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Why do responsive ads perform so poorly?

     
9:07 am on Jun 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Having seen a significant rise in mobile use this year, and noticing some pages with high mobile use have a very poor "Active View Viewable" percentage, I decided to replace our top leaderboard with a responsive ad unit.

I've heard some negative things about the performance of responsive ads - so rather than leave it to Adsense, I took control over what size ad was shown: People with a screen big enough to see a leaderboard, get shown the leaderboard they would have seen anyway, otherwise, a banner or 320 ad unit is shown instead depending on screen size.

Result? A small boost in "Active View Viewable", but overall CTR is down, CPC is down and RPM is down.

Given that the only people affected by this change are seeing a whole ad instead of part of one, it's hard to see how this can perform worse than the previous setup - but it does. Presumably there's very little inventory available in the smaller units so prices are super-low.

I don't like showing leaderboards that don't fit on people's screens - it looks scrappy - but it's too big a revenue drop to go responsive at the moment.

Anyone else experiencing something similar?
11:40 am on June 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Possibly because average ecommerce conversion rates are about 1.xx%- 2.xx% for mobile and 2.xx% - 3.xx% for tablets, with desktop conversions in the 4.xx% range.

If consumers aren't buying then the advertisers aren't paying. It's useful to think in terms of where the advertiser is, how competitive and lucrative the advertising space is in order to understand your AdSense earnings.

[edited by: martinibuster at 12:28 pm (utc) on Jun 20, 2016]

12:11 pm on June 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Our responsive ads perform extremely well; however, we only use them for mobile/tablet, and stick to standard leaderboards for desktop traffic.
1:13 pm on June 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Our responsive ads perform extremely well;


And why do you think they perform so well? Is there a match between the content of your site and mobile? Is the site mobile specific? Audience age?

Specifics aren't necessary but a little more detail would be helpful. ;)
2:47 pm on June 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Just to clarify, I'm saying that compared to our previous layouts ( 1. Not having responsive pages / 2. Having responsive pages with standard ad units (such as 300x250) / 3. Using responsive units ), #3 performed best relative to the other configurations. Agreed that absolute performance depends on many factors, but in relative terms they seem to perform well for us.
3:37 pm on June 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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7_driver, I would be interested if this is a statistically valid comparison based on sufficient data.

Because of 'rumours' about poor performing responsive ads I have tested this a lot over the last year or two and never found a statistically valid difference between responsive and non-responsive ads (I always specify ad sizes in responsive ads though, had a few issues early on when google tried to guess the best size to use although I think they have solved these now)
3:49 pm on June 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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My responsive ads do not perform any worse than the non responsive did. Actually the EPC is much better. The CTR is way down, but I don't attribute that to responsive.