3 Ideas to Improve Leaderboard Ad Performance

We have previously highlighted some common mistakes made with leaderboard ads and gave out a design idea that will improve performance. Below are three additional ideas for generating more revenue from the standard leaderboard ad unit. Making these changes will likely lead to a boost in display ad revenue on almost any site.

Test #1: Add 728×15 Link Unit

Link units are one of the most under-utilized ad units available through AdSense, and there is an opportunity to use them alongside leaderboard ad units. If you’re looking to generate some additional revenue and are willing to have some text links above-the-fold, try inserting a 728×15 link unit directly below your leaderboard unit.

Below highlights this implementation:

AdSense Link Unit Idea

We’ve seen this implementation perform extremely well, with the link units generating RPMs roughly equivalent to the leaderboard itself. And this came without significant cannibalization of the standard ad unit; the revenue generated from the link unit was almost entirely incremental.

Test #2: Try Other Monetization Strategies

Many site layouts utilize “standard” ad units such as the leaderboard in prime real estate, but there are other opportunities as well. For example, many sites utilize sponsored content solutions such as Taboola or Outbrain below-the-fold, burying them in less visible sections of the site.

Below is an example of an alternative monetization strategy on Politico. Instead of positioning a leaderboard below the nav bar, there are links to pieces of content. This includes sponsored content links provided by Taboola that generate revenue under a CPC pricing model:

Example of ATF Taboola Llinks

Test #3: Add Footer Leaderboard

Let’s take another look at the oldie-but-goodie AdSense heatmap, with particular attention paid to the bottom of the page:

Highlighting Below the Fold Leaderboard Opportunities

That lower section that we’ve highlighted in pink should jump out as an opportunity. Many sites don’t give much thought to below-the-fold ad unit positions, assuming that the low visibility means limited opportunity. But the section of a site just above the footer can be a very effective place for a 728×90 leaderboard.

Here’s an example of this in action on IMDb.com:

Example of Footer Leaderboard Ad Unit

This footer leaderboard will typically generate effective RPMs that are about 25% to 50% of an above-the-fold ad unit. That may not seem like much, but it is incremental revenue that will add up.

Bottom Line

The leaderboard is a component of just about every site that monetizes through display advertising. Though the ad unit itself is standard, there are a number of options when it comes to implementing that can result in varying levels of monetary success.