Once upon a time, everyone got their news from actual newspapers. And advertisers paid big bucks to feature their products and their brands in those pages.
The prime spot on any page of the paper — whether for advertisements or actual news stories — was at the top of the page. This area, known as “above the fold,” was the most viewed part of the paper since it is where readers would skim to see what they wanted to read more thoroughly. If your ad appeared there, it would get more eyes than anywhere else in the paper.
Now that most people are getting their news and information online, more companies are spending their ad dollars on digital formats, as well. But the way readers get and process information hasn’t changed much, and those old rules for advertising still apply: Brands want to appear above the fold for the best exposure.
Of course there is no actual “fold” on a web page. When marketers talk about above-the-fold positions online, they are referring to the area of the site you can see on your screen without having to scroll down. That is prime digital real estate, especially on the home page.
Above-the-fold monetization can be very lucrative for your site if you do it right. Here are a few tips to help you maximize your revenue:
Choose the Right Sizing
There is only so much space above the fold on your site, and you should not clutter it with ads. If you do, you will alienate your readers and send your bounce rate skyrocketing, which will have catastrophic effects for your search rankings.
Desktop users typically have a display that is 1024×768 pixels or higher, while mobile screens can be as small as 128×128 pixels. Some mobile devices can have quite a large screen, however, of up to 800×480 pixels.
It is important to keep these dimensions in mind when you are choosing the size of your ads. Many people choose the 320×100 pixel ad unit since it has a size that’s large enough to get noticed but small enough so that it doesn’t clutter the screen.
If you are including multiple ads above the fold, you should choose smaller sizes for your subsequent ads so that you do not have several primary, competing ads.
Experiment with Placement
There are several opportunities for placing ads above the fold on your website.
For example, you can put an ad in your header, above or below your header, at the start of your content, at the top of your sidebar, or nestled within your content (somewhere near the top).
Experiment with placement so that you find the best positioning of ads based on their design and their content. You may find that ads selling different items perform better or worse in different locations, for example, or you may find that color or design has a bigger impact.
Run split testing with your ads until you have some basic guidelines in place for success. You may need to tweak your guidelines from time to time for special occasions, but it is important that you start with the right data.
Offer Advertisers Multiple Options
Not every advertiser will want the size ad you think is best or will want a display ad instead of a text ad (or vice versa).
It is important that you offer advertisers multiple options so that you can meet their needs. Doing so will help you sign more advertisers, which will only drive your revenue.
Placement is an excellent way to offer advertisers options. You can include different pricing plans for each of the page locations mentioned above, and you can even set time limits based on location. For example, you may say that a header ad can only last a week but that an ad at the top of the sidebar can last for the month.
Other ways to offer advertisers options is to give them the choice of display or text ads, provide different sizes, change the pricing according to the time of the week or month, or to package the ads with other features, such as social media mentions.
Don’t forget about alternative advertising options, such as video ads or affiliate offers.
Write up a complete list of the advertising options available and include it on a special landing page or in a media kit that you can send people upon request. You may not want to advertise your rates on your site directly since competitors can easily spy on your practices and find ways to undercut you.
Above-the-fold advertising is a great way to make a lot of money with your site. By offering people several options and taking steps to get advertisers the right exposure, you can maximize your potential revenue and start exceeding your advertising goals.