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All posts by Alison

How to implement the right skyscraper ad

Why are there different sizes?

Officially, and for the majority of the Publishers in Gourmet Ads, the 160×600 sized ad unit is the standard skyscraper. The 160×600 is the most popular size around the world, however in the UK, the 120×600 is the most popular size. When you’re working with hundreds of sites around the world like we do at Gourmet Ads, it’s essential to have standards.

For Gourmet Ads, the UK is the only territory in the world where advertising agencies supply us a 120×600 sized skyscraper. Sometimes we’ll only be provided a 120×600, however more agencies are providing both sizes.

For UK Publishers we’re often asked for the 120×600 sized ad tag, however we always prefer to provide the 160×600 as a standard. A select few Publishers are restricted to the design of their sites, and as such, we will work within those barriers.

Which size is best for me?

In determining which size skyscraper to use, there are two scenarios we consider and both depend on where your website traffic originates. For a UK Publisher with only UK traffic,  the 120×600 is suitable. However, for international sites with traffic in the UK, it’s essential to only use the 160×600.

In the cases where we’ve only been provided a 120×600, we’ll traffic that ad into the center of the 160×600 sized ad unit. That way we still can deliver the reach required for the advertiser without having to ask publishers to run the 160×600.

What are dynamic ad tags?

Switching leaderboard ad tags run 4 different ad sizes

IAB rising star units have recently grown in popularity by Advertisers and their agencies, due in part to the 970px wide leaderboards featured on the homepage of Youtube around the world.

As a result, the team at Gourmet Ads has developed, what we refer to as switching leaderboard ad tags. Similar in nature to our switching 300×250/300×600 ad unit, the new switching leaderboard ad tags give Publishers a wide variety of ad sizes via a single ad tag, thus maximizing revenue.

Ideal for websites that can run a 970 wide ad unit, above-the-fold, the switching leaderboard ad tags can run all these sizes:

Benefits of the 970 wide switching leaderboard ad tags:

  • Four different ad sizes in a single ad tag
  • Higher revenue compared to the standard 728×90
  • Ideal for sites that can accomodate wider ad units
  • Can be run as part of a roadblock
  • Video, rich media or static creative
  • Can be run at the top of a website or in-line.

If you’re a Gourmet Ads Publisher and would like to include a switching leaderboard ad tag on your site, please contact us.

How to create a content plan

A blog is one of the best ways to build an audience, advertise new products, and build your brand. But a blog without a solid content plan is typically unsuccessful. Utilize this guide to help you create a content plan that helps you meet your audience and revenue goals.

Why do I need a plan?

A content plan for your blog is part schedule, part strategy.  You don’t necessarily have to post something new everyday, but you should develop a strategy so that your readers know when to come back for more information. Whether that is twice a week or seven days a week, you will want your readers to anticipate when the latest installment of your blog will release. A content plan is highly effective in helping you manage your time as well.  When you first start your blog, you are probably full of ideas for posts that you want to do, but it is easy to get burned out and run out of ideas.  By knowing how often you are going to post, you can spend time deciding on a few specific areas to write about rather than sorting through dozens of ideas. Not only will this make it easier for you to plan the time you need to devote to your blog, it will also build loyal readers who realize that you are posting content that is well thought out and valuable.

Creating a content plan for your food blog is essential for being a good blogger

A content plan makes it easier to become a good blogger. You will want to schedule time to monitor your posts so that you can respond to comments. You will also be writing regularly, a strategy that improves your standing in the greater food community. The more often your blog is updated with content that your readers want to see, the more you will be looked to for good information. Keep in mind that writing a food-related blog isn’t just about reviewing products or reminiscing about favorite meals. A successful blog post provides real resources your readers can use to make their lives better.

How to create a content plan:

Your content strategy begins as soon as you decide what you will pst and when. Start by pulling out a twelve month calendar that you can make notes on.  What are some of the important dates on that calendar? Write your blog based on those dates.  For example, as spring approaches, you may want to write a blog about traditional Easter meal ideas. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, what about a blog post talking about ways to make a special breakfast in bed for mom? Or barbecuing tips to make dad that perfect steak in June?  Break your blog post ideas into categories that relate specifically to calendar dates, and then make notes of what you want to cover.  Not only is this a great way to match your blog to your advertising goals, it can also provide much needed inspiration as your stare at your computer screen. Also, don’t forget to put information on your calendar about major sales or promotions so you can blog about those as well.

Your blog is an ideal forum for promoting everything from New Year’s black eyed peas to Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas hams. A solid content plan will give your food blog the consistency and value that will bring readers back to your site.

Need some fresh ideas? Download our food planning calendar.

Do you need your own ad server?

Gourmet Ads can manage all the advertising on most food sites

The majority of sites a part of Gourmet Ads will simply drop our ad tags into the code of the site allowing us to run 100% of the impressions. Gourmet Ads runs on the large Appnexus platform which means most Gourmet Ads Publishers don’t require the added complexity of running their own ad server.

However, for a limited numbers of Publishers this isn’t the best solution. For larger food sites (sites with over 1million impressions per day) we recommend using an ad server to give you significant control on how ads are served on your site. It also means that you run multiple ads through one ad space.

Unlike other ad networks, Gourmet Ads is non-exclusive with our publishers which means you can run other networks. However, we do ask that you provide us an equal allocation to any other network running within your adserver.

Publishers using their own ad server typically fall into one of these categories:

  • They have an internal sales team and using Gourmet Ads as part of the ad serving cycle.
  • They use geo-targeting, (i.e. running Gourmet Ads in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ, and other providers in the other countries).
  • The need to run a different ad provider in each category of the site (ie: Gourmet Ads in the food section and another provider in each category such as auto, travel, small business, etc.).
  • They prefer to use multiple sources of advertising.

If you need an ad server

The ability to run multiple ads from different providers will be very appealing to some Publishers. We personally don’t recommend any one ad server to our Publishers, but here are a few ad-server related links to help you navigate the next step.

How to create a food site advertisers love

It seems every food blog template, or site theme is the same. Content on the left hand side and a 160×600 ad on the right hand side. These types of themes being so widely used has created a significant excess of 160×600 ads, causing the size to be considered undesirable by many media buyers.

If you’re creating a new food blog or redesigning your existing food blog, we’ve created a guide to help you create the type of site advertisers love. These tips will help you maximize your revenue and earnings.

What ad units make up the perfect food blog ?

300×250
Some call it the island ad, others call it the MREC, or medium rectangle. Whatever you call it, the 300 x 250 ad unit tends to be the best performing ad unit across Gourmet Ads. The 300×250 brings consistently high click through rates, post-click tracking and post impressions tracking for that ad unit. As a result, this is the number one requested ad size by advertisers. Unfortunately though, the majority of standard food blog designs do not even incorporate this highly sought after size.

If you want to maximize your revenue in a simple, consistent way. we recommend  having one 300×250 ad above the fold.

300×600
Much like the 300×250 ad, the 300×600 is also a top performer. Because there are limited advertisers using the 300×600 right now, we suggest designing your food blog to run the 300×600 in the same space as the 300×250 pushing down the content in it is place when it runs. We do this on www.tastydays.com and it has been a very effective strategy in using both sizes concurrently using our ad server. The 300×600 is also one of our highest-priced ad units and, when run across all pages, can provide significant revenue. Once again we highly recommend having one 300×600 sized ad above the fold.

728×90
Our second most requested size, the 728×90 or leaderboard is commonly used on major sites, but has been left out of standard food blog designs for some time. The leaderboard receives strong click-through and is regularly requested by advertisers. We highly recommend having one 728×90 sized ad above the fold.

Background Skin
Not essential, but one of our top earners for Publishers, the background skin is relatively easily to implement. When designing your food blog, either use a background that can be easily changed or have a white image behind all of your content. When running an advertising campaign using a background skin, we simply provide you an ad tag which will require you to add background skins into your site template. Your web designer may need to understand CSS to ensure background skins work correctly, but Gourmet Ads can provide sample code for testing.

Share these tips with your designer

If you’re redesigning your food blog, or creating a new food blog, feel free to send this article to your designer so they can understand, from a revenue perspective, the most important elements of your design. For all ad sizes, Gourmet Ads can provide sample code for testing.

Additional tips

Finally, if you’re running a food blog, make sure that you run on your own domain and not on sub domain of a blogging platform. For more information see this article on how to get your own domain name.

If you’d like to learn more about web monetization strategies, Gourmet Ads has developed a comprehensive revenue maximization guide here.

Why you need your own domain name

When it comes to a domain name, we’re constantly perplexed as to why food bloggers in particular insist on using free blogging platforms which leave their food blog as “myfoodsite.blogspot.com”, “myblog.wordpress.com” or “cookingwithme.typepad.com”. There is no doubt that the all of these blogging platforms are commonly used, but there are many important reasons why you should dump your subdomain and get your own domain name.

Your food blog is your brand
Food blogs should be treated like a brand, and a domain name is essential to building your food blog brand. By establishing your food blog with a domain name like “www.foodblogname.com” you’re supporting your brand. You’re making it easier for people to find and share. Like with all brands, the intellectual property becomes an asset of your brand, while using the subdomains add no real value.

Be taken seriously
All serious bloggers want to be taken seriously, and running your site on a free blogging platform doesn’t provide any real credibility to advertisers or advertising agencies. It sends a signal that you’re not in it for the long haul because you’ve never taken the steps to formalizing your blog with a domain name. We want to ensure your hard work pays off, and will no longer accept food blogs without an original domain name.

Audience numbers
Around the globe, audience measurement tools used by media buyers analyze the audience numbers on a domain-by-domain basis. As a result, when you use a subdomains, your audience is bundled into that website’s top level domain name. For example: “foodblog.blogspot.com” will only aggregate the audience of “.blogspot.com” instead of individually counting your site. So, from an audience measuring perspective, your site will lose its ranking without a dedicated domain name.

Cost of a domain name
An average “.com” domain name should cost around $10 for a two year registration (your domain registration should be renewed annually to keep it current). If you require it, web hosting averages $100 per year. Domain and hositing site www.godaddy.com provides domain registrations, as well as a wide range of blog hosting platforms.

SEO advantages
By having your own domain, there are tremendous advantages from an SEO perspective. You’ll reap the long term rewards when people link to you, but when someone links to a sub domain, the top level domain reaps the benefits.

 

Place your ads above-the-fold

Why above-the-fold?

The term above-the-fold advertising is a design concept that was used in placing important news stories or stunning photographs on the front page of newspapers. When newspapers are delivered to readers, they are usually folded in half, making only the upper half of the front page visible. Knowing this, graphic designers would place the headlines or photos that were most likely to make readers dive into the paper on this area, above-the-fold of the front page. Today, the term is used to refer to the most lucrative advertising space on a website – the portion of the site that is visible as soon as a visitor navigates to the page.

For Publishers, above-the-fold advertising space is the most important place on your site – see this article on positioning your ad units. Advertisers are willing to buy more ads, and pay more money for ads placed above-the-fold. The basic reasoning behind this is that customers who do not look anywhere else on a site will likely view above-the-fold ads. This leads to a greater number of page impressions and a higher click-through rate. Some advertisers value this space so highly that they are only willing to work with sites that agree to place their ads in the coveted above-the-fold advertising space.

Gourmet Ads contributes the success of above-the-fold advertising by serving our ads from a highly efficient server that ensures that ads pre-load, which allows viewers to see the ad before they see anything else on the page. Advertisers look favorably on this type of advertising, because customers are willing to look at an ad while they wait for the rest of the page to load. This gives advertisers the time they need to make a lasting impression on potential customers.

Above-the-fold ads mean more views and greater revenue

For Publishers, placing Gourmet Ads-served advertisements in above-the-fold locations can lead to more views, and a higher click-through rate that will make your page more valuable to our customers. Gourmet Ads’ ad server monitors incoming visitors to determine the type of browser they are using, their screen resolution, and the size of the monitor the ad is being viewed on so that visitors get the best possible experience each time they visit. Not only does above-the-fold advertising improve the value of placing ads on your site, it also appeals to customers who will see a professionally designed ad on your page as they enter.

Above-the-fold advertising is a win-win situation for Publishers and advertisers. Above-the-fold advertisements create the type of traffic that drives sales and increases revenue-targeted views that encourage customers to click through and find out more. By placing Gourmet Ads advertisements in your above-the-fold advertising space, you can help bring in the clicks that will make your site more profitable and make advertisers more willing to place ads on your website.

Why having fewer ads per page is better

The Gourmet Ads Publishers eligibility criteria states that a Publisher have a maximum of 3 ads on a page. This can be quite contentious and hard to understand, which is why we’ve created a video about the topic. Some Publishers believe that if they have 3 ads on a page and add one more there revenue will jump 25%. This theory is unfortunately not true. Conversely, the more ads on a page the less value that page creates. Advertisers like pages where their advertising is the only ad on the page like the RecipeBridge Homepage.

 

So why does Gourmet Ads have a maximum of 3 ads per page policy?

Technology monitoring:
Advertisers use a myriad of monitoring and targeting technology baked into campaign ad tags to identify where their ads are running, how many ads are running on the same page, and many other data points in relation to campaigns.  After a campaign launches we are provided a list of Publisher URLs the advertiser to would like us to remove from a campaign, and oftentimes those sites are removed because there are too many competing ads on a page.

Maximum performance for advertisers:
Less clutter allows ads to stand out and perform. Advertisers want you to click on their ad or engage with it in some way shape or form so minimizing competition is the goal.

Ensures viewability:
Viewability is a measurement metric which is really important to Advertisers . It’s the rate at when the ads on your page are “in-view” – learn more about Viewability

Provide competitive separation for advertisers:
Advertisers love when they are the only ad on the page. When there are several ads units on a page, the more likely a competitor will also appear on the page.

3 ads on a page is industry standard

As you will see from the video above, major food sites have a maximum of 2 or 3 ads per page. Some either have only 2 ads above-the-fold, or 2 ads above-the-fold and one below-the-fold.

So in summary, if you’ve got more than 3 ads on a page, you’re likely to earn less revenue and be less in demand by advertisers. So now is the time to get in line with industry standard and stick to a 3 advertisements per page. Check out this article on  positioning your ad units which will help understand where to place your ad units on pages in more detail.

Why the 300×600 is a must for your site

Why Gourmet Ads encourages Publishers to accept the 300×600

Most Publishers have designed their site to suit the advertising unit the 300×250, known around the world as MREC, Medium Rectangle or Big Box. Out of our three standard IAB units the 300×250 is, generally speaking, the best performing for advertisers, which is why we recommend that Publishers implement a 300×250 above-the-fold and one below-the-fold.

Recently, our advertisers have demanded an additional IAB size, the 300×600. The 300×600 is just over double the size of the 300×250 and, from a design and implementation perspective, go hand in hand with the 300×250. Advertisers love the 300×600, not only does it perform better than other units, there is effectively more real estate on the 300×600 to get the branding message across.

Implementing a 300×600 and 300×250 ad tag

We like to provide Gourmet Ads Publishers the best of both worlds which provides additional revenue opportunities. Which means, that providing your site can run the 300×250 ad unit, it should be able to run the 300×600 concurrently using a single ad tag. Our ad server will make a choice on the fly, as the page loads if it should serve a 300×600 or a 300×250 ad. By default we will try and fill the 300×600 as it pays approx. 20% higher CPM to Publishers than the 300×250.

Become a Gourmet Ads Publisher and be sure to accept the 300×600 in your Publisher Console.