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Let's say you have a website - that is either a non-profit or otherwise positions itself as good for community - that runs banner ads to cover some of it's costs.

I was wondering what would be the effect of accompanying the banners with a positive explanatory caption, something like:

  • "We are a non-profit; this ad pays for our servers"
  • "This ad sponsors our DJs utility bills"

My questions are:

  • I am sure someone already tried it before, please recommend any reading or research.
  • Can it improve the perception of my brand/non-profit despite showing banner ads?
  • Can it ultimately increase the banner CTR and if yes what is the moral/legal implication of users clicking on ads to help their favourite website?
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Why do you have to explain the use of banners to the community? –  Tom Jan 24 '12 at 20:35
    
Well, that's the question I'm asking here, should I? Maybe let's think this way, wouldn't it be nice to emphasize that we are a non-profit and the banners we display aren't fuelling our greed but merely paying for our servers... –  daniel.sedlacek Jan 25 '12 at 9:46
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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Can it improve the perception of my brand/non-profit despite showing banner ads?

  • Yes, assumptions and judgments will be made whenever ads are present related to how obtrusive they are. Especially in your case of non-profit and if you are relatively unknown. Studies of online trust show that the online demographic is somewhat skeptical.

Can it ultimately increase the banner CTR and if yes what is the moral/legal implication of users clicking on ads to help their favourite website?

  • Yes CTR can be increased (or decreased depending on your message :) ). This is all legal (in EU/US at least) so long as you don't lie to the user or breach contract with the ad provider (eg. "Please click below a few times but don't buy anything").

In brief I'd recommend using the strongest statement that is true and good for your brand.

"Please consider these ads as they help keep this site running:" - is totally safe.

Lastly, something to consider: Advertisements are there in spite of the primary function of providing the user with the content of the site (assuming there is content) and as such will invariably detract from the UX of the site. The trick is to do so minimally :)

A very good article to that effect can be found here: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030505.html

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Thanks for the elaborate answer. –  daniel.sedlacek Feb 2 '12 at 16:54
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I would like to combat the larger problem here where the non-profit as been falsely advised that banner ads are going to help cover their costs. Banner ads, and ads in general on sites generate very very low revenue, about 0.01cents per click, then you have the placement of ads which may generate you $6-12/mnth for placement and possible an investment per impression but for a non-profit those analytics would be hard to get for an investor to justify placement. There is also the issue of increased usage of adblocking software in browsers, and in personal anti-virus/malware protection programs.

So simply put, your users is probably just going to see your little message and not the ad, and be confused.

It is becoming more and more of a standard however to place a little ^ADVERTISEMENT^ message right below so the user knows that is not important content towards their choice of visiting your website.

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Sorry but your answer doesnt really answer the question. It wasnt a question about using banners or not. We have no info about how the website sells the banner space or how many visitors they will have. –  Tony Bolero Jan 24 '12 at 18:55
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