Text advertisements e.g. AdSense - open links in same or new window

16 Apr 2009 - 2:17am
7 years ago
7 replies
1820 reads
Ruairi Doyle

Hi there, this is my first post - grateful for any feedback.

What are people's thoughts about text links e.g. Google AdSense on websites
- should these links open in the same window or a new browser window?

We have deployed AdSense across a number of newspaper websites and see some
benchmarks opening in new windows and others in the same window. Right now
we are opening in the same browser window - the methodology of this is so as
not to take over the users browser and allow them to stay in control of the
back button facility.

The Google feedback is open in new window - but they do not think either or
has a significant impact on revenue performance.

Looking forward to your feedback.

Best regards


Ruairi Doyle
Project Manager

Independent Digital
2nd Floor, Independent House,
27-32 Talbot Street,
Dublin 1.

Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Limited Registered Office is 27-32 Talbot
Street, Dublin 1. Registered company number 153066.

Tel: +353 1 705 5873
Mobile: +353 86 88 00 555
Fax: +353 1 705 5892

Email: rdoyle at independent-digital.com


16 Apr 2009 - 4:24am
Alex Horstmann

Hey Ruairi,

My recommendation would be to open the links in the same browser
window. As you say yourself, it leaves the user in control of their
browser and they can always use the back button to get back to your

In testing we've done users are completely comfortable using the
back button if they go to a page they didn't expect. While there was
a mixed reaction to pop-up windows, in general, they were looked on

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16 Apr 2009 - 8:15am
Aditya Saxena

Having encountered such situations before, I do not hold any
particular choice over the other but that depends on how you see your
target users.

Browsers like Firefox, IE7 & IE8 supports tab functionality. While
users of these browsers are entitled to a learning curve where they
have to switch between different tabs, it is not much to ask if we
open ads in a new browser window (i.e. new tab).

@Alex: Hence, I beg to differ if those new windows would seem like a
popup to the user.

@Ruairi: Now Ruairi, as far as your issue is concerned, I feel that
users first visit the websites & then, the advertisements present on
them. Hence, their primary purpose is to visit the website.
Therefore, if related advertisements take them to a new window, it
should be perfectly fine (considering the new browsers' point that I
mentioned above).

Users should have control of their browser, true, but where are we
snatching it in opening links in a new window.

Think over and decide. However, my opinion is to open advertisements
in a new window.

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16 Apr 2009 - 10:51am
Jack L. Moffett


This issue was discussed previously here: http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=33611
in great detail. The thread may have some answers for you.


Jack L. Moffett
Senior Interaction Designer
412.459.0310 x219

First, recognize that the ‘right’ requirements
are in principle unknowable by users, customers
and designers at the start.

Devise the design process, and the formal
agreement between designers and customers and users,
to be sensitive to what is learnt by any of the
parties as the design evolves.

- J.C. Jones

16 Apr 2009 - 10:59am

It depends how you balance your user vs business goals. It's a
strategic issue, because you send your visitors to another site
potentially never to return again.

If your balance is on the usability side, then don't annoy the user:
open in same window/tab, so you give the control to the user. Advanced
users will right-click/ open in a new window/tab anyway. Other users
will use the back button to return to your site.

However, we are talking AdSense here. Here are some things to
How will you integrate the ads in your site? How important is PPC ad
revenue versus users leaving your site? Will you 'disguise' ads in
some way, or make it very clear that they are ads?

If your design is such that you run the risk that users think text
links go to content on your site, then open in a new window/tab. If
you choose to explicitally place a header saying "advertisements"
above the links, then most users would probably expect those ad links
to open in a new window. Depending on where/when these ad links are
shown, consider mentioning "these ads will open in a new window" as
a compromise between ad revenue and maintaining usability/goodwill
towards your site. If you go for the more disguised/deceiving
approach then you should open in a new window/tab.

Ads should be usable too, or users will only click once or never
return to your site. Make sure you adapt your design to match user
expectations so you don't annoy them. Do some usability testing or
A/B testing.

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16 Apr 2009 - 11:33am
Frank Long

hi Ruairi,

In my experience, opening a new tab is preferential in this
situation. It allows the user to maintain their place in the paper
while checking out the ad. The ad links can take the user on a side
journey with several pages before they decide that they want to
return to reading the paper. In this case hitting the back button
multiple times to get to where they were is not ideal.

>From the Indo's perspective, you also want to keep users on the site
- and facilitate their return after reading the ad.

PS - did you ever conduct the user testing we discussed last year?

just curious


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16 Apr 2009 - 11:57am
Alex Horstmann

Interesting discussion!

The vast majority of users understand online adverts, especially
AdSense ads by their very look and feel, and understand that they
will be brought elsewhere.

This means that they have made a conscious decision to click on a
link that they know will take them somewhere else - they have decided
to end their visit to your site and click on the advert.

If they want to return to your site they will use the back button, a
bookmark, a search engine or type in the address directly - with the
back button being the most used. With that in mind, a new window
breaks the flow and requires the user to think more about getting
back to you site (without having to hunt for the original

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16 Apr 2009 - 11:36am
Martin Donaldson

Im in my 60's (Yikes!); I'm on an old laptop without a scrollwheel;
my reading glasses are broken and one lens is missing.

I'm trying to read this discussion but the text is too small. I know
enough to try View>Text Size>Largest ... but of course that doesn't
make any difference.

I also know that I can Ctrl and ScrollWheel, but I don't have one.

I go to IE7's "Help" -- which I also can't read since they don't
have font size adjustment buttons and look for zoom. I find it with my
one half-working eye and it tells me to do the following ... "On the
bottom right of the Internet Explorer screen, click the arrow to the
right of the Change Zoom Level button"

I don't have a Change Zoom Level button on my IE7 screen.

Fortunately it's time for my nap -- those of us over 60 do that most
of the time, don't you know. :-)

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