Putting up, shutting up, getting data

In a ranty post over the weekend, I argued against interruption-based ads as a way of proving your value. One of the commenters, Takeshi, said that so many affiliate sites do it because it probably works. When I asked for links to data and resources, Takeshi did what so few people do – he came up with the goods.

The folks over at ProBlogger put up a case study of using interruption advertising to drive lead generation on a photography site. Their study results compared lead generation for a free newsletter using a prominently placed sidebar signup (like the one here on Marketing Over Coffee) with a middle of the page, in your face advertisement.

The results, including some nice graphics, are impressive. Out of 192,000 monthly visitors at the time of the experiment (checked this morning with Compete.com), two disliked the popups enough to complain about it. TWO.

Here’s the kicker: the site went from about 40 signups a day for their newsletter to about 350, a 900% increase in conversion. That’s about 125,000 signups a year. That also meant that out of their 4,300 visitors a day (approximate), they took conversion from about 1% to about 8.1%.

I don’t know about you, but getting visitors to convert at that level would make me happy. That’s beyond beer-money sized audience to a newsletter. Heck, that’s beyond pay-your-rent money and well into pay-for-your-private-yacht money.

Two lessons here:

1. Be like Takeshi. When asked for data, he came up with the goods, and I love that. Opinion is nice, but data is gold.

2. As a result, I’ll be shutting up now about in-page popup ads. I still think they diminish the usefulness and helpfulness of a web site, but those numbers, those hard data results, are very difficult to argue with. Does that free newsletter still need to provide value? Of course. But the popup ad in page is clearly and unquestionably working for them.

I’d like your data-supported opinions, especially if you have a dissenting view, in the comments.


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14 thoughts on “Putting up, shutting up, getting data”

  1. Maybe it was the wording/style of the ads that got your back up so much? I'm betting that a photography site is going to have a nicer design to its ads than anything to do with affiliate marketing.

  2. Possibly, but I took a look at their site (followed the links from the ProBlogger article) and it was similar in style and tone to some of the affiliate ads. No, I think it's just a bias on my part and one I need to eliminate in order to see more clearly about what's working and what's not working.

  3. I have the same problem sometimes, certain marketing tactics are a real turn-off for me and I assume that it annoys everyone else just as much. I have to remind myself that I am not the typical consumer – perhaps we project too much. If something works, by the numbers, but you find it ugly/coarse/abhorrent, think about why it works, how you'd improve on it and the ways to play nice with it – SEObook.com's in-page popup ads are a good case in point.

  4. I've never complained about an interrupting ad. I just click the little red X and never, ever visit the site again. I'll never view your content, never add a comment, never, ever, spend money on your product.

  5. Maybe it was the wording/style of the ads that got your back up so much? I’m betting that a photography site is going to have a nicer design to its ads than anything to do with affiliate marketing.

    1. Possibly, but I took a look at their site (followed the links from the ProBlogger article) and it was similar in style and tone to some of the affiliate ads. No, I think it’s just a bias on my part and one I need to eliminate in order to see more clearly about what’s working and what’s not working.

      1. I have the same problem sometimes, certain marketing tactics are a real turn-off for me and I assume that it annoys everyone else just as much. I have to remind myself that I am not the typical consumer – perhaps we project too much. If something works, by the numbers, but you find it ugly/coarse/abhorrent, think about why it works, how you’d improve on it and the ways to play nice with it – SEObook.com’s in-page popup ads are a good case in point.

  6. I’ve never complained about an interrupting ad. I just click the little red X and never, ever visit the site again. I’ll never view your content, never add a comment, never, ever, spend money on your product.

  7. The analyzed ad is among the least offensive of the type – I'm sure the results could be made worse by taking up the whole page or putting up a proper interstitial.

    And maybe the quality of subscriber is diminished? If you just want to sell stuff (which we all really do) then any lead is golden – but what if (as we all claim) we want the CSPenns of the world to read what we think on a daily basis?

    Joe

  8. The analyzed ad is among the least offensive of the type – I’m sure the results could be made worse by taking up the whole page or putting up a proper interstitial.

    And maybe the quality of subscriber is diminished? If you just want to sell stuff (which we all really do) then any lead is golden – but what if (as we all claim) we want the CSPenns of the world to read what we think on a daily basis?

    Joe

  9. Problogger did a good job of examining how it worked and explaining it. Even so, I still don't like it, and won't do it. Most of the time I won't go back to a site that has it, but some have enough quality for me to continue with it. I guess it's no more in your face than those Burger King ads.

  10. Problogger did a good job of examining how it worked and explaining it. Even so, I still don’t like it, and won’t do it. Most of the time I won’t go back to a site that has it, but some have enough quality for me to continue with it. I guess it’s no more in your face than those Burger King ads.

    1. Agreed – the lesson for my own skills is to not take anything off the table outright – with thoughtful usage, and depending on the audience, there’s a place for nearly everything.

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