Toolbars affecting AdSense CTR

Posted on Apr 4, 2010 in AdsenseAdvertising
We all know that, something weird is happening to our CTR and we wonder where that may have come from, in this case I noticed a change with and without a Toolbar.There are great Toolbars for your site that allow you to increase overall user experience on your site. Some of you may know the Wibiya Toolbar – it’s a great tool for enhancing your site and converting your visitors into loyal visitors. It’s a tiny javascript that is embedded and will appear at the bottom of your site on all pages (example: our forum). There’s however one major problem, the toolbar decreases your AdSense Click through Rate (CTR).

My testing showed signifcant CTR-Changes

I was testing this for around a month and thus think I have good data for justifying my argumentation. The CTR for the site in question whilst using the Toolbar was at around 1.75% (stable for a month). It’s been a forum and so 1.75% is already pretty good. I was curious to see the change without the toolbar as I noticed that my eyes immediately focused the toolbar when loading the page. I was right, the toolbar somehow has an influence. Upon removing the toolbar the CTR immediately went up to 2% and stayed stable for another 2 weeks. This drastic change of around 14% does have a signifcant change of the revenue of the site in question.

Why Toolbars reduce your CTR

The answer is distraction. The toolbars change the natural way of reading your website. Normally the person opens your site, looks at the navigation, looks for the content and then finds your primary content. The person will start reading through your content as that’s the reason why he opened your site. During the process of finding the content he will eventually see an advertisement and click it. With the toolbar that behaviour changes.The person now opens your site, looks for the primary content and then moves with eyes on your Toolbar. The initial chance of the user clicking your AdSense ads is gone. This is the key moment in your’s change in surfing behaviour and banner-blindness. While the default journe to the primary content does not make him banner blind, the journey to the toolbar does. On the default journey the visitor is looking through blended ads without being aware of them initially. The moment he’s aware of them he already had a look on them in some cases clicked the ads. Now that he is seeing the toolbar he is distracted from his goal: reading the content. This distraction may make him subconciously more aware of banners on your site and thus increase banner blindness.Thus once distracted the user will not even look at the ads. He’ll either bounce away directly or subconciously ignore the ads, resulting in no clicks for you, That’s the reason for the change in your click-through-rate.

So, what to do about it?

My suggestion is that you remove the Toolbar for most of your traffic. In my case I removed the toolbar for all my unregistered users which generate the majority of my income. They usually just read the content anyway and do not care that much about a facebook fan page. Of course, I would love to recruit guests for Facebook and Twitter as well, but in my case that does not justify a change of 14% in my daily earnings. I recommend testing this out yourself and seeing how your revenue changes. Depending on that either go for the toolbar, or not.What may also work if the Toolbar is not at the actual bottom of the screen but instead of the buttom of your page. That way it’s only shown to users who browse all the way down on your website. I think this should definitely solve the problem. What’s your experience?