At dianomi we spend a lot of time talking about the positioning of ad placements on websites. The accepted wisdom is that ‘above the fold’ is the best place to be. ‘The fold’ is a publishing concept that moved from print to digital and it describes the area of the page that you can see above the fold of a newspaper or the area of a website that you can see without scrolling down. Both editors and advertisers want their stories or advertisements to be above the fold because another accepted wisdom is that users don’t scroll down, or few of them do.
Another concept you’ll hear in web design is “hierarchy” and that hierarchy is important because it makes pages look ordered. Many sites these days will order their pages with a headline rotator or about 4 major items, step down in size to 4 or 5 more and then arrange the remaining content underneath in smaller and smaller units – just like newspapers used to.
But aren’t these accepted wisdoms of ‘the fold’ and hierarchy making it harder to monetise a site? If you accept that fewer users will look down the page and place less important content below the fold, don’t you reinforce that users won’t look down the page? Doesn’t this in turn devalue the ad placements further down the page as advertisers and sales teams accept that they have a lower value? Effectively monetising a site is now top of every publisher’s priorities – but this is made harder if advertisers only want to appear above the fold and compete for space with the lead editorial items which attract users attention in the first place.
So here’s my suggestion to all publishers and web designers: it is time to think about ‘The Prize’
The prize is a simple idea: place some important content with equal value to the lead items at the bottom of your pages giving the user a prize for reaching the bottom of the page. Make sure this content is big and bold. Change it as often as your lead content. Remove the random and sometimes extensive white spaces under different columns and look at the page as having a defined start and end. If users get to know that all parts of the page are worthwhile then they will read the whole page – their clicks and attention will be more evenly spread. In turn advertising placements further down the page will increase in value. Monetising will be more effective and design of pages will become more creative.
By Julian Peterson