Could there be anything worse than a slideshow on a website?

Pagination is always important on the internet. We’ve all been stuck sitting through a list of top ten “coolest dogs in beret’s” and having to click the “next” button ten times gets particularly annoying. The biggest online culprits when it comes to using a slideshow on a website include Business Insider and Forbes.

It makes sense for a publisher, you’re easily able to increase your pageviews. For advertisers it’s annoying as their inventory gets depleted on useless clicks. Readers are probably more focused and are therefore ignoring the adverts. The setup is doubly annoying for readers as they have to click through multiple pages of content and wait for adverts to download before they see the content. The only group really winning is the publisher and this is a trend that will hopefully not go on for much longer.

Suddenly instead of a handful of adverts served you’ve got ten times the amount. It’s not entirely a legitimate process.

Digiday went and looked at their top three “offenders” and their misuse of the concept.

How the slideshows are misused in digital marketing


  • 4 IAB display impressions per slide.
  • 10 slides.
  • 40 impressions total.
  • = 4 ads per slide.

Bleacher Report

  • 4 IAB display impressions per slide, not all refresh with every click.
  • 9 slides.
  • 20 impressions total.
  • = 2.22 Ads per slide.


  • 2 IAB impressions per slide.
  • 101 slides including intro slide.
  • 204 impressions total.
  • = 2.02 Ads per slide.

With the growth of native advertising we will see less of this type of advertising and it’s interesting to see that the likes of Buzzfeed don’t use slideshows. Publishers, are you still doing this and do advertisers accept this? We think it’s a poor tactic but we can also see the benefit for publishers.

This approach to presenting content has one goal in mind: making money for the publisher. If it were aimed at the consumer it would have looked at how to make they digital experience more enjoyable.

Rich media mobile ads are a great way to improve clicks

Mobile advertising has an interesting path in that it seems to parallel web advertising of around ten years ago. Take for example to move from static mobile ads banners to rich media mobile banners and their growing popularity.

A recent study by Opera Mindworks discusses how mobile clicks are vastly higher than desktop clicks, sometimes by a factor of around five! Rich media ads achieved a CTR of 1.53% when displayed in an app and 1.12% on the mobile web. In comparison, standard banner ads achieved CTRs of 0.39% and 0.32% respectively.

Currently, standard banner ads (300×50 and 320-50) make up more than half of the campaigns. In the past quarter advertisers have begun to adopt relatively new but highly effective ad types such as tap-to-expand and VAST interstitial (mobile video) units. These two types in particular are favorites of premium brand advertisers who are looking to share unique content and deepen engagement with consumers rather than “light touch” metrics such as brand awareness or low-end conversions.

The best performing ads — those which achieve click-through rates well above 1% — are in the Automotive, Entertainment, Mobile Content and Travel categories. Unsurprisingly, all of the top campaigns in these categories were rich media, though just half of them were in-app vs. mobile web.

Interestingly Apple still has the bulk of web traffic although Android is rapidly catching up.

mobile ads

For advice on how best to use mobile banners and rich media contact us to discuss your campaign. You will find that many of the affiliate programs on do have mobile specific banner sizes that you can use. If there are any of the affiliate marketing programs you want to run, but can’t find a banner that works for your mobile website, please contact us. We want you to have as much success as possible with your affiliate campaigns and make money online wherever it is possible.

Advertisers: get the best out of your SEO

As an advertiser or agency you don’t need us to tell you that it’s important to make sure you get the highest return on investment for your advertising spend. SEO makes up an important part of your marketing budget but how does one actually measure SEO results?

Ascend2 and Research Underwriters in June 2013 surveyed businesses worldwide, comparing them based on their self-rated SEO performance as either “very successful” or “not successful.” The study found that companies with superior SEO strategies were more likely than those with poor SEO strategies to focus on increasing their traffic conversion rate. By contrast, companies with inferior SEO strategies were more likely to worry about increasing website traffic in general. Companies with stronger SEO performance were also more likely to emphasize increased content development, compared with poorer performing companies.

The report pointed out that the most common SEO practices for B2C companies include the following:

  1. Updating the site
  2. Keywords
  3. Original content

However, the results also show that creating original content is considered one of the most difficult aspects of SEO to get right. This is probably due to the lack of “science” involved with content as opposed to pure keyword activities. Blogging and re-purposing existing content saw the least interest among B2C marketers as worthwhile tactics.

On the B2B side things are slightly different with keywords and original content swapping places for second and third. Interestingly in the B2B arena creating landing pages is fairly popular in fourth place and was considered one of the easiest “wins” in terms of SEO.

The critical issue to consider: metrics. When it comes to actually deciding how their SEO strategy is performing, nearly half of both B2Bs and B2Cs said conversion rate was the most useful metric, pointing again to how those businesses with the least successful SEO strategies might improve. Traffic to your website is one thing, converting it is a whole different aspect.

SEO is the friend of all website

The concepts behind search engine optimization is really the friend of any website. Although the main aim is to improve rankings in search engines, it also builds the foundation for a top quality site.

The site would not only be aimed at impressing the likes of Google and Bing, but will also offer users the best possible experience. Long gone are the days where a few little underhanded sneaky tricks to move you up the rankings. The only way these days to get the results you want is by putting in the work.

Everything you do in your efforts to improve your rankings should be built in quality and delivering this quality consistently.

The result is that you will have visitors to your site that enjoy your content and find value in it. This in turn will increase the likelihood of them acting on any affiliate marketing programs you have running on your site. You would be able to drive more sales and generate many more leads as a result.

There are really no losers when it comes to quality content. Although the effort that goes into improving your rankings are time consuming, it comes with lasting benefits. It pays to put in the effort.

What sort of writing resources do you need as a publisher?

It’s an interesting discussion: how many writers does it take to provide a usable amount of content for a website? Can one writer provide ten items of content per day at a quality level? If that’s the benchmark does a writer who provides five extremely high quality articles provide more value to a publisher than one average writer that provides ten articles per day? Basically: how much of publishing is a quality game and how much is a numbers issue? Where do you find the writing resources to help you succeed when it comes to creating top quality content.

Publishers were always focused on quality over quantity, that was until the likes of Huffington Post started pumping (and we mean pumping) out content. The company has 532 full-time editorial staff producing about 1,200 pieces of content per day (and that’s not including the 28 full-time blog editors who oversee the 400 pieces of content per day coming from its blog). All this content generates 43 million pageviews per day.

It’s a matter of inevitability: if you’ve got a business model that values pageviews then hitting a high level is your only option. We’re not saying the higher your pageviews the lower quality your content but there is a definite drive towards higher numbers, no matter the cost.

Digiday did a great expose on how many contributors large publishers require to push out high levels of content:

New York Times: 1,100 newsroom: 350 pieces of content per day (per September 2010): 17.4 million pageviews per day.

Huffington Post: 532 full-time editorial staff: 1,200 pieces of editorial content per day. 28 full-time blog editors: 400 blog posts per day: 43.4 million pageviews per day.

Buzzfeed: 100 full-time editorial staff: 373 pieces of editorial content per day: 6.4 million pageviews per day.

Slate: 40 full-time editorial staff: 60 pieces of editorial content per day: 2.4 million pageviews per day.

The Awl family of properties: about eight full-time staff: (including The Awl: 2; The Hairpin: 1.5; The Billfold: 2; Splitsider: 2.2): about 60 pieces of editorial content per day (The Awl: 20; The Hairpin: 12; The Billfold: 11; Splitsider: 16): 64,000 pageviews per day for TheAwl.

Business Insider: 70 full-time editorial staff: 300 pieces of editorial content per day: 2.5 million pageviews per day.

To put this into context: the New York Times has three people for every piece of content they publish daily. This is in stark contrast to Buzzfeed where each writer publishers around 4 articles per day.

We’re not here to discuss whether content online is a quality or quantity game but it is interesting to note that there is no distinct correlation between size of editorial team and quantity of content produced. Smaller publishers can rejoice and fight against the big boys.

TOP TIP FOR GETTING CONTENT: Everyone who is trying to make a success of their digital marketing efforts needs to quality content. To find new ideas every single day you can simply set up Google Alerts based on keywords related to your industry. Your mailbox will receive articles on a daily basis to help you in creating new and engaging content for your users. The efforts you put into creating top quality content will have a couple of great spin-offs:
1. It will improve your search engine rankings for a range of keyword terms related to your industry
2. You will end up getting more and more traffic to your website
3. Your potential for earning from your affiliate marketing efforts will increase
4. Most importantly you will be engaging your visitors and offer them the information they are looking for

Common ad server questions

Being an online ad provider we often get a lot of questions on how the actual technology behind and ad server work, what are the common ad banner sizes and what are the benefits of online banners. As such we decided to answer all three in one educational post:

Q: How does an ad server work?

When a browser navigates to a publisher website, the publisher’s web server sends back a bunch of HTML code that tells the browser where to get the content and how to format it. Part of the HTML code returned to the browser will include a coded link known as an ad tag. If you right click on an ad unit and select “view source” or “inspect element” you’ll see a bunch of random numbers and letters that make up the code to call the advert.

The ad tag points the browser to the Publisher’s Ad Server, a system designed exclusively for delivering and tracking advertising. The content server tells the browser to fetch the ad from the server and then make the very complex decision on which ad to serve using a program called an Ad Selector.

Q: What are the most common banner sizes?

We get banner ad sizes regulated by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau)  and while they do tend to change over the years, these are the most common currently:

  • 728X90 Leaderboard: This is usually found on the top of a site and is a wide but relatively flat image.
  • 300X250 Rectangle: This is used almost exclusively in a sidebar however it has recently become quite common to find this size advert on individual content pages. This size has become very popular amongst both advertisers and the agencies that create the adverts.
  • 300X600 Half Page Ad: This advert size generally is found on the right hand side of a website above the fold (visible without having to scroll). Ad servers allow for a 300X250 banner to expand to a 300X600 advert. Advertisers use this to attract attention due to its size.
  • 125X125 Square: This is a size usually often used by smaller publishers offering smaller but cheaper advertising space. You will often see four of these adverts grouped together in a similar space to a 300X250 Rectangle advert with some padding to make up for the difference in pixels.

 Q: What are the pro’s of a banner?

Some benefits include:

  • Cost – compared to newspaper placements or TV spots, online banners are still relatively inexpensive.
  • Instant gratification – your customers can see your ad, shop and buy (if you sell products online) without leaving home. That sort of convenience is hard to beat.
  • Testing – if you create a brochure, you have to print and distribute it before you are able to measure response. On the Internet, response (or lack of response) is lightning fast. Also, since it’s relatively simple to switch out banner ads, online advertising gives you the ability to test creative campaigns and fine tune messaging. This can help increase effectiveness of your campaign and enhance results.
  • Geo-targeting – online advertising gives you the ability to geo-target your ads, ensuring that they are only viewed, and clicked, by your intended geographic and niche audience. This allows you to create localized messages that appear on national sites.
  • Constant exposure – your online ad works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

So there you have it. If you have any more questions give us a call or send us an email and we at OfferForge will happily help with any ad server related queries you might have.

Should SEO be part of the marketing department?

If you think back to the days of the first websites for companies: the development was almost always led by the technical department. These days it’s on someone in the marketing departments KPI’s for the year to ensure that the website is constantly update. We’re happy to get the IT department to develop a site but we don’t trust them with the layout, design or content.

The same is true for SEO. We exclusively trust the marketing department to come up with an SEO strategy and while we, on the odd occasion, might trust the IT department to do the hard graft we don’t want them to go near anything “creative”. Generally we outsource our SEO to a third party that knows very little about your company. If you consider that the marketing and sales departments are usually separate in a company you can see a potential problem putting SEO purely in the hands of the marketing department.

If sales are being fed the leads and marketing is unaware of the quality of these leads is there really a point in putting money into SEO?

It should be a joined up process that might start with digital marketing and PR but which should end with your sales department feeding back information about the quality of leads and volume of new business that SEO instigates. Thankfully SEO as a term being phased out of many marketer’s vocabulary, with €˜content marketing€™ and online PR€™ the two front-runners as its replacement. Surely that change indicates a need to move towards a more integrated approach?

The situation is especially bad when using multiple third parties. The PR company doesn’t inform the SEO (content) company what is happening and the marketing and sales departments fall flat. It doesn’t have to be like this!

A working example of the benefits of taking this approach is when a brand’s PR agency is running a campaign that is generating a lot of coverage then the SEO agency should be informed of this in order to ring around the publications where coverage has been gained and turn these mentions into links.

SEO, PR, advertising, marketing and sales teams are ultimately all working towards the same goal: to generate new business.

It’s time to stop seeing different departments as the enemy when it comes to SEO. If you continue to see SEO as a purely marketing function, you might as well be flushing your cash down the toilet.

You should consider the look of the marketing department

A move away from working in silos will result in a more cohesive image of the business being portrayed. Working in collaboration helps all facets of the business to grow continuously. Taking an approach where the successful total is the sum of all the moving parts, you will be able to build a long term sustainable department.

Online shopping and Generation Y

As Generation Y (the roughly 18-35 year old market) continues to grow and become more active in the workplace it’s important to discuss how web trends need to change to engage this generation. We know millennials are online more than anyone else. We also know that this is a group of people completely connected via social media and are completely captivated by their peer reviews. We’ve looked at how best to appeal to the senior, baby boomer market online and today we’re looking at tricks for e-commerce portals to entice the younger generations.

A January 2013 survey from ad agency DDB Worldwide of US web users’ attitudes toward ecommerce found that both males and females ages 18 to 34 were more likely than their 35- to 64-year-old counterparts to engage in nearly every online shopping activity, with 40% of males and 33% of females in the younger age group reporting that ideally they would buy everything online.

The interesting stat is that these shoppers aren’t trawling your online store to buy. 45% Of respondents to the survey say they spend an hour or more “window shopping”. It seems men are taking homeopathic hgh to online shopping faster than women: Men were more likely to say they spent more than 2 hours daily on retail sites, cited by 20%, compared with 13% of women who spent as much time per day online shopping.

Twenty-three percent of millennials said they liked to purchase cosmetics and personal care items online and 27% reported preferring buying shoes online. And whether or not respondents bought shoes online, more than half said they liked to consult the internet at some point in the purchase path.

Unsurprisingly discounts prove to be a major appeal. Over 60% of respondents mentioned using auction sites and around 50% follow their favourite brand on Facebook in order to keep up to date with sales and specials. Services such as comparison shopping sites are also massive and will continue to play an important part in researching pricing. It’s surprising that we’re not seeing vertical integration in online businesses but it’s surely a matter of time.

Generation Y are online, they’re using their phones to research a product. If you’re not using social media and price comparison sites to target them, you might be dead in the water.

Do homepage takeovers suck?

Homepage takeovers: one of the most annoying digital marketing tactics

We found an article on tech site Memeburn today titled “Homepage takeovers are wildly inefficient: here’s why” and while the article is extremely well written and has an interesting point, we feel it’s inaccurate.

The article makes the following points and then goes on to mention how retargeting is a better solution.

Earlier this year, Digiday revealed how much brands are paying to take over the homepage of major sites across the web, and the results were pretty shocking: US$450 000 for a one-day homepage takeover at Yahoo!; US$400 000 for a one-day YouTube takeover; US$400 000 for an AOL takeover, too.

I can think of about 10 000 better ways for media buyers to spend their display budgets (and only half of them involve expensive rum and Barcelona). You’re making a huge bet that the right people will visit Yahoo! or AOL that day and see your ads, and, chances are, they will not. Returns on homepage takeovers for direct response marketers are usually very low.

It’s easy to see why — very diverse groups of people visit Yahoo! and AOL. Making such a broad marketing buy may have been acceptable a decade ago when ad targeting was in its infancy; to marketers accustomed to big TV buys, homepage takeovers made sense. But it’s not acceptable today, when marketers have the tools to target an individual with display ads based on their behaviour and to customize their campaigns based on what’s working best. With a homepage takeover, you put all your eggs in one basket and you don’t learn much beyond, “Wow, that was a really expensive basket.”

The article makes a great point, why spend a large sum of money taking over a homepage when you can segment your audience. Essentially putting a generic homepage takeover on the front of a website is akin to putting a billboard next to the highway, you have no idea what value you’re getting.

Except that you know exactly what value you’re getting:

According to eMarketer the results from a homepage takeover increase the website dwell rate by up to 67%. This stat shows that people are purposefully staying on a homepage to get an idea of what the takeover is about:

lift in homepage takeovers vs polite banners

Add to the fact that no one is forcing you to takeover the front of a webpage then a homepage takeover seems to make more sense. You don’t put an auto brand on the front page of a news website, you takeover the specific automotive section of the site.

Any marketing is inefficient if used incorrectly. Segmentation, targeting and focus are required, no matter the medium.