A question was recently asked in the March Earnings and Observations thread that goes like this...
How is it possible to go from my best day of the year to my worst?
Well, my reply could easily become a full-blown rant but I'll do my best to just keep this constructive, if possible.
The answer to the above question, IMHO, is "experimentation."
Today, I saw something that surprised me but is in line with other things I've seen where G's text ad formats are concerned, that being, no panel ads (at least in Firefox). Today, after watching no movement of consequence in my Adsense reports, I went looking for the reason. Traffic? Just fine. While researching my next "usual suspect," "irrelevant ads," I discovered that some of my rectangular ad blocks are now showing 5 ads with very small titles stacking into the space. What was once contained an overpowering ad Title, now almost disappears on the page in a block of tiny, faint text. Where there were panels, now there is a washed out block of uninteresting text with no hyperlinks visible.
What's even more bizarre is that on one page where I have two units, one is showing round arrows and the other is not. Both are responsive units (different ad codes) and take up approximately the same space. One contains 4 ads and another contains 5.
This recent behavior of cramming ads into a space first became apparent to me a few weeks ago I think when I notices a leaderboard ad with 6 side-by-side ads in it. The visual effect was similar, washed out, tiny, and no real call to action for the scanning viewer.
I guess where the rant could come in is related the fact that I've spent some serious time fine-tuning my ad presentation for those large ad titles only to now have those spaces turned into visual mush with another radical ad format change.
Anyway, to answer the question above, the unpredictability of what can show up in an ad space these days is off the charts and it's changing from day to day. This perfectly explains why people can have a killer day one day and then go a whole day the next with practically nothing to show for it.
I'll pass along the following suggestions which are a band-aid at best if you're seeing this.
1. Turn on display ads or at least "Text and Display ads" temporarily. This can help to a minor degree if you normally rely totally on text ads.
2. Try to intensify the colors in your ad titles so that these pesky little things will stand out better. It will also adjust your big bold titles but may give you a better chance with the small ones.
Do nothing and wait for the madness to subside. The choice is yours but I seriously think this new development is what's causing some big swings. Factor in irrelevant ads and the picture makes a bit more sense.
I've chosen to do some color changes and image ad experiments in some places during these periods but am leaving others alone. Will let you know if I find one approach more viable than another as the results come in.