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Google AdSense Forum

Advertisers can target ads 'above the fold'

 6:58 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just received an email from google saying they've rolled out a new feature for advertisers, that lets them only target ads that appear above the fold.

i was wondering how this works. i know you can pick an ad location when you set up a channel, but i doubt that google would rely on just that because it would be open to abuse.

they must have some way of checking where the ad appears. but what happens if you've got the ad code right at the bottom of your HTML, but still make it appear near the top with CSS? would google realise that the ad still appears above the fold?

maybe we should all start moving the ad code to the top of the HTML to be safe.



 7:48 am on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Below the fold on an informational site can be a prime spot if the article is about the benefits of a blue widget and the ad is about a sale on blue widgets. In my experience the CTR and conversion on affiliate ads/links placed at the end of articles in this manner can be fanstastic.

Higher up on the page might be the best place for advertisers in general, but not always.


 2:19 pm on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Below the fold on an informational site can be a prime spot if the article is about the benefits of a blue widget and the ad is about a sale on blue widgets. In my experience the CTR and conversion on affiliate ads/links placed at the end of articles in this manner can be fanstastic.

Yep, totally agree.
Plus, I made my site for my visitors. I want them to read what I have to say, not visit a page and click on the advert straight away. Nor do I want them to scroll back up and click.

I have to look long and hard at my site to find any pages that have an advert above the fold.

[PS: Not affected by the recent downturn in revenue that others are mentioning].


 4:38 pm on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

it might be a good place, but advertisers will likely plump for the 'above the fold only' option anyway. not many are going to take the time to trawl their way through publishers sites to see where the ads are placed.

my point was this: should we start moving our code up in the HTML so google knows it's above the fold (assuming they cant work it out the CSS way), otherwise we might miss out on all these advertisers ticking the 'above the fold' option.


 5:48 pm on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you register your site with the Ad Planner (now the DoubleClick Ad Planner!) you can specify in a general way where your placements are.


 5:49 pm on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think what martinibuster says brings up a good question.

If you are going to put one Adsense text ad box (I have sometimes read that one ad unit on a page can be higher paying than a couple) on an informational site, is it better to put it above the fold or at the end of the page or article?

Which would yield a higher CTR?


 5:57 pm on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

it might be a good place, but advertisers will likely plump for the 'above the fold only' option anyway.

That's their choice, but those who insist on it lose out on being on my site. Visitors first, advertisers last.


 12:38 pm on May 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some details at [adsense.blogspot.com...]

"In order to determine which ads are above and below the fold, we've implemented a statistically-driven model. The model takes into account various user experiences and situations, including different web browsers, monitor sizes, and screen resolutions, and only considers ads above the fold if they are fully on-screen when the browser window loads."

Plus details on how AdWords advertisers can exclude below the fold ads at [adwords.google.com...]


 12:52 pm on May 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree with Lame_Wolf. Ads placed at the bottom of the page, after an article, often are more user friendly than ads placed at the top or near the middle of the page. Who wants to immediately click on an ad right after the page loads?

Obviously, they arrived there to do something. Read an article, perhaps. So they're going to change their mind because of an incredibly wonderful offer presented to them from an advertisement at the top of the page? Not likely.

What seems more likely is that they will read the article, or view the image or whatever they came to that page for in the first place, then will be looking for other options, either another page on the site, or perhaps an advertisement conveniently located at the end of the article.

I try to consider how people use a site, not what advertisers think is best, and of course what works for one site might not work for another, but I can't remember the last time I scrolled back to the top to click on an ad, or clicked an ad immediately after arriving at a page.


 3:23 pm on May 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Many of the above the fold ads will more than likely be branding ads, not even looking for/paying for actual clicks.


 9:22 am on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Knowing where on the page something is doesn't require any fancy technical work on Google's end, don't worry about where in the code you place your ads (bottom of code with css positioning up top is fine).

It has to do with what loads in the visible area relative to your page scrolling. If an ad appears without scrolling it's in the visible area for that resolution. Google records this data when they visit.

I'm not allowed to link to particular sites to demonstrate this so try this. Visit "Jay Leno's Garage" and find a video (lot's on that site). Click on the little "embed" button code found in the bottom right of each video. Place the code on test pages, one up top, one at the bottom below the fold. look at the pages and notice how the bottom video won't even load until you've scrolled down to it? It's a nifty bandwidth saving feature, Google's tapping into it too. A+

As for adwords advertisers opting out of below the fold ads, meh, give a man enough rope and he'll hang himself. Their loss unfortunately becomes ours, adsense needs to move up page so find something else for down there or accept the losses.


 1:15 pm on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

only considers ads above the fold if they are fully on-screen when the browser window loads

And I've been working hard to get the ads to show only AFTER the window loads!


 3:07 pm on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well this will certainly increase the bidding on that specific ad units, elevating the cpc. It is good news for publishers.

What concerns me is the word "fully" in the Google email. The way most sites are designed, it is nearly impossible to have any ad unit "fully" above the fold with the exception of the 728x90 and 468x60 ad units. The skyscrapers don't fit fully in most site designs. Since the 468x60 banner is known for poor performance, it looks like will encourage those 728x90 banners, which most publishers loath. You need to be very creative to get the 300x250 above the fold, blended into content without giving the site the MFA look and increasing the bounce rate that goes with MFA sites.

When myself and many other saw the huge plunge in Adsense revenue way, way back, I did a site redesign that was huge. It was a 100% reorganization of the content, a massive undertaking. I really struggled to come up with something that looked good, didn't look MFA and was visitor friendly. My earnings have skyrocketed, gone three times higher than I have seen for years. I have been able to identify a number of reasons for this massive increase in earnings. There is no doubt the site redesign was one of them. I'm actually in excellent position for this 'above the fold' bidding war.

Having said that, in looking at my current design and all previous designs, that 160x600 banner will never be "fully" above the fold, wont' fit above the fold, no matter what I do. This is unfortunate because that particular ad block is my highest earning even though only two ads in it are above the fold.

I have a small Google custom search box above it, and even if I move the search box, only three ads in the block will be above the fold. The only way to fully view the skyscraper is to push it right to the top of the page, a horrible appearance for site design, not a choice any site owner in their right mind would choose.

While it will certainly push the publisher to rethink their design, in the end, this can only be good news for those who are willing to think outside the box. I know it is going to push me go to back to Ad Planner to check on my ad block descriptions.


 3:44 pm on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

AndyA and Lame_Wolf, I was advised somewhere along the way that it was useless to put ads anywhere below the fold. Now reading this:

Ads placed at the bottom of the page, after an article, often are more user friendly than ads placed at the top or near the middle of the page. Who wants to immediately click on an ad right after the page loads?

That makes sense to me. Thanks.


 6:03 pm on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Let's not distort the functional term of "user friendly". In the business world, "user friendly" refers to increasing sales by giving customers what they want and what will make them comfortable when they shop. In brick and mortar, it means stores hours that target the widest possible market, primary market targeted in-store music, wide aisles, appealing product display, easy to read signage, clearly marked prices, popular products located in main aisles and plenty of eager staff to answer product questions.

We must use the words "shop" and "customer" when thinking of user-friendliness for websites, because the entire purpose of Adsense ads is to get an advertiser's potential "customer" to find their site where they will then "shop", or at least come to browse, later arriving and shopping. If your site is for little Mensa members, who come to read every single word on the page and THEN view your ads, you are one of a small percentage of webmasters, with a very unique visitor base. People in general do not read an entire article and will never see that ad block beneath it.

If it's not about the money, instead being about the visitor, then pull the ads. People who don't want to shop are annoyed by ads, so get rid of them. If the purpose of the site is to make money, than you do what you must to ensure you make the most amount of money and still be able to sleep at night. Nobody goes into business with the idea that they want to make only a buck a day. If you only want an ad below the article, down at the bottom of your page, you are greatly misinformed about the behavior of those who arrive to read.

You assume, wrongly so, that everyone who comes to your site comes with the intent of reading the ENTIRE article. That is why your ad is at the bottom of the article. In the narrow thinking scheme of things, you would be right. However, if you really are a 'writer', then you know that the first paragraph or two of your article is actually a summary of the points you are going to make in the article. Subsequent paragraphs describe those points, with the final paragraph giving a conclusional wrap-up. While that final paragraph may mean a difference between an A grade and B grade on a term paper, it doesn't mean squat on an 'informational' page. The only way that last paragraph is useful, is where the link to the next page is located there. For a one-page article, is pretty useless.

A person of average intelligent will get all the information they need in the first couple, well-written paragraphs, then is ready to leave your page (unless it is a forum page). They will NEVER see that ad block at the bottom of the article.

Not everybody wants to know step by step how the bridge was built. Some just want to know where the bridge was built, the cost of the bridge, what color it was, what year it was built, how many died building the bridge, who the primary engineer was OR any other single facts related to the bridge. They are not going to read the entire article, because, because, because.... you will not tell them ANY of those facts in the last paragraph, unless you are really BAD writer. These facts are sprinkled throughout the article.

Let me give a specific example of this. You rank #1 for "longest bridge". When I search for some facts I know to get a refined search for what I don't know, I search for, "longest bridge built in 1941". You pop up and I click through to your site, because what I want to know is where that bridge is located. I don't care about any other facts. So, as soon as you tell me in your article, where that bridge is built, I am done reading. I now know where it is located. To this point, I have seen no ads on your site, so I click the back browser button and leave.

IF you had an ad above the fold, near the paragraphs with that bridge location and the ad had a title of "longest bridge in the world". Odds are I will click on it. It sounds interesting and I will pop on over to that site just to see what bridge that is. Sadly, I am more likely to read their entire article, than I am to read yours. I knew some facts about the bridge you wrote about, I know nothing about the bridge in the ad.

So, why are you waiting to the end of the article to show ads to those few who will actually read that entire article?

Why do you think "above the fold" planning is so critical? It is because most of us do not scroll down. We find we want upon load. If we don't, we bounce. This is supported by countless marketing research programs designed to identify visitor habits. Yes, some will read the entire article. But, as soon as you use the term "some" you have reduced your CTR upon page load. Already a great percentage are guaranteed not to click.

When the ad(s) are seen upon load, 100% of the visitors see them. You have the maximum CTR possible at that point, in theory, 100%. From there, you begin to reduce the CTR because some arrived my mistake, for one reason or another. Now, consider, those who arrived by mistake, will never see that ad at the bottom of your article, which may in fact hold information on another site that DOES have what they were looking for. You just lost that click.

This follows tried and true brick and mortar marketing. If I bought 1,000 cases of a specific sneaker, and I really want to move them out in a hurry, not only are they going to be shelves by size, also by style, at the main aisle into the shoe department AND at the main entrance into my store where I am guaranteed EVERY customer will see them. If I don't want to see them in a hurry, I put then in the shoe department by style and leave it at that. With brick and mortar, the odds are high the customer will return again and again. Not so on the internet. You have to assume, though it is not always the case, you have ONE shot at that customer. What a shame to not have that ad where each visitor is guaranteed to see it.

It is a mistake to design a page and the entire site for the way YOU surf the web. We design for the masses. When we don't, we have failed. When Adsense is involved, you are looking at a scenario ripe for 'smart pricing' that will have you eventually posting about how your earnings keep going further and further down.

In answer to the question, "who wants to immediately click on an ad right after the page loads?". I can give you tons of responses, though I will give just some of the more popular reasons. It is the person who has suddenly realized after viewing your template that they have been to your site already and you did not have what they were looking for. That is one of the unfortunate results of ranking highly in the search engine for too wide of a topic. You are proud to be #1 for that one-word keyword, but still scratch your head wondering why your traffic is so high and CTR is so low.

It is the person who thought you would have a product for sale, and instead realizes you only have information about products. The visitor may have already read all the information on the product they need, they are now looking for the product, at the best possible price. This will nearly always just annoy the visitor. Something in your search listing lead the visitor to believe you had the product, and you don't. I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me.

It is the person who realizes the English on your site is second-rate and it will be painful to read your article. While you may be proud of your success at learning a second language, your site may look like a poor translation generated on that most popular free translation site. Those who speak English as a first language, will find it difficult to follow your train of thought. It is tedious reading, not something the average English visitor wants to bother with.

It is the person who sees the scroll bar on your page is only 30 pixels long, indicating the article is way too long, and they have neither the time nor the patience to sort through your article to find what they are looking for. If they are like myself, they will do a ctrl+F, automatically skip to the search results on your page for that query, read a line or two, then quickly scroll back up the top of the page, where of course, you have ensured there are no ads.

It is not uncommon for me to ctrl+f search on a page of normal length, so I can quickly get to what I am looking for. In fact, I do it a lot on WW, other forums, DIY sites, Wiki sites and news sites. If you have an informational site, you fall into that category.

If these people see an ad, above the fold, that looks like it might be a better option for them, they will likely click it. The exception would be landing on a MFA full of ads above the fold, which will only piss them off and get them clicking the back browser button. Of course, as most of us know, if the reason they want to leave is that tiny scroll bar on the right side of the page, the ads are likely not well-targeted any way. You have too much content, with too wide a topic, to draw finely tuned keywords for finely tuned ad topics.

While you might want to put one ad block at the end of the article, if you don't have at least one more above the fold, you are really missing out on major earnings. I hope that means you are running your 'business' out of your parent's garage that also serves as a place to rest your head.


 8:21 pm on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

MsHuggys, well said and well explained. what you said is the consensus most of us go by over what we learned over the years.

G* is probably putting its own interest first, saying to advertisers, it's likely many people won't click your ads if deep within or at the end of content, why don't you be there where everyone will see, if there are no clicks at least you were guaranteed a pageview, you paid for branding which comes free or next to nothing (not good for adsense publishers though).

Experiment starts at home (here), I read your entire post twice, because I liked what you said, but I usually skip most long posts and go directly to the phrase related to what I was looking for.
In my case, I would've clicked an ad if it was at the end, I was determined to read the whole post, it was what I wanted, but it won't have been what I wanted most times and likely to have either clicked an ad at the top or clicked the back button.

Thanks for taking the time to write this long post.


 8:22 pm on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Excellent post MsHuggys.

To back it up, I have 336 x 280 top and bottom of many of my pages. The one above the fold has a CTR about twice the one at the bottom of the page, and an even better eCPM. No question in my mind, above the fold works better.

But, even allowing for the Google blurb, how can they be sure that ads are above the fold? There are some clever tricks which can be used to disguise the exact position content appears on a page. No algo will be clever enough to beat the really creative designer.

Which makes me think that only "simply designed" pages which clearly display ads ATF will be included.


 5:04 am on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

What a nice skilled writing! Very thoughtful.


 2:15 pm on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

only considers ads above the fold if they are fully on-screen when the browser window loads

Hmm. So I use a vertical skyscraper, aligned with the top of an article. On some screens, the entire skyscraper doesn't show until you scroll down. So are those ads not "above the fold" under this definition? What happens if they are "above the fold" on some machines but not on others....



 2:58 pm on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't see any skyscraper fully loading, even on Google Chrome, which gives one of the highest screens below the tool bars for a browsers, unless the skyscraper is pushed to the top of the page. On a Google Chrome browser, the available area seen in the browser, above the fold is exactly 600 pixels on the standard 1024x768 high screen resolution.

I wanted to consider what type of site design would allow for a 600 high banner, when pushed way to be fully seen. So, I went to Google's own site. Not even on the search results page on Google's site are there a full 600 pixel high ad section upon load. Their search results are displaying 529 pixels high, using their Chrome browser. It would be less in IE with all the tool bars, especially if you add on the Google tool bar to IE.


 4:20 pm on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks. That's interesting. I had seen it not loading on my laptop but had assumed it would load on mine.

That implies that anyone using that size ads can assume they won't be targeted...


 5:56 pm on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Targeted by the big guys with agency accounts, maybe. I have a feeling Joe User doing his own AdWords (and there are an awful lot of those) either won't notice or won't bother.


 6:00 pm on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

In my opinion, Adsense ads at the top of the page, can and often does make the page look spammy. As a publisher, I don't want my site to appear that way to my readers.


 11:25 pm on May 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm on another advertising network that requires all ads "above the fold." However they won't define in precise terms what "above the fold" really means. There are two important considerations I can think of:

1) Screen resolution. I use 1024x768 but most people I work with use 1280x1024. So an ad that dips below the fold on my screen could be entirely above the fold on theirs. So I wonder what is the standard resolution used to define "above the fold."

2) Toolbars - some people have as much real estate dedicated to toolbars as the browser area. So I wonder how many toolbars are used when defining "above the fold."

The difference is huge. An ad may easily appear above the fold at 1280x1024 with no toolbars, yet be buried at 1024x768 with 3 or 4 toolbars.


 11:37 pm on May 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

@martinibuster wrote:

Below the fold on an informational site can be a prime spot if the article is about the benefits of a blue widget and the ad is about a sale on blue widgets. In my experience the CTR and conversion on affiliate ads/links placed at the end of articles in this manner can be fanstastic.

Higher up on the page might be the best place for advertisers in general, but not always.

I've seen similar results, where ads at the bottom right of an informational article will get better CTR than an ad at the bottom right of some other page (for example, a list of names and addresses). But even so, the top ads still get the higher CTR and eCPM.

I can see Google's reasoning for doing this. I've seen websites with ads from several networks on the same page, with ads stacked one on top of another at the bottom of the page. The content of the page itself might be good, but the bottom of the page is a link farm. Most real people probably don't sit there and look at all those ads. Many clicks are probably accidental. Those ads are garbage to an advertiser.


 11:49 pm on May 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

@castar wrote:

In my opinion, Adsense ads at the top of the page, can and often does make the page look spammy. As a publisher, I don't want my site to appear that way to my readers.

I really have to respect people who take pride in their websites. I felt the same way for around 7 or 8 years until it started to make decent money, and in return I began to invest more money back into it. Right now I'm spending around $500 a month advertising what used to be a hobby. That really changed my perspective. Unfortunately it's not really a hobby anymore... now it's a business. Yeah the ads look "spammy" to me too, but it doesn't really bother me anymore. I guess I need a new hobby :-)

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