I decided to spend about $20.00 to buy some banner advertising on BlogExplosion and BlogClicker and you can see the results below.
I created seven banners and put identical copies of each on both BlogExplosion and BlogClicker to see how well I could push internet readers to this blog. I wanted to test the success of my banner designs in the real world. The test ran for a week. 

I played around with BlogExplosion a bit before I decided to officially
write this article so some of the impression rates are not equalized
over all the banners. That isn’t terribly important because
BlogExplosion provides Clik thru % that determines ad impression
success. BlogClicker, on the other hand, does not provide Click thru %
based on an algorithm so I was more careful in trying to give those
banner ads more uniform impression equalization.

 A Note on Banner Design: I am not a banner advertising fan.
I don’t like animation. I don’t like giant ideas crammed into a “468×60
standard banner image size” rectangle. I live for AdBlock in Firefox. I
despise how some bloggers misuse or over-use Google Adsense by paving
the radical, untamed, plains with coin.

I do, however, enjoy designing
banners. I like quiet banners that let the viewer “finish” the
advertisement in their head in sort of a puzzle-solving way. So here
are the seven, plain, black and white, banner ads I created. I was
surprised how well some of them did and I was disappointed in how
poorly some of them performed. All the banner ads took readers directly
to the category page they were advertising and all the statistics were
generated by the ad banner server system.

Shown = 2572; Clicks = 20; Clik thru % = 0.78%

Impressions = 1056; Clicks = 1

This banner ad did really went over the
first 500 impressions on BlogExplosion with over a 90% Click thru
return then it slowed down a bit. On BlogClicker the banner died.

 Urban Semiotic SuperGenius Banner Ad

Shown = 4478; Clicks = 27; Clik thru % = 0.60%

Impressions = 1050; Clicks = 3

I created this ad first and ran it a lot on
BlogExplosion where it delivered 95% Click thru rates over the first
2,000 impressions. This was the second-best performing ad on
BlogClicker which isn’t saying much. I guess having a name — my name — can help sell a site because there is a personal ring of authenticity inspiring the click.

 Urban Semiotic David W. Boles Banner Ad

Shown = 1935; Clicks = 6; Clik thru % = 0.31%

Impressions = 1050; Clicks = 1

I had a hunch this ad would have done better
on both services. Revealing tips for how to do research and learn
online seemed like a hot topic but I see now no one was really
interested in touching in on the ad. This return informs the future
direction of posts for my blog.

 Urban Semiotic Power Scholar Banner Ad

Shown = 1858; Clicks = 14; Clik thru % = 0.75%

Impressions = 1077; Clicks = 4

This ad slowly picked up clicks on
BlogExplosion and, again, that was surprising. I thought “writing”
would get slammin’ hits from the jump but it didn’t happen. In the last
day or so traffic picked up a bit. On BlogClicker this was my most
successful ad of all — which still isn’t saying much. I find that
curious in a good way.

 Urban Semiotic Writing Banner Ad

Shown = 1571; Clicks = 7; Clik thru % = 0.45%

Impressions = 1078; Clicks = 2

When I built this add I thought I was
conjuring fire! The design of three words is unique compared to the
others but it just didn’t do well. Perhaps “Core of Us” is not clear
enough intent to warrant a click? Compared to come of the other banners
I put up on BlogClicker this one did okay.

 Urban Semiotic Core of Us Banner Ad

Shown = 2091; Clicks = 5; Clik thru % = 0.24%

Impressions = 1056; Clicks = 1

If I had a dog, I’d name it “Technology”
because this ad was a mutt from conception! “Core of Us” played better
than “Technology” and it was the poorest performer on BlogExplosion by
a mile. On BlogClicker this ad tied for fourth place. Are we burned out
on technology? Is “Technology” a dead buzz-word? Perhaps “Technology”
is too general a topic to entice a click? My technology articles are
some of the most popular stuff I post so there is an obvious disconnect
between content and “Clik thru” banner ads! Be wary of loose

 Urban Semiotic Technology Banner Ad

Shown = 2974; Clicks = 27; Clik thru % = 0.91%

Impressions = 1073; Clicks = 2

This ad was the original logo for my blog that only appeared here online
in its original form. I “blew it up” to 468×60 size and put it on
BlogExplosion and BlogClicker as a control ad just to see what kind of
response I would get with a semi-color, full-text, ad that was less
readable than the black and white puzzle piece banner ads that came
before. I couldn’t believe the high, sustained, Clik thru rate of
0.91%! This banner was a winner from the instant it was approved for
circulation. I find “Urban Semiotic” fuzzier and less clear than “Core
of Us” but this logo won the day, cemented my heart and got me to
thinking I should finally incorporate its success in this blog, proper!
Perhaps this article will slake that thirst. On BlogClicker, however,
this ad only tied for third best with an ever-dreadful 2 clicks.

 Urban Semiotic Logo Banner Ad

This test of banner advertising design success and failure on
BlogExplosion and BlogClicker taught me more about my blog in a week
than seeing which articles were most popular over the last six month
ever did. This mixed-methods, quasi-experimental, research project
demonstrated how advertising can help shape the intent and direction of
a blog if you allow your readers lead you to their spontaneous wants.
The re-design of the next generation of banner ads for this blog will
be an even more interesting exercise in enticement.


  1. Thank you for the information — I’ve been wondering if blogexplosion’s banners paid off! (FYI: the Urban Semiotic in script ad is the one that lured me here)

  2. Hi Editrix —
    Thanks for clicking through! I appreciate knowing how you arrived and your feedback is valuable.
    BlogExplosion’s banner ads program is awfully good and if you decide to purchase impressions you can get 12,500 impressions for only $5.00. I believe that is money well-spent.
    I wish there were a way I could release my banners by day part — say fire 1,000 impressions a day — but drill it down to 275 between 8am-10am Eastern, 350 between 3pm-6pm, the rest between 9pm-Midnight.
    That would allow me to set my “buy” once for a day without having to re-load impression releases in dribbles during the day.
    Also, being able to set up and release a long-term day and time banner impression schedule by the week would also be nice: Set it and forget it!

  3. Very interesting article. What amazes me is that anyone clicks on banners at all. I have never clicked on one. I’ll say this though: I noticed your banners and consider them to be the best I’ve seen – very clear, arresting and distinctive. But click on them? Nah, not when I have to click on millions of blogs to earn a few credits…

  4. Gone —
    I’m not a big ad-clickee, either, but banner ads do drive traffic, so someone is clicking to find out what lurks behind the banner.
    Thanks for the good words on the banner design and next time, CLICK THROUGH! SMILE!

  5. Here’s me and my take on your banners….
    #1 I like girlie blogs and blogs about personal daily stuff and of course about pets. So, if I see a blog banner that is girlie, I usually click on it. I also click on banners that I think are original and different just to see if the banner was actually made by someone else and their blog is just a regular blogger template with no original thought. Even a blog post about doing the dishes can be fun and interesting if it is blogged well..
    I saw your banners and the first thing I thought was that it was original and because I had offered on my blog to make banners for others I had a few requests to make some banners like your design. Kudo’s on inspiring someone
    I personally liked Super Genius and your name banner and the green script banner. Those are the three I clicked on.
    I knew the others were you as well so I did not click on them forwhat they said, Technology, Core of us, Writing.. While they were original, they were not words that moved me, then again as you’ve read in my brief about me opening paragraph above, you’ll know I’m looking for girlie stuff so something that says Technology wouldn’t pull me in.
    This is my banner info
    personal blog = banner impressions 32246 click’s 409
    click thru % 1.27%
    pets blog
    banner impressions 5982 click’s 42
    click thru % 0.70%
    photo blog
    banner impressions 5226 click’s 50
    click thru % 0.96%
    At the time I started doing a little research as well. I would rotate banners with my website name on them and as I said before, certain people who like what I do would actually like my blog so knowing my blog, people might not click a banner. I made different banners for different posts, funny quotes etc. I got the most banner clicks with different banners. As long as it is different and new, people will click.
    You will get reads by those who click and for me this is the most important. People who see your banner over and over, might just go on past it and after a while of seeing you in toration might just click it and visit and enjoy what you have to say. I do it so I’m sure others do too.
    Anyways, enough from me, it’s late and I’m rambling but I had to comment when I saw your blog post. I also love the photo that is your header. It too looks orginal and not something that everyone else has which makes it more interesting

  6. Hey 🙂 Great article, well written and insightful.
    I did a simpler test on just the basic effort/reward for BlogExplosion, BlogClicker and Blogazoo, and found similar results though not quite so pronounced between BE and BC. I think basically BE is just more professional and has more unique traffic. Blogazoo is a joke and isn’t worth the time. One problem with your test though is there’s a fairly large overlap of users between BE and BC – so whichever ads got served first would have got a better click-through I imagine. Though probably not a huge deal.
    I’m not convinced it’s a good deal really. 12,500 impressions for $5, fine – but that click through rate is pretty terrible, and I don’t think building brand awareness on relatively small networks like the blog traffic sharers is really worth it (i.e. I’m well aware of Scott-a-rama or the Wideawakes without them having to advertise with banner ads) 🙂
    Again though, great article!! Thanks 🙂

  7. Hi Girl Pants —
    Wowser! I love your post! It is filled with excellent analysis and really good, quantifiable, information based on your experience.
    Thank you for taking the time to be specific and incredibly interesting!
    This site design is based on an award-winning WordPress template from http://vanillamist.com and I agree it all works really well.

  8. Dave —
    You make some great points.
    You are right about Blogger overlap on BlogExplosion and BlogClicker but my feeling from reading around is there is a hardcore group that hangs out ON ALL THE EXCHANGES (SMILE!) so bleed-over is part of the risk.
    I wanted to include BlogSoldiers in the test but that site didn’t seem to have even a blip of life.
    What would be a better rate to pay for 12,500 impressions?
    I agree the click-through rate was horrible but I know if I added some color, created more intrigue and some other things I have up my sleeve… I know the rate would go up.
    I just wanted a simple — curious, perhaps — plain and basic black and white set of banners to test.

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