9 things you should (should not) use in 125×125 slot

All of the sites in this post had perished in years since.

125×125 banner (some call it button to escape ad-word) is considered somewhat iconic for blogs. I have honestly no idea why and that doesn’t interest me much… But I am very interested in how can it bring me more readers. I mentioned that I am going to test few things and promised to post results so here they are.

What are benefits of 125×125 spot?

  • it has nice form – square, not too big, not too small;
  • it’s easy to compose blocks of few 125×125;
  • it is less affected by banner blindness (supposedly).

What was I looking for?

I don’t really want to sell advertisement (for now, I do consider monetizing part of “serious blog” experience). I am much more interested in:

  • building traffic to my blog
  • building traffic to my blog that doesn’t make me work like a slave to keep it flowing

Smart words

  • Pageview – loading of single page by visitor.
  • Impression – showing of single banner to visitor. So with one banner one pageview equals one impression.
  • Click-through rate (CTR) – percent of visitors that clicked ad. So 100 impressions and 1 click equals 1% CTR.
  • Cost per mille (CPM) – price of 1000 impressions.
  • Ratio – what you give and what you get. For example 2:1 impression ratio means you must give two impressions to get one.
  • Network size – amount of sites in the network. The bigger the merrier. :)
  • Targeting – can you choose specific niches.
  • Affiliate – by making other people join with affiliate link you may get some bonuses like part of their traffic or impressions.

See end of post for table with all stats.

Entrecard

This one is cross between social network and advertisement network. It is based on credits.

You earn credits:

  • by visiting blogs and dropping (pressing drop link under Entrecard widget) = 1 credit
  • by receiving drops on your blog = 1 credit
  • when someone buys a day of advertisement in your widget = 25% of credits spend on ad purchase
  • buying them for cash from Entrecard developers

You can spend credits buying Entrecard ads on other blogs or doing whatever else with them – they are transferrable between Entrecard users.

Good:

  • relatively popular
  • working economy

Bad:

  • mass-droppers that only care about making maximum (300) amount of daily drops and not your blog;
  • penalty for disabling Entrecard ads in your blog;
  • it’s not really 125×125. Somewhat stupid to make 125×125 based widget that doesn’t fit into 125×125 spot.

I used Entrecard most and wrote part of this post even before I started to test rest of stuff. After completing all of it I erased what I wrote because my opinion about Entrecard greatly improved. There is plenty of bad press for it and people who preach that mass-dropping is only way to use it. Don’t listen to both – try for yourself. Drop where you read and check out those who drop on you. It’s not much traffic but it works.

PublicityWheel

PublicityWheel is a lottery. You pay with having widget in your blog and when visitors click it it raises your chances. You can win few days of advertisement across all blogs in chosen category on these widgets.

Good:

  • possibility to win lots of advertisement

Bad:

  • not square

I tried it and removed because of very slow loading speed. Later it got server upgrade so it’s faster now and I had actually won a spin (after I removed widget). Since I was targeting under populated computers category it brought me ~600 impressions and single visit (from developer). Not much.

SiteHoppin

This is actually bunch of different services that look like creation of person that has tons of ideas but can’t decide which are good ones. The one 125-related is BeerWidget. It is click exchange – you get visitors by visitors clicking widget.

Good:

  • promises excellent traffic exchange ratio

Bad:

  • no exchanging impressions

Unstable, full of bugs and when I found page listing most active users it turned out there are like ten of them in total.

Spottt

Impressions exchange.

Good:

  • nice ratio

Bad:

  • they are too much into pink color :)

I registered account and waited for confirmation email. It didn’t come. Requested it again. It didn’t come. Wrote to support. After week or so received answer that they are looking into it. Even later received new email asking if I had received confirmation email – no. Few weeks since I registered and they are still looking into it.

125Exchange

Clicks exchange.

Good:

  • 5000 impressions signup bonus

Bad:

  • no impressions exchange

Registered, never received confirmation email. Common story.

Nuacco

Clicks and impressions exchange.

Good:

  • 10000 impressions signup bonus

Bad:

  • crappy ratio
  • seems to target adult sites

This one is just evil. Starting ratios are bad enough but after you join it turns out that you receive “bonus” which is actually penalty for making less than 0.51% CTR. Considering that average CTR in their network is 0.06-0.07% it means that all network is constantly penalized. I got over 15000 impressions and four clicks from that.

AdsFlip

Good:

  • text ads as well as graphic ones

Bad:

  • diluting ad format (not limited to 125×125)
  • downtimes

Got 1850 impressions and one click.

PerformancingAds

This one is advertisement network that targets blogs. They do everything – give you tools to publish ads, help sell them, offer affiliate program, etc.

Not much sales for beginner blogger but they offer impressions exchange. You show ads from network, get credits for that, spend credits to show ads in network.

Good:

  • excellent integration in blog, plugins available – they make it load very fast without need for java script
  • you are not limited to single spot

Bad:

  • bugs
  • zero customer support

This one is highly advertised and used on lots of blogs. But I got nothing except bunch of trouble from it. I had downtime, wrote to support, was ignored. I hadn’t figured out how to start impressions exchange, wrote to support, got ignored. Information on site is totally lacking. It seems to me this one was just setup for free hype (because of high affiliate payouts) and set to autopilot.

ViralBlogAds

Tried to register, got “Invalid email” message. Tried to contact support, got “Invalid email” message. Plus dumb captchas. Afraid of spam more than of losing publishers?

Overall

This stuff sucks. I had no illusions about value of exchange programs but results are simply terrible. CTR is extremely low, most are plagued by bugs, downtimes and zero support. I had formed an opinion that most of exchange programs are designed as passive income for developer and set to total autopilot.

Entrecard is best widget.

AdsFlip is best (relatively) impressions exchange.

Links and stats

Network Click ratio Impression ratio Network size Affiliate Targeting Signup bonus
Entrecard N/A N/A ~28000 N/A good N/A
PublicityWheel N/A N/A no data 20 points bad N/A
SiteHoppin 1:5 N/A tiny 10% traffic decent credits
Spott N/A 4:3 thousands N/A N/A N/A
125Exchange 3:2 N/A ~4000 10% traffic good 5000 impressions
Nuacco 2:1 2:1-100:1 tiny 10% earnings, clicks, impressions bad 10000 impressions
AdsFlip N/A varies no data 1000 credits decent 1000 credits
PerformancingAds N/A no data ~1500 10$ lead, 5% earnings decent 25000 credits
ViralBlogAds N/A no data no data 15% earnings decent N/A

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14 Comments

  • Wow, you did your homework on this one. Thanks for the warning about PerformancingAds and Nuacco.

    I read your bit on Entrecard with interest. I have found the single thing that works for me on EC is to return the drops made on my site. At present I am receiving between 240 and 300 drops a day. It takes a long time to return these drops but does this now make me a ‘mass dropper’. I did not know about the penalty for declining ads, will have to investigate this.

  • >Wow, you did your homework on this one

    It took some time. :) I mostly write my posts for current day but this was written by parts across few weeks.

    >Thanks for the warning about PerformancingAds and Nuacco.

    Well, performancing might work if you want to sell ads. I was looking for traffic and in that it totally failed.

    Nuacco works but is very misleading in some places. I prefer services that don’t try to deceive customer.

    >At present I am receiving between 240 and 300 drops a day. It takes a long time to return these drops but does this now make me a ‘mass dropper’.

    Light case of mass dropper probably. :) You are returning a drop, while some are looking for other things – like sites that load very fast so they can open-drop-close almost instantly.

    >I did not know about the penalty for declining ads, will have to investigate this.

    Hm, I worded that bit unclear. There is no penalty for declining applications for ads you get.

    But if you disable taking ads completely in settings – you get message that says your ranking is reduced. I think removing widget is going to get similar penalty but hadn’t checked.

  • Wow, this is very complete Rarst. Thanks for testing all of these and putting this test into a nice chart.

  • @Ben

    No problem. :) I doubt it is absolutely comprehensive (support and help information is mostly far from good as I mentioned in post) but still it compiled to nice overview of things to expect from such services.

  • Thanks for the explanation on the declining of ads. I suppose disabling ads completely would be the nice thing to do for a while before you quit EC. I definitely do not attend to keep working so hard for ever.

  • @Lyndi

    I was exploring possibility of removing widget to make visitors from Entrecard curious and look around site for it… But it seems system doesn’t really favor people who want to work with Entrecard without showing widget or receiving ads.

    Entrecard is wired to promote Entrecard, that’s part that made it popular.

  • Hi Rarst. Feel free to delete this post if the content is not appropriate.

    I read your post and hope to clarify a few things about 125Exchange.com. We tried to look up your account to see why you did not receive a confirmation email, but we can’t find your account. Please email your user name and we will look into this. The system sends an automatic confirmation email when an ad is approved and activated in the Exchange.

    The reason 125Exchange exchanges clicks as opposed impressions to two fold. First, clicks are what matters and impressions don’t really benefit the member bloggers. It is the clicks that create traffic to the blogs, not impressions. The more people click the member ads on your blog the more clicks the system will send to you. This is an incentive to place the ad code in a good location on your blog so it will attract more clicks, then you will receive more clicks.

    Second, some blogs use auto-refreshers and other programs to create vast amounts of false impressions. We have some blogs that generate 20,000 impressions per day and when we research their Alexa and Compete.com traffic statistics they have maybe 20 visitors per day. So if we exchanged impressions they would unjustifiably receive a ton of impressions. This would use up some impressions that could be attributed to other members that use the exchange fairly.

    One major feature of 125Exchange is the ability for members to improve the performance of their ads. Some ads get a lot more clicks than others and you never know until you experiment. If you expect good results in any form of advertising or promotion some experimentation is required. You can upload three different ads and monitor the results after a few thousand impressions to find which ad people clicked the most. We suggest to keep removing underperforming ads and uploading different ads until your clicks to impressions ratio maximizes. Then, if you place the best ads in other exchanges or paid advertising you will know that your advertising is performing at its best.

    125Exchange has 4,000 members and adds approx. 10 new members per day. The Exchange generates about 1 Million impressions per day. It is a free service and we do not monetize the Exchange. We respond to all email within 24 hours.

    Thanks,
    -Granny

  • >Feel free to delete this post if the content is not appropriate.

    Why should I? :) Thanks for visiting and giving feedback on my mini-review.

    >Please email your user name and we will look into this.

    I registered as Rarst. I am bit exhausted from playing with all these services in post, so I make no promises on trying 125exchange (for now).

    On clicks/impressions issue – why not have both? :) Cheaters are an argument but they can fake clicks as well as impressions.

    >One major feature of 125Exchange is the ability for members to improve the performance of their ads.

    Good but not unique. All of exchanges give stats and some allow to setup multiply banners.

    >125Exchange has 4,000 members

    Thanks for number, I’ll add it to the table.

  • This is a great post. 125×125 ads are common on blogs but I’ve found that the exchange programs don’t really work well. I used Entrecard for a bit but recently removed the widget because there were too many people gaming the system.

  • @Gyutae Park

    Yep, 125×125 ads are so common so bloggers are naturally interested in them and start looking at all this widget/exchange stuff. Unfortunately amount of value in that is pretty low.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. :)

  • Wow, this is the most comprehensive write-up on the subject of ad block maximization. Impressive research..

    I’m still trying to figure out how to include both performancingad & viralblogads into the OIO publisher.

    Yan

  • @Yan

    Not comprehensive enough because I wasn’t able to try few things on the list. Still negative experience is also experience.

    I like the concept of OIO publisher but I have to build up lot more traffic to sell advertisement and as you know I have bunch of trouble with PayPal. :(

    For now I am back to square one. Need to write that guest post I wanted to send you… Traffic from friendly blogs is only thing giving me at least some visitors at moment. :)

  • I tried using Performancing Ads but never received not one offer even though the prices I sometimes offered were really low. I kept looking at other top sites in my niche, and hardly any had any offers.

    I simply took Performancing Ads down and am waiting to put it up later on to see if I see a difference or not.

    I put Google Adsense in its spot and am making money off of that. =)

  • I had Google Adsense form the start but it’s honestly only to add serious touch to blog. :) Don’t have traffic wortwhile monetizing so far.

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