Are your AdSense ads too blended?

AdSense Optimization Boot Camp Tip #9

A few years ago it was the latest thing to start blending AdSense ads by matching the ad units border and background color with the background of the site. People started trying it to increase CTR and slowly, seeing garishly styled ads slowly disappeared except on sites that needed to use obscene color schemes in the extreme (yes, there are sites than need those hideous color combinations, but in my experience, they are fortunately few and far between!)

But I have slowly noticed a trend over the last year or so where publishers are so focused on blending their ads so much that they have made them too blendy. They match the sites so closely that readers just skim right over the ads because there is absolutely nothing appealing or noticeable about them to draw the eye.

The most noticeable reason is the fact that people match the borders and backgrounds of the ad unit with the page background, make the title blue and the text and URL black. There is a reason why AdSense uses a default URL color of green and not just black to match the description!

One recent site I saw had only blue and black as the sites colors, with a white background. So when the ad units were blue and black, there was nothing to really make them noticeable or differentiate them from plain content on the site. An introduction of a third on-page color, such as in the logo or on outgoing links would have helped tremendously, and it could have then been used as a title or URL color, or even a border color. So even though placement can be stellar, ad units that are too blended just wonโ€™t perform as well.

How to quickly test if your ad units are too blended? Set up two channels โ€“ one for the one you think might be too blended, and a second for one that is a more obvious color scheme, such as red titles or URLs or whatever color it is that you use as an accent on your site. This is not the time to try one of those garish color combinations I mentioned before! Rotate both 50/50 and see which version has the highest CTR rate after a few days. If you find the new one has a higher CTR, you have just increased your daily revenue.

You could find your blended one actually works just fine, or it might not be as blended as yo are worried it might be. But regardless, you have just completed an easy A/B test to increase your earnings. Now you can go and apply it to other things you want to test.

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12 comments to Are your AdSense ads too blended?

  • Hey Jen, I agree with you 100%.

    The main thing your readers should take away from this post is that they need to test their options on their own site.

    I first tried to optimize my adsense campaign by blending, and I thought it was perfect. You couldn’t even tell that it was adsense. I then noticed my clickthru rate plummeted. ๐Ÿ™ It seems like the more you can get it to stand out without looking “spammy” the better clickthru you will get.

  • At a certain point, when you’re blend is toooooo perfect, it almost feels like you are trying to trick people into clicking ads. I make mine match, but they are just different enough to differentiate themselves.

  • Hi Jen, I absolutely agree with your idea and I think sometimes blended ads does not work well. I experienced that some unblended ads could generate more cash than the blended. Tinh

  • The important thing is to do split testing and see which way will provide a higher CTR.

  • Well I’m new to making money with adsense. In that they ran for 4 months amassing a fantastic 3 dollars a month. And then last month I switched TO blending and now have 30 for the 30 days of March. So I’m at this point on the side of blending sinc it deca-dupled my earnings (Jesus, I don’t know how you’d say “multiplied by ten” by hey I think that’s a pretty good made up word to cover it).

    At the same time I have some “slick” sites where they try to get the blending to NOT look like an ad. Mostly sidebar work and color matching. And I match color and font size, and link color too, BUT I have my ads floating so I like to think the feeling you get is “of the same theme, but yes, an ad.”

    And yes testing is clearly the way to go. I just switched to those super high dollar referral ads a few minutes ago and I’m going to let those run for April…

  • Hi Jen,

    I read your article with some surprise. I thought blending ads was always the way to go. However, I guess it always pays to split test, like you say. Thanks for the post.

    – Dave

  • Alok

    Hi Jen

    I would simply say thanks a lot for all the great tips you provide,I have learned a lot and still learning.

  • Well, I think there is some truth in that. I think we have come to the point that almost everyone knows about adsense so once we land in someone else’s site/blog we can make the difference between google ads and the normal links that appear within posts. Anyway, testing is the way to find out and Ill do mine when I need to.


  • I started using adsence aggressively, but click rate was low. Then I switched to medium-blended layout and the click rate improved. Now is around 6% of visits.

  • I’ve tried using the blending method as well as using ads with a border (rounded corners) on a newish site & found that the blended ads performed better & generated almost double in adsense income

  • Tj

    First time I heard of this. Too much blending can actually hurt Adsense income? But yeah, I’ll check it out. Let’s see about this.

  • I’d lean more on the blended side. Everyone knows what adsense ads are and people just don’t pay any attention to them. The only times I nearly click on adsense ads is when they’re really blended. I think and a few others I forget the names of are really good at this.

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