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Mobile devices and AdSense

Will it always be this way?

2:03 pm on Jan 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I haven't spent much time learning about sites for mobile devices - so forgive my ignorance.

My current understanding is if someone views my site from a mobile device they either won't see my AdSense ads or I won't earn anything from their clicks?

So I guess I need a mobile version of my site. If I currently have 10 sites that are updated daily, I need to have 10 more to have a mobile version of each site meaning I will then have 20 sites to update daily - doubling my workload? Will it always be this way?

What is a mobile device? Is an iPod accessing the Internet through a home wi-fi system still a mobile device as if it is accessing the Internet through a provider's wireless network?

Is my netbook with both wireless and wi-fi capabilities a mobile device?

Any practical information (hopefully accurate) is appreciated.

2:13 pm on Jan 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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What they mean by mobile devices in this case is "small screen" devices like phones, etc. You don't need 10 more sites. What you need is a mobile version of each site which would be served when a user access each site with those devices. Otherwise your sites would look like a royal mess on those small screens.
2:32 pm on Jan 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Is my netbook with both wireless and wi-fi capabilities a mobile device?

That one I can answer and it is no, netbooks are simply small laptops.

What you need is a mobile version

I have .mobi versions of my most popular sites yet no one uses them, they still use the full version even though it means scrolling all over the place.

Forgetting the social networking side of mobiles it would seem to me that many use their devices for confirming factual information more than anything else...certainly amongst the people I know.
2:58 pm on Jan 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Been thinking about it too.
  • "Mobile device" is not clearly defined as a pure standard with X or Z fixed properties, so we have armbooks, cell phones and multimedia players with internet access all with diff screen size and ways to access the web (pure browser, proxy or mobile view).
  • Making our sites accessible is not a problem as despite how they look, people still see our sites with what they have. The problem is to make them look pretty and still earn money the usual way, in this case, Adsense.

Access to the sites can be solved via CSS for mobile devices or scripts detecting the agent, browser and redirecting to an specific version of the site. I see this as a faster way to adapt our sites to mobile devices without doubling our mainteinance taks.

The problem is #1. Been testing with cell phones and diff OS and webbrowser software on my armbook. Depending on the browser there is a different "mobile view" created by the browser itself (thats variable A.) Some browsers variants of mobile view, so there not always ONE mobile view available (that would be A.1). I also found some browsers having "desktop view" where they try to show the webpage as it is on a desktop browser. Anyway it changes the look and possibilities to click the ads on a small screen (variable B). Well, you can still configure the browser to identified itself as whatever you want (IE, FFX, etc).

Most of all, some mobile browsers have some sort of proxy view or "alternate format" such as Opera Mini, where they don't use HTML. Your site is readed on their servers and an alternate version is sent back to your browser.

This last point is what matters to me as the ads are not showing anymore, so there is no way to earn money from those users, even if their screen size is one of the cell phone or even 10" on an armbook. I don't see how to fix this as a lot of the format will be interpreted by the servers so there is still work to do there on what will work and what wont (to still display the ads). I've seen local JS executed but external stripped.

I guess:
One solution would be to insert the ads with local JS (still not a guarantee) but images or text ads with redirection scripts would definitely work, but that's extra work. That wouldn't fit the "avoid this" proxies and server content conversion target for removal. A CSS trick would hide and show the options we want to depending the user.

The problem is still Adsense... we can't just create an alternate version of the served ad to be printed that way... (direct link). Modifying the ads is not allowed. In that case I think G has to work on it. Or, we could implement our own alternate AD system.

An alternate system could help. The way I see it, one average site with 3 Ad areas would mean some problem as a lot of mobile devices use gestures and having 3 ads on a small screen could mean invalid clicks. So, I think a mobile site could get away with 2 ads maximum (just my opinion).

I've been thinking on two possible solutions for this in my case.

A. Having my own CMS it is very easy for me to create an alternate version of my sites removing the Adsense tags and inserting some other way to earn money, even direct image or text ads. This way the pages will be serverd as pure html, no extra work required except creating the solution once.

B. Some sort of crawler and conversion tool. Been thinking on creating a script that reads the pages on my website (pure html) and convert them to text only + low res images + link structure. This way I could create a cache of the site for mobile browsers and insert there whatever I want. The difference from B to A would be, this could be installed on every site I use even if they work on a diff CMS. Only the new pages would be added and the redirection would take place via scripts too.

As I mentioned before the problem is to keep using Adsense without breaking the rules (modifing the code) and still serve the ads. I still think G has to work on this or give us some slack.
3:52 pm on Jan 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Last June Netmeg wrote a good discussion about mobile sites using Adsense for Mobile which solves the problem of non-javascript capable devices [webmasterworld.com...]

However, non-js phones are going out of use. Most smartphones are capable of displaying Adsense (except for the Blackberry). I think it would be simpler to maintain only the regular site and serve modified versions of it to smartphones using CSS.

Last year Google bought AdMob. Hopefully it will be rolled into Adsense to give us more options for smartphone ads.
4:01 pm on Jan 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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First of all, Farmboy, if you're using any kind of Analytics, I would go look at that and see what if any mobile devices are currently being used to access your site, and if you're getting any revenue from them.

Mobile devices with a real full featured browser (like iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and I assume Android devices) should see normal AdSense just as you place it now. Your big issue here will just be whether or not your site can be navigated on a smaller screen.

There are two types of AdSense for Mobile - one for smartphones (like iPhones etc) and a lightweight text ad version for internet enabled phones that don't have real browsers.

I was never able to get the latter one to work properly. I *did* get the smartphone ads running, and used them last year. They were somewhat successful. Since the normal ads can be viewed by smart phones, I don't see a lot of point to this offering, unless you're specifically making pages formatted for mobile. Also, the rules are different - for one thing, you can only have one ad block on a page, and I think there are restrictions where it can be placed too. You'd have to read up.

After my great Goin' Mobile experiment of 2010 (as outlined here: [webmasterworld.com...] ) I decided that while the smartphone ads made money, there's not a lot of point to serving them, since most of the browsers could handle my site just fine (and see the normal ads)

I also go back and forth about whether to automatically redirect mobile users to a stripped down page, or leave the choice to them. I have heard from vehement proponents of both sides to that argument.

So this year, I'm going to use a mobile plugin that will serve the site pretty much the way it looks now, and I will try to view it on every kind of internet-enabled phone I can get my hands on - but for the most part, I'm probably not going to worry about AdSense for Mobile. I'll just serve the straight ads.

What I did find out last year is that at peak, almost a third of the visits to my sites came in via mobile devices. That's pretty significant to me, so I'm concentrating more delivering a good user experience, and once I feel I have that locked down, then I'll figure out the best way to monetize it.

[edited by: netmeg at 4:04 pm (utc) on Jan 27, 2011]

4:02 pm on Jan 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Opps, Leonard0 slipped in while I was writing that. Teach me to take so long, heh.
1:40 pm on Jan 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I guess anything that's not Windows, Mac OS, or desktop Linux constitutes a mobile device.

Here's what I do: perform device detection - if device show mobile ad - else show normal ad.

I am using the lib mdetect.php, lightweight, simple and works great. I would highly recommend using mobile ads, conversion is surprisingly quite good.