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Perhaps the content to ads ratio is all wrong and I need to thin out the ads a little.
I would look at this, and also at ad placement. If at first glance the ads stand out more than the content, that could be your problem.
Should removing ads works in the case of mike2010's adult site, then we can assume that google finds adsense to be "lower quality" than adult content.
I mean, with all due respect to mike2010, how bad do the ads have to be to drag down the quality of an adult site?
I haven't tried it myself - but I want to add that Google mentions in at least one patent the possibility of using the quality of advertisers to influence the quality measure for the site hosting the ads.
I am not very familiar with screen resolutions but if I had a big rectangle at the top of a page, would that take up most of the screen on a mobile phone and a lot of screen space on a tablet?
I serve a small 468x90 ad in the header, and there is a 468x90 ad at the end of the article so the advert to content ratio is actually quite small on the site in question - with me only using 2 of the 3 possible ads!