ascensions - 12:34 pm on May 1, 2011 (gmt 0)
@Shallow - From what I'm seeing, your leaderboard should be fine as long as it's not in between the title and the text. If it's above it- it should be fine... as should the other placements. The one that Google seems to be targeting is the "left floated/aligned" 336/300px-like boxes everyone is/was using pushing content down.
Where I'd be careful is how many ads you have in ratio to the amount of content. Say 1 ad per 250 words. If you have 3 ads on a page with 100 words then, I'd question that. Well, I wouldn't... The Google Regime would.
I think another important element here is screen width. Almost all the winners I've seen are sitting with a width of no less than 975px. Which means more content can be above the fold even with ads.
Of course I really must criticize Google on this, if this is the main course of Panda, it does little to improve the quality of the web, it merely makes things look better. More to the point the overall web will be less diverse and contain less content because of their censoring of those who don't adhere to their model. Which is the reason we're seeing scrapers, and information unrelated to our searches.
The other day I took my CR-48 on a road trip, and on searches to which I knew the expected SERP, I got rubbish. Couldn't even find the address for local restaurants. Heck couldn't even find their websites. It kept bringing stuff up in Vermont, even though I'm in NC... and I kept adding to the search phrase "Greensboro, NC"... If this current algorithm is working for Google, good for them, but I say this with no cynicism... I don't like the direction Google has gone with this, and I find it completely out of character with the company. If I owned stock, I'd sell it based on what I've seen in the last three months. I would have been reluctant to say that when it first happened, but the apparent behavior of a hubris blinded Google unwilling to change in light of the obvious overwhelming evidence to the contrary suggests to me something isn't right here.
If Microsoft was smart they'd use this discontent with the many Adsense publishers to entice them into their program. Google needs to step up and show some responsibility for their internal customers (us) and throw us a bone.