Takeover Ads Improvements

Below I will explain why the current takeover ads formats/displays are doomed to fail and will lead to many users who will block them (or just leave the platform as a result of bad user experience), and advertisers who won’t get the wanted clickthrough rates and quality traffic.

Especially the new search takeover ads are annoying and ineffective (as I will show you), but for the homepage takeover, there are also many reasons why it’s better to stop them.

Of course, monetization via advertising is needed but there are many other ways to give advertisers methods to “take over” the platform by showing their ads at many places.

So, let me start with the homepage takeover…

Afaik, the original idea came after the possibility to give users the possibility to show (and choose for) “full page image backgrounds” (you remember the “image competition”).

The homepage takeover is an “expansion” allowing advertisers to “compose” their own image background (with the option to add text/logos/images on top of the background), where the actual ad consists of an ad box consisting of a “transparent overlay” text with CTA (call to action) button in the left bottom corner of the homepage (for PCs).

(Actually, the position of this “ad box” can also be in the middle or right bottom, if smaller devices are being used as laptops, tablets, or mobiles)

Now… what’s the main problem?

Because the background image covers the full screen, the image and ad box should perfectly fit in with the additional “Presearch content” placed on top of this image. (You know placed “around” the Presearch content elements to avoid overlapping, and by using contrasting colors to make everything visible)

For the homepage, this Presearch content elements (currently) consist of:

  • Presearch Logo
  • Search Engine search bar
  • Search your Favorite Provider Site text
  • Provider Sites icons (and settings)
  • User navigation/settings
  • Social media icons

Unfortunately, users will use different devices (PCs, laptops, tablets, mobiles) and prefer portrait or landscape view.

So, there is no background image that fits in properly for all devices… except a single background color (without text/images).

Below are some examples for different devices, and you’ll immediately see the problem.

This is an example of a chosen background image with as result that the navigation is not visible due to the colors used in the background image. And do you see any rowboats? This is a background image of a rowboat…

Same search result but now scrolled down a little…

This is an example where the advertisers’ add message is placed at the TOP (almost invisible) and the “ad box” at the BOTTOM (so divided by the search results content) and where the ad box and navigation are almost overlapping… resulting in a bad user experience. Also, note that after scrolling down… the original main “image message” is not visible anymore… only the ad box.

(Note: Do you see the difference between the floating NordVPN ad text at the bottom and the regular “own” blue Preseard ad as part of the content? Which one is probably more effective?)

Often the advertisers’ text (on the background image) will disappear on smaller devices… resulting in a CTA with a button that makes no sense as it refers to the main advertiser’s message on the image.

Also, especially if background images are being used with all kinds of colors… there will be Presearch content elements that won’t be visible anymore.

(And yes, advertisers may create “day” and “night” versions but for example for the Search provider icons… some are dark and others are “white”)

(Here two Search Provider icons are not visible as the icons are black on a black background)

Of course, the 'ad and creative" team may (and will) assist advertisers to help to “minimize” these effects… but often the homepage takeover will look awful on smaller devices… especially as by definition the regular Presearch content elements should be visible… and will take relatively much more space on smaller screens… and hence will overlap the ad image/content.

And now you can argue… the homepage takeover is unique and Presearch is the only one offering this “art-style” advertising opportunity… but all that counts for advertisers is “conversions”… and smart advertisers will skip the mobile versions as these won’t convert as their message isn’t clearly visible on these devices.

But what’s most frustrating for me…

It’s not that the team tries to monetize… but by allowing full-page overtakes… the team restricts itself to adding more relevant content about Presearch itself to the homepage.

And what do I mean by relevant content?

For me, one of the main goals of the homepage is to give potential new users a quick overview of what Presearch is all about… by giving away your “soul and identity” to advertisers… these advertisers grab more attention than the Presearch platform itself.

I have seen homepage takeover ads… when first-time visitors probably thought that they visited the advertiser’s website instead of Presearch. Just an example…

Just look at DDG, and see how they “promote” their own platform on their homepage… new visitors immediately see what the main benefits are for using DDG…

For Presearch the visitor has to click on the menu item… scroll to the bottom to the About section… and visit the .io website (should I say more?)

OK, so far the homepage takeover…

What about the Search Page takeover?

Well, the described problem is even bigger as on the Result pages there is way more Presearch content… all the search results (and keyword staking ads).

As a result, there is just no space left for the background image to show the advertiser’s message as on top of this message… users will see the search results.

Even worse… the transparent “ad box” is floating at the bottom and often overlaps the search results (or the navigation to the “next search pages”).

(And as explained… the ad box is now a standalone CTA without showing the advertisers’ main message on the background image).

So, search takeovers via full-page background images are a very bad idea… no matter what the designers try to do to decrease the effects… on smaller devices… there is just not sufficient space to properly show the background image.

Let alone, that this image will often have a negative effect on the “visibility” of (navigation) elements.

So, what’s the solution?

Just skip the whole full-page background image ad idea, and replace it with the common often used fixed-sized banner ads that are strategically placed on the homepage and search result page and don’t overlap any (Presearch platform) content but integrated into the platform (homepage and search results) content.

Just as other blogs and content providers do…

And please make adjustments to the homepage and use it for your own branding/promoting instead of “selling your soul/identity”.

This also means that the default background image should not be an image at all… but just the current (restful for the eyes) background color that users will see when they toggle off “Show backgrounds” (maybe this is already the default setting).

1 Like

Thank you for the comments regarding ad quality. We’ve paused mobile ads and search takeover ads atm to do a design & UX sprint based on initial feedback over the weekend. Here are the biggest takeaways and issues we’re addressing.

  1. It’s not intuitive how to deactivate the ads. I think that’s the most common comment

  2. We need a frequency cap for ads. We only had a few ads live over the weekend to test them and unintended consequence was that these ads were viewed much more than desired for those searching this weekend.

  3. We need a better QA process for ads. There are a lot of devices and wide variety of screen sizes to support. Most of the screenshots shared of issues were mobile.

I wanted to convey the main points related to advertising comments I’ve seen. Please feel free to add additional comments to me in this group, me directly here, or via email (ed@presearch.com). Thanks! -Ed