Skin (or Skinned Homepage)

This high impact ad unit makes use of space on a website that is traditionally blank. It is best understood by seeing an example of it in action.

Below is a standard page on IMDb.coma popular site for information about movies and TV shows:

Example of Non-Skinned Page

There are two standard ad units on the page, including a 728×90 leaderboard and a 300×250 rectangle.

This site regularly sells skins to advertisers, often in connection with the upcoming debut of a major film. Below is an example of a “skinned” home page; in addition to the two standard ads dedicated to Amazon creative, the background that is usually empty space has been covered with a custom ad:

Example of Skinned Ad Unit

This ad implementation can be very effective for a couple of reasons:

  1. The appearance of ads in locations where visitors do not normally see them helps to overcome banner blindness, and effectively get the messaging across.
  2. The ubiquitous nature of the advertiser’s messaging creates a strong sense of co-branding, allowing the advertiser to leverage the reputation of the site (i.e., many visitors will envision an endorsement of sorts from the publisher, even if none is explicitly given)

How To: Implementing & Pricing

As you may have guessed, implementing this type of ad unit will require quite a bit of work by both the advertiser (who must make the creative files) and the publisher. Skins can not be served in the same manner that standard leaderboards and rectangles are shown. Getting these creatives to appear in the proper place will involve some time and effort from your development team, depending on how much of your site will be covered.

For many publishers, implementing a skin will be surprisingly simple. Though it looks complex, a skin is often no more than two or three image files pieces together around the outside of a site. If the skinning involves only a single page (such as the homepage), it may be a relatively short task to upload the creatives. However, you’ll need to engage your development team up front to provide the exact technical specifications required (e.g., sizes needed) in order to avoid confusion with the advertiser.

As mentioned above, skins have the potential to deliver significant value to advertisers.

As such, this ad implementation should be priced at a large premium relative to standard ad units. Though each site and advertiser relationship varies, a rule of thumb would be to charge an effective CPM between 200% and 500% of a standard above-the-fold leaderboard.

In most instances, it won’t make sense to propose a skin on a CPM pricing model because tracking the exact number of impressions is challenging. Rather, a skin could be priced at a flat fee or included in a larger placement such as a homepage takeover that has a flat rate.