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Google AdSense Forum

"Text Only" Now Means Nothing - Video Ads Shown
AdSense Does Whatever They Want
Sally Stitts

 7:46 pm on Feb 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

ALL of my ads are "Text Only".
I hate video ads.

I now see video ads on various pages of mine.
One of them was even "autoplay". NO way.




 8:11 pm on Feb 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

Do you have enhanced text ads turned on or off in the ad serving section?

Enhanced text ads have been evolving from the arrow to God-knows-where-it-will-end for quite awhile now. Haven't tried turning that feature off in a long while but might be worth some investigation.

Sally Stitts

 8:32 pm on Feb 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

Enhanced text ads?
Where do I find this?

By ad serving section, do you mean "My Ads"?
Must it be done individually for each ad?
I will turn it off in a nanosecond.

Under "Allow and Block Ads".
I turned ALL 8 of those options off!
"User Based Ads" (3 options)
"Enhanced Text Ads" (1 option)
"Display Ads" (4 options)

Thank you so much, webcentric.
Good as gold. Autoplay, indeed! Not in this lifetime.


 8:57 pm on Feb 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

That happened to me yesterday. I had a page that I thought I needed text only on (it was a printable page) and it kept showing non-text ads, even though I had selected text only.

I found a work around so the ad would not print at all, but it was really annoying that for this one little ad, I would have to tinker with a half dozen options located elsewhere. Really, can't "text only" just mean "text only"?


 2:05 am on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Thank you so much, webcentric.

My pleasure. Thanks for reminding me of it again. I'm thinking of turning off enhanced ads for awhile and see if it makes a difference at all. I totally forgot about that option after turning on Enhanced ads months ago to see how the feature would fare on my main site. May be time to go back and revisit that option. If I recall correctly though, underlines are gone in plain text ads too which is no help if that's the case.

Sally Stitts

 5:21 pm on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

February 14 is now my worst day ever.
Historically, I get over 3% CTR daily.
Today, it is closer to 1/2 %.

So, I switched all 8 "Ad Serving" options to the "GREEN CHECKMARK" to see what happens.
Will report back later.

It is alarming to think what I did yesterday had such a massive effect.
We'll see.


 6:14 pm on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

So, I switched all 8 "Ad Serving" options to the "GREEN CHECKMARK" to see what happens.

Are you aware that you are not paid for Social ads?

Sally Stitts

 9:40 pm on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Are you suggesting that I disable #3 below?
And leave the other 7 checked?
Is this the revenue maximizing approach?
The hit I took from NO "Green Checkmarks" is unacceptable (about 80%).

User-based ads
1. Interest-based ads - show ads based on user interest categories, and allow the use of visitation information from my site to help create interest categories.
2. Third party ads - use advertiser's audience information to deliver more relevant ads on my sites.
3. Social ads - show +1 related features and social annotations in ads.
Text ads
4. Enhanced text ads - show performance-enhancing features on text ads.
Display ads
5. Similar sized display ads - show smaller but higher performing display ads in larger ad units.
6. Enhanced display ads - show performance-enhancing features on display ads.
7. Animated display ads - show animated display ads.
8. Expandable ads - show ads that expand beyond the ad unit size following a user-initiated action.

After going to all green checkmarks this morning, it is becoming clear that I am on the right track. Things are returning to normal, albeit at a very slow pace. I wonder which one was "the killer" (huge revenue reducer).

I guess I must remove them one-at-a-time, over a period of days, to find the guilty party. 80% reduction of revenue in my case, suggests that others might do well to look at their "Allow and Block Ads" parameters very carefully.


 10:11 pm on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hi Sally,

It is up to you, but #3 doesn't generate revenue. See them as PSA adverts.

I do not allow other networks, or use DFP, so I have #1 and 2 turned off too.

7 and 8 are turned off, because they will turn off my visitors.

I just have 4 5 and 6 ticked. (rarely, I will turn off #4)


 11:00 pm on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

See them as PSA adverts.

I don't think that is what #3 means.

3. Social ads - show +1 related features and social annotations in ads.

Ads can now let people +1 them and show how many people have +1'd them. It is a little icon that appears at the base of the ad.

Google actually no longer displays PSAs and have not for about 3 years.

Though maybe you meant that advertising +1, even as that small box, is like a PSA. Maybe you meant that.


 11:12 pm on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

I don't think that is what #3 means.
I know. I was telling Sally to see them as such - ie, you won't get paid for them.

 11:53 pm on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

I keep #3 turned off. It's creates a visual distraction from the ad text and is just another way of making something look like it should be avoided. This is not related to PSA's though. It's about Google+ features primarily. I guess there are some out their who like to share ads with their friends but the idea of being used to perpetuate someone's advertisement without some incentive is just foreign to me. I don't even wear shirts with advertising on them. I'm not somebody's free billboard space and I don't think social media should be about pushing ads at your friends. So that feature is banned in my house.


 12:02 am on Feb 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

It is alarming to think what I did yesterday had such a massive effect.

These settings can and do have a dramatic impact on things. Here's why I think turning Enhanced text ads off may not be a real option anymore. I'm pretty sure, whether you use enhanced or not, you won't get underlined titles in the ads. G is trying to compensate for removing underlines with these various enhancements. Take away the enhancements and you have a truly crippled ad unit with only color, font-style, size and placement to work with. The clickability/actionability factor goes way down without underlines. The enhancement may be the only thing keeping this ship afloat at this point. I think a lot of webmasters used the old units in some very tricky, nefarious ways and it prompted Google to say, enough! I think the removal of underlines was a way of saying "we're not going make it easy for you trick people into clicking on ads anymore. Get honest or get out."


 6:47 am on Feb 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

I think the removal of underlines was a way of saying "we're not going make it easy for you trick people into clicking on ads anymore. Get honest or get out."

@ webcentric - Interesting idea which I hadn't thought of, thanks! Aside from sheer incompetence, my hunch as to why they took off the underlines has more to do with a Facebook generation way of webdesign than anything else. That is to say, young people who've grown up with "modern" websites which typically don't use underlines on links.


 3:51 pm on Feb 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

my hunch as to why they took off the underlines has more to do with a Facebook generation way of webdesign than anything else

I think this is equally valid. The visual language of the Internet is changing. We're in a period where people remember the way is was but are becoming comfortable with a new presentation model (at least where links are concerned).

Another piece of the puzzle that points at undoing trickery is the way they enlarged the ad titles. They made them so ridiculously large that it's pretty much inconceivable that they could be confused with normal links. The problem is, it makes them look like h1 tags and not like clickable elements. If I was at Google, I'd resent that fact that so many webmasters were using our ad units to make money by tricking people and I'd look for ways to combat the problem. I'm convinced these new designs are largely driven by this problem AND, on a related topic, I think that the concurrent effort to better detect trickery is at work where this whole invalid click controversy is concerned. The two efforts appear to be very coordinated and if you look at them together, point directly at an effort to reduce fraud in the system. That's not trying to destroy Adsense as some would have you believe. It looks to me like G is taking steps to preserve it. Is it perfect? No.

Back on topic: These enhancement to text ads aren't perfect either but Google is working on ways to improve actionability that don't give webmasters the ability to trick people. G is developing a new advertising metaphor and we're stuck with figuring out how to use it or abandoning it altogether. I think, that tweaking the settings, working with the tools they provide, getting inside the non-trickery mindset they're trying to establish is worth the effort and like everything else that company does, it's going to get tested for effectiveness, every step of the way. May take some time to settle into something that really works for advertisers, publishers and Google but I do think that's the goal and I think it's worth staying on the bus, continuing to work the problem and seeing where this eventually ends up.


 2:02 am on Feb 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

They have new enhanced text ads showing a small photo inside the text ad. Hadn't seen these before until a few days ago.

I think they're terrific. I'd click on something like that.


 4:03 am on Feb 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

They have new enhanced text ads showing a small photo inside the text ad.

Yup, just saw that today too. Some people reported them a few days or so ago. Google is definitely trying to reshape the language of actionability. I think it's only a matter of time before these enhanced units get back on a solid track. Definitely worth hanging around for me thinks.

Sally Stitts

 4:52 pm on Feb 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

After going to "all green checkmarks", things recovered quite nicely. I suspect that #4 was the issue, "Enhanced Text".

Perhaps there is a "AdSense DOC factor" (Degree Of Compliance) in the AdSense algo. A webmaster gets brownie points for implementing all green checkmarks, fewer points for omitting checkmarks.

Is there a reward for implementing EVERYTHING that Google wants us to do? Perhaps, "getting with the program", and
going "all in" will give you extra revenue? And ANY reluctance to implement AdSense's directives will cost you?

"If you do thus and so, revenue may increase." For whom? Not all webmasters believe that ALL AdSense suggestions result in higher revenue for THEM. Hence, they exercise choices that they have been given, which do not coincide exactly with suggested AdSense "best practices". Does this behavior cost them money? I wonder.

Such as not using "preferred ad formats"
not using multiple ads per page
not selecting the "asynchronous" option
not opting in to images
not opting in to CPM
etc., etc.

and, of course, not specifying "Enhanced Text".

[edited by: Sally_Stitts at 5:23 pm (utc) on Feb 16, 2014]


 5:08 pm on Feb 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

The enhanced features of these ads and they way they keep evolving indicate that Google understands the removal of hyperlinks damages ad effectiveness. These enhanced features seem to be an attempt to put clickability back into the units but with different mechanisms. Even the Nessie arrows were an attempt to do that. I don't think this is about punishing webmasters. That's looking at a half-empty glass. They're trying to improve their product and we've taken some hits in the process but it's becoming clear that this is about creating a new marketing paradigm. I know there are those who will say "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" but it was broke where fraudulent publisher tactics are concerned and I'm sure it was costing Google and Advertisers money. Someday, I think people are going to see that there was a certain amount of genius in this whole evolutionary process we've been suffering through. Hey, stagnant companies are dropping like flies. One thing's for certain, Google is not a stagnant company.

I still find it a bit odd that a text ad would show a video. There are settings in the options mentioned above specifically for enhanced "Display Ads" but if the OP's settings are truly "Text Only" then this is a bit odd.

Added: Also note that Google is starting to draw distinctions between ad display settings that are applied to AdWords ads and setting applied to third-party network ads. See this post for further insite: [webmasterworld.com ]


 6:47 am on Feb 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

webcentric, i don't think you understand what "3. Social ads - show +1 related features and social annotations in ads. " means.

This simply means that many people have "+1"ed it and that total will appear within the ad. It's a minor, but effective means of building trust in the ad. If 12,982 people +1 one ad, but nobody +1s another...psychologically users will be less likely to click on the second ad...


 2:27 pm on Feb 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

@eek2121 I think we agree on what #3 means from the standpoint of ad display. It shows a count of people who endorsed the ad. My point is, there's already a little arrow in the upper right corner of the ad space and when you add the +1 feature, it's another visual distraction and looks cluttered to me. On another side of this, isn't +1ing something a way of sharing it through your Google+ account (similar to Liking in Facebook)? I have never +1ed an ad but made the assumption that that is what someone is doing if they do. I could be wrong in this assumption as I don't use G+ generally. I have a G+ account but can't say I've ever seen an ad on my site that's been plussed by other people. Not saying it doesn't occur, just haven't noticed any such activity.

My question would be "has anyone tested this feature to see if it improves CTR?" I'm guessing a lot of people don't even know this setting exists so who's to know if this isn't something dragging their CTR through the floor (or helping it)? Another factor in the game. Another non-text feature of what was once a text ad.


 8:51 pm on Feb 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

I made what I consider a relatively small change to one of my sites layout on Saturday. Watched RPM drop significantly on Sunday and Monday (CTR was down). Removed the layout change earlier today and have been seeing RPM slowly climb back.

I just though I'd mention this here because of the complaints about falling CTR and RPM. If you are constantly making changes to your site layout you'll never really get a feel for what works best with AdSense. I've found making one small chance at a time and seeing if there's any effect works best.

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