|Prediction: May 2014 will be the worst month of all time|
| 9:38 pm on May 1, 2014 (gmt 0)|
So, it appears as though AdSense has permanently replaced the smaller circle arrow in the text ads with the much larger square version. I've seen it consistently across all devices and I don't think I ever saw it before on smartphones. This will have huge negative consequences for publishers that are opted into text ads. I'm already seeing a huge CTR drop as a result.
Unless AdSense changes this "switch" I predict it will be every publishers worst CTR month ever, and as a result, your worst month as a publisher adjust for traffic.
Google - unbelievable.
| 3:46 am on May 12, 2014 (gmt 0)|
The farce? If you make something ugly enough, yes people will stay away. That goes for anything. Ugly cake that is the best tasting will sell? Fine dining with ugly presentation will win you awards and line-ups at the door?
If the rollout included all Google properties then I might buy into this. I'm not smart but I can at the very least call a spade a spade. If this idiocy was valid then shrink that button on the ad so small that the intent would be so incredibly clear that the person really really really wanted to click the ad. If you don't see these ad rollouts across all properties then spare me the "betterment of advertisers" discussion.
Isn't the discussion as to why May is awful and why previous months have dropped off? The demise of earnings?
There are some discussions I should stay out of and this is one of them. Beam me up Scotty.
| 3:59 am on May 12, 2014 (gmt 0)|
May has been good for me so far.
| 10:16 am on May 12, 2014 (gmt 0)|
I've started making some xxxx daily with new text ads, with arrow in rectangle and several days later , the CTR dropped more than 60%. I've examined the case and saw that on the post that was making 85% of my earnings the arrows were gone. Other posts in the site are still with arrows. So I assume Google can only penalize specific URL's within a site. I've put another ad format on the same "penalized" page and it is with arrows. One more assumption - they penalized the URL+used ad format. Now I'm sending half of the traffic to that page to see the result.
| 12:42 pm on May 12, 2014 (gmt 0)|
If I had to guess, I would say that the whole square/round arrow thing is almost completely tied up with mobile and what Google is seeing (or thinks they are seeing, or thinks they will be seeing) there. Fugly ads on desktop, sure, but they aren't designed for desktop. They're designed for mobile.
| 1:13 pm on May 12, 2014 (gmt 0)|
@netmeg -- Yes, these ads are about mobile and I think there is an important distinction missing in this conversation, specifically (responsive ad units). This conversation is going on like everyone is using the same type of unit but I highly doubt that that is the case. I know you have mentioned using responsive units in the past and I use them pretty much exclusively. Then there's the type of responsive unit to consider. With smart sizing, the arrow just grows and grows proportionately with the ad (to ridiculous proportions). I'm now considering going back to the css approach to better control what is happening on the desktop.
@all -- If you're using fixed ad sizes I suspect your results are somewhat more predictable and you're used to seeing the same size arrow in any given unit and style which could account for why some like the look and the results whereas others are confounded by the unpredictability of these units.
This relates to the prediction for the thread I suppose in that the way this month turns out for you is, at least to some degree, up to you. Yup, G is changing the game but there are settings you can use to control the outcome to some degree. It helps to know how to turn off Enhanced text ads (just in case the strategy can work for you). It also helps if when comparing your results to some other person's results, that you know if you're even using the same product as they are. Responsive units have different features than fixed size ads. That's the point. That and the fact that there are also two different ways to approach responsive ads and that difference could really matter at this stage of the game.
Me, I'm a long way from my "worst month of all time." Didn't say it's all peaches and cream, just that the details still do matter.
| 8:16 am on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
G hasn't realized by now that mobile search is just another passing fad? Does Siri read out ads now? The future of mobile is hand and eye free. The plex-ites have obviously run into too many half-opened doors while G-searching. For their own safety, someone needs to confiscate the plex-ites mobile devices and bring them back to reality before they walk into street traffic or trip and drown in the water features on campus. :)
| 10:33 am on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
|The future of mobile is hand and eye free. |
Hand free, maybe. But eye free, I doubt that. The human eye can process information much, much faster than the ears. In the time it takes Siri to read the title of the first result, I can have looked at 10 results and analyzed which one I think may be the most useful.
Also, people want choices. Search without using your eyes is limited because it takes so long for your ears to process someone reading it. We can't wait 2 minutes until we pull the car over to send a text without possibly killing ourselves, so I highly doubt people will sit around for Siri to list out all their search options. Not to mention that an algorithm that can accurately and elegantly take into account specific users wants and needs so that the first choice is always the best choice for that person is still a looooong way off.
So while they might go with a algorithmically selected first choice in a pinch or for universal facts (e.g. 2+2=4, the capital of Ohio is Columbus, etc.), they are just more trusting their own ability to choose the best for themselves from a limited pool. Advertising money isn't made through universal facts searches. It is made through shopping related searches, and those will be a visually based search for a long time yet to come.
Now, the minute those fancy brain implants happen that allow you to think a question and process the results instantly without seeing them (honest to god Larry Page is quoted as saying that is where he sees Google going) then it will be hands and eye free. But then Google will have direct access to your brain and there will be no need for ads because Google will just tell you what to buy based on the highest bidder. ;)
| 10:37 am on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
wow, what a thread.
OK, there needs to be some input from the other side. My earnings have been going up for four years straight. I was in from the start in 2003, made a packet and then saw a slow bleeding off and 2009 and 2010 were just awful, was ready to throw in the towel.
here's what I did:
1. I stopped caring about G. Even though adsense revenue is about triple what is was four years ago, it's now only 10% of my total income, instead of an eggs-in-one-basket 80% that it used to be. How you do that depends on you and your site. I decided not to be a hostage to them any more.
2. I stopped caring about adsense. I check my stats once a day, well it usually ends up 4-5 times a week. I've used handy tools like the experiments but I do not, I NEVER, obsess over stats. If you're logging into adsense 27 times a day and sweating over "CTR down 10% from its usual noon figures", I'm sorry but you are part of the problem, not a part of the solution.
3. If you're not obsessing over adsense stats, you can work on your site. I've taken my site from 2k pages to 6k pages in the last four years and these are not "product pages" fluff, those extra 4k pages are equal in quality to the initial 2k.
5. Build your site for visitors, not Google. Google themselves tell you this. Do you follow this advice or not? If you tell me, as someone in this very thread has done, that you "have done nothing but improve my site" and then tell me the next sentence "I spend four hours a day on this forum", then there's a sharp contradiction in there that you need to address. Working on your site means just that. Get out of adsense, stop checking your stats every seven minutes, stop trawling these forums for magic bullet solutions. Improve your site, think of your visitors, add quality content.
Diversify. Rectify. Technically Beautify.
My oh my.
| 12:58 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
|Improve your site, think of your visitors, add quality content. |
That's a normal day for me. Your entire post is dead on ChanandlerBong. I found it interesting that when Adsense introduced the scorecard (particularly Page Speed Insights), many around here made a point of telling everyone how useless it was. Seems everyone was focused on the Revenue Optimization part while breezing past the page speed part). I'll agree that the rev part is pretty useless but even though YSlow will tell you pretty much the same stuff, that tool is probably the first many webmasters had ever seen of some of the concepts you mention in your post.
I watch what's taking place with Adsense and look for the best ways to employ the product when it presents new features but my real solution to getting all bent out of shape about some of the crazy stuff I see is to go back to my site and just keep plugging away at content, UX and technical matters. For sanity's sake alone, knowing how to put Adsense on the back burner is a critical skill. It's not just a skill related to Adsense. Counting your money at the poker table is a good way to get yourself all twisted up too. ;)
| 3:53 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
I have snatched myself and my developer bald headed trying to improve page speed. Part of the problem is that we believe that Google's tool is inherently flawed (they all are in different ways) but of course, that's the one Google uses to pass judgement.
The problem with the scorecard assessment of page speed is that one day it will report a batch of pages as slow, and the next day they're fine, when nothing has changed (except for maybe some net latency issues). Which makes it less than helpful. So no, I don't go by the scorecard. But I'm out obsessively testing stuff all the time anyway.
| 3:53 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
I think the problem is that until you lose, everything is perfect and nothing is wrong with whatever you're doing. I think though, this is for people troubleshooting their current drop off. If anyone has avoided a drop off, then great! However you can't relate to losing what you have because you haven't lost it yet. I don't think it's from being smarter or wiser than other people here, it's a matter of being lucky. Lucky as in made smart choices before, but certainly carries little relevance as to dealing with a current collapse of today and over the past few months.
I'm not sure if I should make a separate thread about the new text format and the large block button. Is the discussion boiling down to the rectangle buttons as the culprit? I'm just wondering if enhanced text ads setting being off would remove them or not. Has anyone removed text ads entirely because of it?
I can just say that going from website to website, the internet just got a whole lot uglier. Instead of fitting into a page, people just populated their page with odd looking and odd colored rectangle shapes. Is this just me or my cookies? Am I being served ad formats that other people here are seeing? I'm not joking when I say the internet just got uglier.
Also regarding these rectangle boxes being for mobile? Does Google use these same rectangle formats when on SERPS or other Google properties or is it just us. If it's just us, then that mobile argument is for the birds. I ask in all seriousness if the Adsense publishers are the only ones sporting these. It's about as drastic a change I think the program has seen. Anyone disagree with that? In a sense it highjacked my page design, style and beautification.
| 3:59 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
|I'm not sure if I should make a separate thread about the new text format and the large block button. Is the discussion boiling down to the rectangle buttons as the culprit? I'm just wondering if enhanced text ads setting being off would remove them or not. Has anyone removed text ads entirely because of it? |
This has been discussed and there are a number of threads on the subject. YES, turning off Enhanced Text Ads will remove the rectangular arrow button and all other "enhancements" such as favicons, images (yup text ads now have images in them if you have enhancements turned on), etc. Anyone with enhanced text ads on is experiencing these elements. I think there's a good argument for turning enhancements off but then you really have to look at color and placements as your only real tools for attracting clicks.
| 4:03 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
Thank you for that. I really don't think I have a choice but to turn off enhanced ads for now. I need a test on this to really see what is going on.
I think what was so great about Adsense over the years has been simplicity. Having to deal with say a menu with 5 different on/off selections really throws things into a mess. That makes 1000's of possible combinations which makes these discussions amongst publishers a whole lot more difficult to diagnose. I guess for now, I'll stick with that one setting and report back here. I refuse at this point to make my websites ugly. They are ugly enough without random rectangles strewn about the page.
| 4:08 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
|...ugly enough without random rectangles strewn about the page. |
I couldn't agree with you more and UGLY is exactly the term I'd use to agree with you. I could almost (I said almost) tolerate ugly if it tripled my income stream but, unfortunately, that's not the case.
| 5:33 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
MrSavage, go back and read what I wrote. Stop obsessing about rectangles and tests. Adsense is "fire and forget", not "fire and obsess". Do yourself a favour, take a week's total 100% break from AdSense and what works and doesn't work. Go and work on your site.
Plenty on this thread have said G are trying to screw them, are trying to kill AdSense. Fine. If you believe that, why are you wasting your time on it?
I've known drops, huge drops, 2010 was probably 30% of what I was earning at the peak. It's how you deal with it that matters. I made the decision there and then to LET GO. It's a total change of mindset. No tests, no rectangles, no stats checks, no click dumps, nothing.
| 6:35 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
> I really don't think I have a choice but to turn off enhanced ads for now.
That was suicide the last time I tried it. Effectively wiped out what little earnings I was making. Could be niche specific, but was clearly a bad move for me. Not doing that again, sorry.
| 7:05 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
|Could be niche specific, but was clearly a bad move for me. |
I tried turning off enhanced text ads briefly also, and it turned the text size to a tiny font and stacked the ads horizontally, rather than the old way of having one big text ad leading a group of 3 smaller text ads below.
Enhanced text ads may not be perfect, but my guess is turning them off would drive CTR (and earnings) much lower, because the font size is so small and unreadable without it turned on.
| 7:13 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
Oh boy. LOL. Thanks for the feedback and results from turning off. Not surprising. If the system wants people to go in a certain way, this is one way to ensure that. I don't think I need to spend any more time on it. The setting is going back on. I guess removal is an option, but like the saying goes, I could tell you but then I would have to kill you. Sure, turn it off, you can, but expect death. Again, only choice is a LOL. I suppose the other consideration is going images only, but again, likely a "I could tell you but I would have to kill you" type situation. Was anyone desperate enough to turn off text ads because of this rectangle?
Sorry, but I can't resist. Having such a widespread blemish looking ad format across the WWW, isn't that going to put adblockers even more into popular use? I mean unless anyone can say their site is more beautiful, I'll stay with this opinion.
| 7:21 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
|I tried turning off enhanced text ads briefly also, and it turned the text size to a tiny font and stacked the ads horizontally |
The size of the unit matters (whether you're using enhanced ads or not). With smaller ad spaces, you get smaller arrows and smaller titles, for example.
I got tired of these huge arrows in square ads located in my sidebars and have taken a different approach. Note that I'm using responsive ads so exact sizes aren't available. With a responsive ad, you can set it's orientation to vertical, horizontal, rectangle or auto. Where I was using a single rectangle (square) ad before, I'm now using two stacked horizontals with no borders (could actually use three if you wanted to). The result takes up less space than the rectangle ad and instead of one HUGE blocky arrow sometimes and a panel layout other times, I always get two ads that (because they don't employ borders) simply look like two ads in one ad space. With enhancements on, you get two small arrows stacked and perfectly aligned and the titles, because you're restricting the size of the ads vertically, are more in tune with the rest of the text on the page. If you're against ugly websites, reducing the size of your ads can bring down the large-arrow shock factor and grouping ads can actually accomplish the same thing (with multiple units) that happens with larger single units (without the nasty side effect of panels with broken borders and randomly-sized ads in them).
| 8:23 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
I have seen those ridiculous 4-column ads with the micro-text. Don't want those.
I have made format changes, especially color. I will continue to do so.
I have removed old pages that have not been updated (didn't need to be, but I removed them anyway, for low traffic)
I have added popularity info for every page, in its respective index (this should help viewer use, by pointing them to the good stuff).
I have turned enhanced text ads back on (although I hate their look).
I have gone with "Text and Image" (although many tests have shown that images perform poorly for me).
I have gone with all 300x250 ads (although I made my big money with all 250x250 squares).
I have unblocked all general categories, as suggested by AdSense on my AdSense home page ("5% improvement").
I have placed AdSense ads on some popular, high-volume pages (which had been removed for very poor performance).
I have swallowed my pride, and begged for guidance. "Please, give me a hint." No hint is forthcoming.
I have removed several political pages which could be perceived as negative. Depending upon where you sit.
I have reduced my G+ authorship page 50%, and made the rest of it all nicey-nicey.
I have replaced my G+ photo with something "nicer", and more physical detail. (never shown, anyway)
My SERPs are still pretty darned good.
Speed tests always put me in the top 10%.
I remain on the xhit list. Most of my targeting is garbage.
What have I not done?
- Multiple ads per page
- Enabled the 1,300 third party ad purveyors
Still reading, still speculating.
Will posting on WebmasterWorld get you dinged? I have noticed that posting in the AdSense forum has dropped way off from historical levels. Do others know something that I don't?
What chu got?
Sorry. Just lost Internet. Comcast TV now freezes every day. Today, it is Internet access. The technology G0ds are conspiring against me. Oooooooooooooh. "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I'll eat some worms."
| 10:13 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
These are the settings I use and Google ads are doing their job, even with big ugly square arrows. Of course what works for one site may not work on another.
general categories - all on
sensitive categories - all on except ringtones and video games
certified ad networks - all on
ad serving - all on except Social ads
image/text all ad units
recommended ad sizes only.
Font size large, text Roboto light
I do block some advertiser, downloads, competitors and annoying ads.
Had a huge month April and May is looking good. (so far)
| 10:28 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
Here's one thing that has worked for me recently but a bit difficult to explain.
First thing to understand is that G is not so intelligent as some suppose. Often it has difficulty in understanding what various sections / segments in a page are about. Make it simple for G to understand what the different sections in a page is about. Hopefully this can be applied to many pages at a time on the same theme.
To do this be very clear and accurate about H1, H2 and so on segmentation. Keep them ordered correctly and place very clear descriptors in those H1, H2s etc. Try and keep the same structure to as many pages as possible to help G understand how your pages are structured.
| 10:56 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
The bottom line?
AdSense has decided that I should only make 1/10 the money for them that I have historically.
It doesn't compute. I ain't that bad.
| 11:28 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)|
|I have seen those ridiculous 4-column ads with the micro-text. Don't want those. |
Only 4? I've seen six ads in a standard leaderboard.
Here's a trick. Restrict your ad size to 468 x 60 but use it in the same space where you'd use a full leaderboard. The ads titles are more normal in size and less obnoxious generally. Put the unit inside a div with left and right margins set to auto to center it or use left align if that makes more sense in your layout. The point here is that leaderboard ads, large square ads and wide vertical ads can have a ridiculously large arrows and titles in them. You can use a smaller ad unit in a leaderboard area and get a much cleaner look out of it. Upsides include side by side (two-ad sets) that actually don't look to bad. Stack two horizontals to replace a square ad if possible. I'm suggesting that thinking smaller may be the ticket if you're really having problems with these units. If you're not having problems, well, keep on doing what you're doing, obviously.
Just throwing out ideas for what they're worth...
| 1:36 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)|
Having to resort to tricks, to get AdSense to serve decent ads?
Things have surely changed.
From partner to adversary?
Give them all your content, but don't expect anything in return?
This here game is changing mighty fast. Expect anything.
| 2:10 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)|
Sally, your site is largely informational, and maybe your demographic has changed somewhat - they're not coming to buy anything, they're coming to learn things, and they see the same ads everywhere now, so you have a far less chance of being the one who gets the click. Couldn't that have something to do with it?
| 2:20 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)|
Tricks? Maybe not. Here's a fact. "Enhanced" text ads are a beta-testing program and a great deal of people's revenue problems in recent months is tied directly to it. To make matters worse, un-enhanced text ads have been neutered a bit with the removal of underlined hyperlinks. There's plenty of evidence here that people have been suffering losses for months yet some of those same people are just now beginning to understand that Google's experiments are at the heart of the matter. This isn't about tricks. Adsense is a new product these days and people are either going to adapt to its nuances or they won't. It's a new language and folks will either learn to speak it or suffer. Some will get lucky but for most, evolution is gonna be a necessity.
The game is no longer the same and while I don't advocate obsessing over Adsense stats, I do advocate paying attention to what they are telling you. I also advocate paying attention to the visual nature of the Internet and continuing to improve the user experience for your visitors (an experience that includes advertising).
I plan on releasing a bit of information of my own in the coming weeks in order to clarify some of what I've been throwing out ad-hoc here for some time. The facts are rolling in and I find them quite enlightening even if no one else does.
Having a great day today and some new experiments are proving quite fruitful. More on that when they actually have a track record. For now, I'm back to work, studying the landscape, manipulating the user experience and looking for new doors to open...always.
| 2:53 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)|
|Couldn't that have something to do with it? |
I still get xx,xxx visitors a day.
Yesterday, I got 3 thank you emails, which I think is a record for 1 day. Usually, I get about 1 a day.
Desktop CTR - Was very good - is now very low
Tablet CTR - Was fantastic - is now microscopic
Mobile CTR - Was acceptable - is now microscopic
The suddenness of my demise belies the fact that I was slapped by a human reviewer. I can't conceive of any algo behaving in this manner. Somebody didn't like something about my site, and put me on the xhit list.
Plus, others are doing just fine.
May 1. Isn't that May Day?
In WW2, isn't that what the soldiers exclaimed when things got really bad, really fast?
MAYDAY! MAYDAY! (when under attack)
| 4:31 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)|
|The suddenness of my demise belies the fact that I was slapped by a human reviewer. |
Well, if you add a new algorithm to the mix, anything is possible. Unlikely that an algorithm changed it's mind about your site but it's entirely possible that you ran into some recently introduced logic (or lack thereof) spawned by an algorithm update.
BTW, every time I go to your site I see the exact same advertiser (begins with a K) which is plastered all over the Internet right now. Perhaps blocking that nonsense and giving some other advertisers a chance might have a positive impact on things.
| 5:26 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)|
Many thanks for the feedback.
I just visited lots of my pages. About 95% of my ads are the same (starts with an s). It is about as untargeted as you can possibly get, across many diverse subjects.
This is the best day for me in a week though (still low), so I am reluctant to block it. I would expect to see a CTR of 0.1 with these ads. Nothing will get substantially better until targeting returns.
Would YOU block it?
This "winning in the auction" business is pure nonsense. The ads are being force fed to the unlucky publisher, with no regard for targeting whatsoever. In 10 years, I have never seen this (except for that d@mned clothing ad, a few months ago). It is very hard to try and comprehend what they are trying to do with this. Dump the lousy ads on the publisher who has been singled out as irrelevant? That's how I read it. I am now the open receptacle for garbage, because it contributes to G's bottom line. Somebody's got to be the lackey, right? Now, its me.
There are many ads that must be served, or AdSense doesn't get paid. I am now receiving those ads, en masse. "Yeah, he is an idiot. Just serve the crud to him. We get to maximize the ad spend money from the ad buyers, and don't have to pay him much at all."
And forget about the "Ad Review" section. Although the ad appears on almost every page, it does NOT appear in the Ad Review Section. How convenient.
Today, my Scorecard is now giving me 4 blue dots for "Revenue Optimization". I expect to see 5 blue dots tomorrow. So what? It means nothing.
| 10:59 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)|
|About 95% of my ads are the same |
Unfortunately I seem to be in the same boat with a hardcore dozen or so advertisers but generally the same 3-4 appearing all the time, certainly that cannot help however I have no idea what is appearing in the US for example.
|Do others know something that I don't? |
Don't believe so, after 11 years of doing this the last 3 years have been a downhill, bucking fiasco for me, yes bucking as in saw tooth ups and downs. Google has never, and will never, give any sensible advice, only pathetic generics like "add more ads", and then the search department simply goes berserk and takes instant black and white decisions based upon nothing and wipes out a whole swathe of perfectly good sites.
Hey SS, I have 5 blue dots for "Revenue Optimization", whoopy do!