When it comes to monetization, ad placement is definitely important. I've heard from many people that after changing their ad placement, earnings went up significantly.
Update: As Mandi so wisely pointed out in the comments below, and I completely failed to specify in the post here, this mainly applies to PPC/CPC ads (Paid Per Click or Cost Per Click) where you get paid when people click. (Read my Affiliate Marketing Explained posts for more about ads.)
Here's a handy tool from Google that gives you a good idea of the best places to put ads on your page.
This is called a heat map. The darker the orange, the best spot for ads (in general).
- Your ad placement must work well with your design. Garish, gaudy or assaulting is never good.
- Your ad placement must not turn off your users. This is a delicate balance and you won't please everyone. You'll need to experiment to see what works for you.
- Just because a spot is bright orange doesn't mean you should put an ad there. Ad-heavy sites are a drag to visit. Too many ads will work against you in the long run.
- Don't make it hard to find your real content among your ads.
- Be careful about how many ads you place above the fold. Google recently announced that sites with a lot of ads above the fold won't rank as highly:
Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.
- Not sure what's "above the fold" on your site? Here's a tool that will tell you.
- As always, experiment, experiment, experiment. These are general guidelines to get you started but take note of what your readers seems to respond (and not respond) to.
When it comes to ads, what do you think? Got any more hints or tips?