Is ad space in the top part of a web page worth more than space you have to scroll to see? That’s the question posed recently on an advertising broker’s member forum I frequent.
Many ad brokers require that you place their ads in the non-scrolling upper part of your page (this is called “above the fold” which harkens back to the old newspaper/print advertising days. You know, like last week…) Anyway, there are lots of legitimate, professional-looking ads on the internet, along with the flurry of white teeth/get ripped/diet ads that plague even the best websites. Ad brokers, which many website publishers use, often don’t distinguish between these types of ads and lump them all together in the same pool. When publishers use the brokers, they could as easily get an Apple I-Pad advertisement as some squirrely Acai Berry diet supplement.
So, the brokers don’t value the “above the fold” space any differently than the rest of the site so they must think it isn’t valuable. But if that’s so, then why do they insist on having their ads up there?
When designing a website, you want to make sure to communicate a few things easily and quickly — your message, how to work the site, and what you want the visitor to do next. You need to do that stuff in the “above the fold” space, because otherwise the visitor will just leave. So how does advertising space fit in there?
An advertising broker forum where this topic first came up has rules about what you can say there, so I thought I’d bring up the topic here. What do you think – is there a difference in value above the fold? Should advertisers reflect that with quality/rate?