as CodeFuel’s DisplayFuel optimize ad space and conversion rates by offering publishers high-quality ad content that specifically targets the software industry.
  • The Right Format – Display advertising seemed like a bad route to take when people became desensitized to pop-ups and banner ads. However, these trends actually represent the misuse and even abuse of display advertising. Eye tracking studies show that the right images still draw people’s eyes. The same studies performed on Google results, for instance, show that users are now becoming blind to sponsored search results. It is no wonder that Google has moved into the display advertising business, which is already becoming another lucrative income stream for the giant.

3. How Much is Too Much?

The rule of thumb when split-testing and optimizing is only to change what you can measure. This means changing one element or group of elements at a time. You’ll need enough traffic to provide statistically significant results in your revenue yield.

To strike the right balance between traffic and conversion, gradually increase the ad space on your site until you have hit the tipping point where the increase in bounce rate or overall traffic decrease begins reducing revenue.

When testing, monitor:

  • Click-Through Rate – This, of course, only applies to you if you’re earning revenue from CPC. If you’re calculating with CPM, then you’ll want to monitor the revenue generated. Affiliate ads will be measuring the conversion rates for their offers.
  • On-Page Time and Bounce Rate – Too many ads will interfere with the user experience and increase the bounce rate. And too many website owners don’t push the envelope to see how many ads their visitors can deal with. This, unfortunately, means that many website owners are also not making as much money as they could.

Unless you have access to eye tracking equipment and sophisticated analytics tools, knowing the exact effect of your advertising on users will be a challenge. These two metrics, in combination with careful split-testing, can help you find the maximum yield for your ad space.

Ad space optimization is all about striking the right balance. By picking the right areas of your screen, you’ll be able to ensure maximum engagement without compromising the user’s experience. Offering the right amount of the right ad content will ensure that you generate the maximum returns on your advertising campaigns.