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AdSense Make Ad Units Less Clickable

Important news arrived in my inbox yesterday from AdSense (as I mentioned in yesterdays post). I didn’t initially publish it because it wasn’t public – but other bloggers have done so making my keeping to my agreement with Google not to write about it fairly pointless (one of the problems with NDAs I guess). So here goes.

The short of it is that AdSense making changes to text ads so that instead of getting clicks when people click anywhere on an ad unit (including the background of ads) clicks will only work (and we’ll only get paid) when there is a click on an actual title or URL in the ad.

Adsense-Clickzone

No longer valid are clicks on the background and clicks on the text that isn’t the title or URL in the ad.

The reasoning for this given by AdSense:

“We’re rolling out a change to our text ad formats to help reduce accidental clicks and increase value for advertisers…..This new format will match the changes we’ve implemented on Google.com to help decrease the number of accidental clicks and increase the number of ad conversions. A reduction in accidental clicks will keep users on your pages, interacting with your content until they choose to click on an ad. This change will enhance the user’s overall experience with your websites and improve advertiser campaign value, but it’s likely that your click-through rate will decrease.”

This is going to cause some debate among publishers. On the one hand this has the potential to hurt publishers in the short term at their bottom line as it’ll lead to less clicks. I know some publishers who are already emailing to say that they are very disappointed that AdSense have changed the rules.

On the flip side – there are some good things about this in terms of readers accidentally clicking ads. Good for readers, good for advertisers – which indirectly could be argued to be good for publishers.

Reminds me of when Chitika made the images in their ad units not clickable (because they were getting too high a CTR and costing advertisers too much). The uproar among publishers at that time was not pretty!

AdSense acknowledge that this change ‘may result in a RPM decrease for some publishers in the short term’ but say that they expect it to lead to increased spending by advertisers in the long run.

Again – I understand it – but I suspect that many publishers will look to other alternatives if they see a noticeable decrease in earnings.

update: AdSense have now announced the changes on their blog.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Tom Hanna says:

    Are they still doing the “Smart Pricing” where the clicks were partially valued based on the quality of a site’s traffic? If so and they don’t modify the formula, this move will likely increase the value of the clicks which ought to at least somewhat offset the loss of clicks.

    On the other hand, how many accidental clicks are there? The only time I’ve ever accidentally clicked an ad was because of the javascript. This may be a Firefox specific thing, but if you try to click a link on a page before the Google ads or other javascript objects have fully loaded, the objects on the page may jump around and you end up clicking an ad (or something else entirely) by mistake. I suppose a smaller target would make that less likely, but it won’t eliminate it.

  2. Steve Paine says:

    This could be because of the increasing popularity of touch scrolling on phones and mobile PC. I use UMPCs all the time and am always clicking on links. I guess iPhone users do it too. Maybe its to help this scenrio (as well as a general push towards ‘real’ clicks which is something I support.)

    Steve.
    UMPCPortal

  3. Googlelady says:

    It seems that the Google rumors are being applied in some way.
    http://www.googlelady.com/500/google-rumors-google-pagerank-reset/

  4. Dom says:

    I agree with the overall sentiment here – this is probably a short term hit for a long term gain.

  5. Devin says:

    Hey,
    Currently my ad block is still clickable throughout the box. They may have not made the change yet, but does this mean that the ad box is still clickable, but on clicks on the link will be accepted?

  6. Eric Giguere says:

    One side effect to this, though, is that AdSense ad trackers will be less effective. They were already hit a few months back when Google hid the ad data from them, now this will make them even less accurate.

  7. revenuerobot says:

    wow that is definitely going to cut back on the “accidental clicks” especially the ones that are right near a persons navigation bar….

  8. Low says:

    Just wonder if the rules also applied to ads on gmail.

  9. Tom Bonner says:

    Recently I saw a decrease in earnings from what I assume was a smart pricing issue. I believe this move by Big G will help eliminate accidental clicks, so conversions will be better. Thus smart pricing, hopefully, will be less of an problem.

    Tom Bonner
    http://alphatracks.com

  10. Tom Bonner says:

    Recently I saw a decrease in earnings from what I assume was a smart pricing issue. I believe this move by Big G will help eliminate accidental clicks, so conversions will be better. Thus smart pricing, hopefully, will be less of an problem. Thus i expect my overall earnings will go up after this is in effect.

    Tom Bonner
    http://alphatracks.com

  11. Ades says:

    I think it’s a good news for the advertisers, since it will eliminate accidental clicks.

    I also think that it won’t affect the publishers’ earnings that much. Because the person who is determined to click on the ad, will still click on them. And most of them were clicking on the titles and urls of the ads anyway.

  12. Madlab Post says:

    While adsense has provided a small portion of my film fundraising efforts, it has not provided a significant amount of revenue enough for me to be concerned about. Therefore, these changes do not affect my blog much. It is easy to understand how some bloggers would not welcome this new change, but mostly, those who are not concerned with content and more concerned with their bottom line will be affected by this the most.

    Bloggers who have a large readership and have been generating a lot from adsense may not be affected much because if someone is clicking on an ad, it will more than likely be because they find something of interest and choose to actually click on the URL or ad title. Expecting to gain money from other areas in the ad unit or even random “accidental” clicks may reflect a selfishness on the part of a blogger who thinks that all clicks should matter whether someone is actually interested in the ad, or not.

  13. Ivy says:

    I know this is a little off topic, but adsense also doesn’t track clicks properly. I have MyBlogLog tracker installed on my website, and it tracks the links that users clicked. For the period of last week, MyBlogLog reported that I had 4 clicks on Google Ads, NONE of which was reported in my adsense report!

    I only realised this today, and sadly MyBlogLog only allows me to track stats up to the last 1 week and no earlier. I had a few stumbles before that period, which I suppose did not get recorded as well. For 3 stumbles that got me over 800 visitors and over a thousand page views, and only 1 click no an ad – didn’t seem right.

    Anyway, I am seriously considering removing Adsense from my blog and taking up other channels of generating income from advertisements.

  14. Ross says:

    I think this is a good thing. Sure, i may earn a bit less. But it’s not fare for advertisers to be charged for an accidental click.

    If people are interested in the ad they will click on the links anyway. We should all stop being so selfish and realize this is indeed a fair move for advertisers…

  15. It’s worth pointing out that Google only makes money if people click on their ads. So if fewer people click on ads, Google makes less money as well.

  16. They are really starting to tick me off. (Google) So they have decreased their click space but they’ve kept the size of their ad the same. Why don’t they just decrease all of it?

  17. Joel says:

    My earnings doomed :((

  18. Jimmy says:

    As a publisher, I don’t see a good reason to give away precious real estate space on my website in return of a 10% clickable zone.

    They should at least work the ad units sizes a bit in order to give publishers something in return.

  19. They will be able to charge more per click as the clicks are considered more valuable…

  20. charlie says:

    I think its good because you will get more targeted clicks and more people staying. Slipups with your mouse happen but I have to believe that you will eventually get more clicks that are wanted which in turn will… well you know the rest.

  21. Stephanie says:

    This makes sense to me, and count me among those who hadn’t particularly noticed that you could click anywhere on the ad. I have AdSense on some of my sites, and this change doesn’t bother me at all.

    This just seems sensible all the way around.

  22. blackysky says:

    Adsense becomes advertiser user friendly. it is a fair move for advertiser that use adword because they will have more quality cliks for their money.

    I hope google will do a major move for publishers and put more media ads in the system, I know advertiser put the money in the system but without no publishers or unhappy publisher .. THE WHOLE GOOGLE ADVERTISING SYTEM DOESN’T work at all… GOOGLE STILL NEEDS US… at the end of the day…

  23. mariano says:

    honestly, I think it’s fair. if we hope to make money with accidental clicks, in the long run it will make things worse. Anyway I see a CPA future very near, don’t you?

  24. Heelcandy says:

    This is why if your only method of making money from your blog is Adsense you are totally missing the boat. If this doesn’t get everyone thinking about other streams of high paying revenue I don’t know what will.

  25. markowe says:

    Wow, interesting reaction from publishers! I thought there would be uproar, but the consensus is that this is a good thing overall.

    I agree too – I don’t WANT to make money off accidental clicks, that’s not part of my strategy (though it is for some). Sure, this may all be part of a great Google conspiracy, but I doubt they are out to “stitch up” their publishers either.

    Also, as somebody else mentioned, the old ads were strangely “dead” as a result of not being in keeping with the functioning of the web as a whole. I even thought they were rendered as a bitmap when I first saw them.

    Who knows, visitors may even click MORE often when they encounter a “proper” link..! Wonder if it will show the URL down in the browser..?

    I suppose people who actually habitually click ads might be so confused that they wouldn’t know to click on the link, but how many of those are there, I wonder..?! No, I’m all for it.

  26. Patrick says:

    Hello,

    This is in response to the comment above by SEOVibe mentioning my blog. Thanks for the mention.

    I just wanted to let you know that that is actually very old. It’s an invite only testing program that gives invited publishers access to code that allows you to further customize the appearance of the ads with the approval of a Google representative. No worries.

    Thanks,

    Patrick

  27. blackysky says:

    I think about it 2 sec and in a way .. it is the best google move. More quality advertiser and if imagine a lot of people will drop adsense .. it means more competition so the value of one click will worth more in a long term…. if you add targeting ads it brings even more competition … I think we should look the big picture of it.

    You can be mad at google … but at the end google only tries to bring quality to his system.. even for the pagerank… Of course you should have more than one source of income.. but google seems to push everything to the next level.

  28. As both a publisher and an advertiser, I think this is a fair change. I don’t want to pay for accidental clicks and, really, I don’t want people leaving my site accidentally to see an ad they didn’t really want to see, either.

    It will be interesting to see how much this changes things.

    Note that this will decrease revenue for Google as well as for publishers.

  29. I see *some* of my ads exhibit this feature, but others do not.. “rolling out” must mean a lot of servers.. :-)

    I have no problem with this – anyone seriously interested in the product should be able to find the link, and if the false clicks are cut down, ad value should increase.

  30. I think this is fair, and that the system will correct itself and earnings will be just fine for those who are over $100/day. In other words, it’ll be fine for those who are above statistical noise-based earnings.

  31. Google corrects it, Thatz good. I find no problem with this correction.

  32. So far my Adsense click through rates and CPM have been cut by more than 50% from my previous rates with these new ads. Hopefully the CPC will adjust accordingly with a higher quality of clickthroughs.

  33. I haven’t seen my click thru rates drop at all. In fact I had a great day yesterday, Sunday, earning more than $45 US.

  34. Rampantheart says:

    Great post!Thanks for sharing the info.

  35. UltraEgypt says:

    I don’t know when google implemented this change, but my earnings goes as:

    Saturday, November 17: $15.71
    Sunday, November 18: $9.10
    Monday, November 19: $7.88
    Tuesday, November 20: $9.45
    Wednesday, November 21: $8.30
    Thursday, November 22: $10.13

    But I’ve seen a strong (CTR & CPM) drop today so far

    does anybody know when exactely Google have implemented it?

  36. lucas131 says:

    I think clicks count to links are more natural for default surfer then in background. Its good that google change it imo.

  37. I think Google has made a step in the right direction for advertisers. After all, advertisers place ads with Google to gain good leads and customers. While accidental clicks may increase publisher’s incomes, it drives up the cost to the advertiser with absolutely no gain. It would be a different situation if publishers were paid only when a sale was made like most affiliate links.

  38. Career says:

    Heather Koppes if you think so. What is the justification behind keeping the old adformat in the premium publisher websites.

    For example linkedin.com, they still show the old ad sense ads..
    !!?

  39. Google Adsense has really been making some changes this year. I think it both has its ups and downs this latest change. Advertisers should see a better conversion rate now eliminating those accidental clicks but as for us publishers it may take some money out of our pockets. I see why they do it and its a business as much as its a way for us to make money online. When advertisers begin complaining of invalid or accidental clicks they are forced to do something sometimes hurting the ones responsible for Google making their money through our websites as well. I know myself I haven’t seen much change lately in earnings from Adsense. I really don’t think it will matter much as when someone is interested in an ad they will click when their pointer turns into a hand. Don’t think it will hurt us that much with this really. The only thing I would suggest and hoped that they did is make ” all the text” clickable, eliminate the background as a person said previously but make all th text clickable. I think that would be as fair as they can be doing it that way for both Advertisers and publishers. If anyone is seeing a drastic decrease in Adsense earnings please share with the rest of us.

  40. divit says:

    Thanks a lot for the article. I didn’t know about these changes before I read this.

  41. paylasonline says:

    I think clicks count to links are more natural for default surfer then in background. Its good that google change it imo

  42. I love adsense, but I have noticed that less and less people have been clicking the ones that I have on my site. This post really explains that now. Thanks!