Site Skins: Friend or Foe? Taking a Closer Look at the Polarizing Ad Product

By Celtra

Love it or hate it, everyone has an opinion on site skins. They’re high impact, high CPM, and (at times) highly annoying. This format has been around since the early dinosaur days of the internet and has fallen in and out of popularity with publishers ever since.

Then came 2020. Site traffic began to rise as more people were spending time online in the early days of the pandemic, and site skins started to pick up more popularity. 

Before eyes start to roll – we get that you may have been burned by skins in the past. (Seriously, we’ve all been there.) But the internet has changed. If done correctly, more publishers can find themselves lucky in love with site skins. After all, their performance metrics are off the charts. Keep reading to learn how to use site skins effectively and discover how this format is the ultimate cash cow. 

Taking the blinders off

The (not-so) elephant in the room is that site skins are “too much” and “too distracting.” While some can be downright bad, the truth is that not all formats are created equal. While smaller formats like scrollers and anchor units can lead with straightforward CTAs, that simply does not translate to skins. Skins need to work with the overall site design and content, otherwise, a skin can create a bad user experience. It’s like what Rick Byrne said in Designing Homepage Takeover Skins 101, “Skins should be thought of as part UX design and part advertising.” 

How to wow with site skins

The key is creating an entertaining user experience in an immersive environment rather than an overwhelming distraction. Of course, this varies from site to site. On gaming sites, viewers are used to visual entertainment so skin design can play in that space. On the other hand, a news site with a traditionalist audience may fare well with a more inconspicuous design.

To set site skins up for success, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • One-Day Takeovers: This format is excellent for event takeovers, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Super Bowl, or the Oscars. Publishers can take advantage of the exclusivity of a one-day event and create a themed experience that does not take away from the site itself.
  • Go Premium: It may be easy to request a site skin that picks up the same look and feel as a banner ad, but it doesn’t work. Repeating the same imagery and messaging as existing banners can lower the user’s perception of the brand and create a poor site experience. Instead, create an elevated design experience that can hold its own. 
  • Tailor-made Experience: Skins are not one-size-fits-all. When creating a skin, you must consider the dimensions of the site, content placement, and how all of that is affected on different screen sizes. Creating a custom skin for your site is crucial to ensuring a positive user experience.    

Get inspired with site skins by checking out Disney+ and KFC on Mediacorp

Reap the revenue

Site skins can provide publishers with the highest CPM (cost per mille), but why is that? Skins are an extra large canvas, they’re the biggest format publishers can offer, and they take up the most share of media. When publishers tap into site skins on one-day events, they can charge advertisers a premium CPM to access the most real estate on a high-traffic day (think of Vogue running a site skin on the night of the Met Gala). 

Top-end skins have the potential to deliver remarkable value. Although each publisher and advertiser relationship varies, skins can be charged a CPM between 200 – 500% of a standard above-the-fold leaderboard. 

Build premium, high-impact site skins with Celtra

Meet Creative Automation for Media – now with Site Skins

Now you can outsource site skin creation to Celtra for a truly premium, high-impact experience. This means that our team will work with you to create a tailored, form-fitted skin made properly so you can maintain a good CLS score. Build better, more creative site skins and consolidate your entire ad product suite into our one platform with a streamlined approach to production, trafficking, and analytics for all products. 

Ready to run one-of-a-kind takeovers with Celtra Skins? Send us a note to learn more, or get in touch with your customer success team member today.  

Stay creative and listen to an episode of our Media-Side podcast, like The Future of Advertising: Prioritize the User or Putting Joy and Understanding Back into Ad Experiences

Site Skins: Friend or Foe? Taking a Closer Look at the Polarizing Ad Product

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