4 Tips For Creating An Effective Sidebar Ad
As many of you know, I’m about to launch the ABDPBT Featured Bloggers Program to help bloggers who want to grow their readership obtain very cheap advertising in a space that is likely to be frequented by people who would be interested in their blogs. The specs of the advertising placement are one sidebar graphic with the dimensions 225 pixels wide by 150 pixels tall, along with no more than 20 words as a description for why we should read their blog, and no flash or animated gifs are allowed. The graphic is going to be the most effective part of the ad, so I thought I’d give some pointers here on how to craft a sidebar graphic ad that is likely to capture the attention of potential readers, both
- Make it eye-catching. Think about where your ad is going to appear: what colors are already working there? What kind of color scheme is likely to provide a good contrast to the environment without causing an assault on the potential readers’ eye? What would make you want to click? Do you have a coherent color scheme? Are the pictures prominent, the text easy to read? What font are you using? Is it as clear as it could be? Would your ideal reader look at your ad and think, “There’s somebody who must have something to show me, because WOW look at that ad!” Your ad is your potential readers’ first impression of you: make sure it is one by which they’re likely to be charmed instead of bored — or worse, annoyed — by seeing.
- Keep it simple. A lot of online advertising has too many bells and whistles: too many things moving, too many different colors, overly ornate fonts, too many exclamation points. People like simple, clean, pretty things to look at. If you make something look that way, they are more likely to be interested in it, because it looks like real content instead of some huckster trying to sell them a new tool for baby nose irrigation. I also ran advertisements on several Federated Media blogs when I was first starting out, and none of those were nearly as successful as the simple text ad I ran, probably because I used an animated gif that annoyed the readers and kept them from clicking on the link.
- Ask a question your ideal reader will know how to answer, and/or that conveys a promise to deliver. People click on things when they see a question dealing with something interesting to them or when they think they know the answer to it. They also will click on something that promises to give them a reward for doing so — which is why those “10 Tips for Simplifying Your Life” type posts always go viral: people will click on it even halfway understanding that they’re not really going to simplify their lives by doing so, it’s just the promise of a possible simplicity that earns the click. The text ad that I ran on Dooce which was most successful was the one that started with “Got snark?” as a headline. I think this was so effective because my ideal reader is the kind of person who not only will answer, “Why, yes, yes, I do,” to that question, but also the kind of person who will feel compelled to click, both because of the promise of snark, and because of the need to check out just who this so-and-so is who thinks she’s got snark.
- Don’t mislead people. When you only have a little bit of room for your ad, or only so much money with which to buy advertising, it’s very tempting to do things designed to get attention. That’s a fine idea, and I’m all for guerilla marketing stunts, within reason. But whatever you come up with to capture the attention of potential readers, make sure that it reflects what you want on your brand. Luring people to click by promising things you cannot promise or misleading them on the content of your blog is not going to get you anything except a bunch of people who click over and then leave your site immediately.