Place CPC Ad Blocks in a Left Sidebar

by jim on December 21st, 2009

Every once and a while I stop by Liz Pulliam Weston’s website,, to see what she’s been up to. As one of the most prolific personal finance writers out there, I’m always surprised to see her maintain a personal finance blog as well as keep all her other commitments. Heck, she even took the time to join JD Roth and myself on our personal finance podcast, The Personal Finance Hour.

The last time I was there, I saw that she added some monetization elements to the site. There are Google Adsense blocks after each post, a Sunglass Hut banner at the top, some other 125×125 ads in the right sidebar, plus a list of her books on Amazon. I sent Liz an email offering some help, if monetization was a goal of hers, and got in contact with her web designer to discuss it a little more.

I thought one particular discussion would be valuable to share with you. The designer said that she understood that it was standard to have the advertising in a right sidebar and that it was a better user experience. I don’t know what is considered standard (left or right) or which was a better user experience but ads in the left sidebar perform better.

Eyetracking Supports Ads on Left

Ads in the left sidebar are clicked far more often than ads on the right. I wish I could quote statistics from Bargaineering but when I made that decision I was less testing/analytics driven than I am today. Any heatmap eyetracking study has shown that the hottest areas are in the top left, rarely pushing too far to the right. This heatmap image from an eyetracking study of Google Search results pretty much sums up the internet experience (in most cases). Here’s the accompanying press release, which is also a valuable read.


If the ads are from a CPM perspective (paid based on the number of times it’s loaded), it’s better on the right because fewer people leave the site by clicking on the ad. Since you’re paid for the number of times the ad is displayed, rather than the numbers of clicks, the right side ad is better for a publisher because you still get paid and you don’t lose a visitor.

Adsense is based on a CPC model, so you are, for the most part, only paid when someone clicks and leaves your site. If you’re trying to maximize that, you’ll want to put it in the left sidebar where the visitor is almost always going to see it.

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