The rise of 125 x 125 ads

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Have you noticed that the hottest ad format for blogs is now those little square 125 x 125 ads? Sites like [TechCrunch](, [Mashable](, [Read/WriteWeb](, [GigaOm](, and [Marketing Pilgrim](, just to name a few have them plastered on the top right side of their blogs.

Many of these sites charge high amounts for a little 125 x 125 ad that is placed in non premium areas of the website. Thus, the ads do not really get the attention they deserve. If you are looking to advertise on these websites because of branding purposes, these 125 x 125 ads might work, but if you are looking for ads that convert these won’t unless you get really creative with them.

The ad pictured above is an ad for [Text Link Ads](; by getting creative they were able to increase their ad’s click through rate by 1000%. This shows that ads can be effective if advertisers get creative, but the majority of advertisers just don’t spend enough time creating creative ads. It seems like these ads are becoming a standard throughout the blogosphere, but unless companies become creative or bloggers lower their prices, these ad spots are not going to be beneficial to advertisers or get them the ROI that justifies their expense.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on these types of ads, does anybody else have any experience with them that they would like to share? I would also be curious to know how often these ads are clicked on, and / or if they have any measurable branding related benefits.

Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at... Read Full Bio
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  • Allen Stern

    Neil – my designer hates them. Thinks they are worthless. BlogKits is now making ads using that format (tho i think theirs are a bit longer) – I guess they came about as standard blog templates became more popular.
    I have used the Burst ad network since 1997 and they have always had the 125 format but barely anything was ever offered. Today there is one campaign in there paying about 2 cents.
    I think this format is popular with the new kids. It’s like using a trapper keeper vs a notebook.
    I am not sure the bigger old school companies will move to this format. They like their 300 box with flying out windows and so forth.
    I have 4 slots for the 125 ads. So far I think mine have worked well because they are inside the nav and integrated.

  • Neil Patel

    Allen, thanks for sharing your experience with 125 x 125 ads.

  • Chris Winfield

    Neil – spot on! The TLA ad is the only one that has ever stood out to me. It is so perfectly tailored to the TC audience and the difficulty that people have getting featured there. Also their choice of photos helped 😉

  • Allen Stern

    I do not like that ad – they could have picked a better pic 🙂 And rotate it sometimes!
    But then again, I don’t like visiting a blog only to see the person’s pic all the time (ala steve rubel)

  • Andy Beal

    I don’t believe any banner ads are particularly great for click-thrus – hence text ads becoming so hot. I try to push the branding aspects of the 125×125 as opposed to the actual CTR.
    I can tell you that there are many companies that are now on my radar because I have seen their brand associated with popular blogs.

  • Patrick Schaber

    Neil – good discussion starter! I’m not opposed to the 125×125 ad size. I’ve had success with smaller ads in the past. What I don’t like is how they’re grouped. When they’re bundled like I’ve seen often, I think the eye gets too much and diverts away.

  • Allen Stern

    Andy, I am pretty sure that more than half of the ads that are out there are for branding more than they are for click.

  • AdsBay

    Yes the grouping of these ads is horrible, but it is

  • Ralph Dagza

    I dont like img ads because most of them do not the color of my site

  • Rhea

    I definitely agree with the branding comments. From a retailers perspective I can say that we’ve never had a good return with banner ads in any shape, size or location unless it was highly targeted content in a specific niche location. That’s why the Text Link Ads banner worked so well, but you have to wonder whether the return was there. People that recognize the face want to see what’s behind the creative, but how many of them converted? I’d wager that the ad did very little other than branding unless there are some stats to show otherwise.

  • ilker

    they will soon be defunct as well.. there is only one point at which a user will like to see ads (in my view) is when they are going to buy something. for example, i am looking for a christina aguilera cd and maybe i will buy a cd of kylie minoque after seeing the ad! combine this with promitions, such as buy one cd get second half price, it will take off. otherwise, i ignore ads altogether.

  • MT

    These ads are there because of the high page view count of the sites you have mentioned. A site that barely gets 500 users per day is going to fail miserably with that format. Reason – simple – people just look at them and that’s it. So these ads don’t generate great clicks.

  • tony

    The 125 by 125 are quite friendly to the eye though.. Not quite intrusive rather… maybe that’s why it’s becoming popular. Unless it is a text ad, where CTR become more important, unobstrusive ads will be a more effective ad campaign…

  • Scotepi

    the internet has ads? i haven’t seen ANY in the last year or so

  • Yan

    I like 125 squares. Non-intrusive, versatile, good branding tool. Not sure about CTR. Grouping helps IMHO.

  • Sandro Paganotti

    I agree with Yan, 125×125 squares are non-intrusive and if the design behind the banner is good can catch more click than standard ads.

  • Luke

    This is the best size that has come to advertising. The points that you bring up in your article are completely false. Good Advertising works no matter what the size. If your ads do not work then you hired a terrible design and your ad does not have a concept. People are attracted to ads that are unique.
    Size doesn’t make ads work is the quality of the ad itself.
    You should take all your points and fire your designers if your ads do not work. Its that simple

  • Stan

    It’s funny, because the TLA ad is probably the ONLY banner ad I have EVER clicked on. 🙂 Maybe it is because I am not used to seeing the 125×125 ad that I noticed it. If you saw a rubix cube sitting in a room, would you notice it?