You have the option with Google AdSense (and other contextual ad services) to tweak your text ad units’ background colors and border colors, in an effort to boost their visibility to users and encourage clicks. Are you absolutely sure you know what color combinations work best, and which work worst?
We ran a test on HubPages, and looked at the sidebar ad zone installed to the right of the main body of content. We set YieldBuild to try a large number of background and border color permutations. We expected a white background with white border (i.e. blended into the background, since our page background is white) to perform best.
It didn’t do bad at all. At 3.58%, it was far better than the worst combination, which fared a miserable 0.89%. However, it was bested by a light-yellow background with a dark-gold border.
The yellow & gold combination came in at a little over 4%, or 13% better than the white-white combination.
What else is worth noting is that there doesn’t seem to be a clear, simple pattern. Looking at the results of this test, you can’t say that light and subtle, or bright and garish, work better. Who would have thought that a light-yellow background with dark-gold border would perform so well, while a medium-yellow background and light-yellow border would perform so poorly?
A very light beige background also performed substantially more poorly (2.46% CTR) than a white background.
The lesson here is that it’s often difficult to rely on rules of thumb if you want to tweak your ads’ background and border colors using intuition alone. The only way to arrive at the optimum combination is to test, test, and test.