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Mobile revenue drop in May?

     
4:20 pm on May 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi guys, first time poster, if i'm out of line let me know.

I've checked the last 2 months of posts and did not see anyone reporting loss of revenue from mobile specifically, I've read the whole "May thread" and users only report a general drop.

Thanks to that post I learned (yes, just now!) the adpocalypse of 18th of December, the AdSense crawler issue of "fresh content", on my website the users study and do tests generating an unique URL for their tests, since December that my impressions / coverage dropped a bit (https://i.imgur.com/eSYon5q.png). You can see an increase today because I changed the way I handle tests, I've contacted google as suggested by NickMNS but the 48 hour limit passed two days ago.

Now, one issue (almost) solved, the other one is the drop in mobile revenue, I've noticed a major drop in mobile revenue / CTR even with steady visits, beginning in late April: [i.imgur.com...] I've made no code changes in this time frame. The worst part is that I have 50% mobile traffic, the website is fully responsive, so effectively I'm losing almost half the revenue. And from May 14th on, CPM bids went completely dead, too: [i.imgur.com...]

Do you have any clue what is going on? Am I missing something obvious?

Even though I don't see much ads in mobile (blank ads) the coverage does not reflect the ads I'm not seeing, but the clicks and CTR clearly dropped (https://i.imgur.com/A8ndvbe.png).
8:25 pm on May 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi Pedro_M,

More discussion on May's (desktop & mobile) earnings here: [webmasterworld.com...]
9:04 pm on May 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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You can see an increase today because I changed the way I handle tests

That looks good, something positive that will continue moving forward.

48 hour limit passed two days ago.

I don't know what's up with support, the last ticket I opened ended with a we're looking into it and we will get back to you. Its been months....

And from May 14th on, CPM bids went completely dead, too

CPM bids only come from 3rd party networks. AdWords only uses CPC or AV-CPM. Have you switched off 3rd party networks?

I've noticed a major drop in mobile revenue / CTR even with steady visits, beginning in late April

My guess is that this is due to change where by AdSense has begun to roll out lazy loading of ads, such that ad units will only be shown if they become visible to the user. This maybe impacting you in mobile due to your responsive design that pushes all the content and ads down into one long vertical column. As a result users never scroll to the some of the ads. Whereas on desktop the ads are mostly visible or at least seen by the users. This should also result in ad impressions. What does the ad impressions chart look like?

The issue with CPM bids may be related to this as well, no impression, no CPM. Also, CTR/CPC should be unaffected, as users were never able to click on ads they didn't see.
12:46 am on May 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi NickMNS, thank you for the detailed response.

That looks good, something positive that will continue moving forward.


Well we should not have to make this change, now I have to be careful about pages that are unique, I solved that by changing "tests/permalink" to "test/result", it worked for ads, the coverage shoot up from 15 - 20% to 80 - 90+, but the user experience suffered since there is no more permalink on the address bar. I'm hopeful that support puts the domain on a whitelist like you reported.

I don't know what's up with support, the last ticket I opened ended with a we're looking into it and we will get back to you. Its been months....


I've never got a response from any google service, it's the first time contacting support so I was not expecting a response whatsoever but support replied yesterday to both requests, the same they told you, they will investigate and will report back, I hope that they don't take more than a month to get back.

CPM bids only come from 3rd party networks. AdWords only uses CPC or AV-CPM. Have you switched off 3rd party networks?


Thank you for the insight, I did not know that. I have everything enabled, all the settings and all the networks since I was using Ad Balance and after enabling this feature I stopped seeing the low quality ads I had no reason to disallow ad networks. Since this issues I've disabled Ad Balance to check the coverage across the website.

My guess is that this is due to change where by AdSense has begun to roll out lazy loading of ads, such that ad units will only be shown if they become visible to the user. This maybe impacting you in mobile due to your responsive design that pushes all the content and ads down into one long vertical column. As a result users never scroll to the some of the ads. Whereas on desktop the ads are mostly visible or at least seen by the users. This should also result in ad impressions. What does the ad impressions chart look like?


I don't believe that the lazy loading is happening (only on mobile?) because I learned in the forums to check in chrome dev tools the ads being lazy loaded, I see the normal behavior, the ads are blank sometimes even on a banner I have on top always ATF, more noticeable on incognito mode (chrome mobile). Second, if that was happening I would see a huge drop in impressions as you said. This are the ad requests, impressions and earnings [i.imgur.com], no noticeable change from the last months.

What it looks like to me is that no one is bidding on my mobile ad units, like they are not valuable and get no ad, the requests are there, the impressions (this on is confusing to me) are there, but the creative is not. This is the CTR on mobile [i.imgur.com]. Do you notice the spikes in May? A difference I found between a higher CTR / earnings day (spike) and a flat day is this: "good days" 6 of May [i.imgur.com] and 11 of May [i.imgur.com] vs "flat days" 16 of May [i.imgur.com]. The clicks disappeared, Impression RPM is 1/10th, the impressions are similar and as you can see the third party networks vanished only AdWords shows, this only happens in mobile, desktop on both days is similar.

Something I should mention, when I say mobile, I'm only referring to "high-end mobile devices" because tablets are behaving like desktop, no changes.

I've spent several days looking at all the metrics and I can't figure this one out. I've changed no code in this time frame. My mobile traffic is valued at 5% of what it used to be, I've lost almost 50% of my revenue, the traffic is there, the monetization is not.
2:15 am on May 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This is very strange indeed. Clearly this is not being caused by lazy loading of the ads, because of the steady impressions and the fact that the CTR plummeted along with the CPM bids.

I would further investigate the fact that all third party ad impressions disappear for mobile. But besides that there isn't really much I can help you with. This issue must be raised with AdSense support. My guess is that they will get back to you with some basic answer that is not really relevant that suggests that it is normal and/or your own fault. These answers are typical. In such as case be sure to reply back politely stating that they are mistaken and point them to the metrics that show the issue. Eventually, they come around and see the issue, at which point they tend be very helpful. It is tough getting to that point sometimes. What also happens at times, is that while doing the initial back and forth the problem sorts itself out.

Good luck!
9:54 am on May 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thank you NickMNS for the reply and "how to deal with support quick guide". I will wait for support and (hopefully) when the issue is resolved I will update the thread to help future users.
3:29 am on June 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi @NickMNS, did you get this resolved? I just ran into the EXACT same issue!

My desktop CPC and CPM bids are solid. My mobile CPC bids are the same as always. My mobile CPM bids have gone from a quite large number daily to virtually zero almost overnight. It doesn't make sense...
12:42 pm on June 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@e1superman, first Welcome to WebmasterWorld.

By your description:
My desktop CPC and CPM bids are solid.

It seems very unlikely that your are being impacted by the "Brand Safety" update. Also, the update occurred last December so the impact would have been felt since then.

My guess, based on what your are describing is that you might be being impacted by a double click measure that has been reported by several other users in the June AdSense thread:
[webmasterworld.com...]
This is when a user clicks on an ad, instead of the user being directly to the landing page an interstitial appears asking the user to confirm that they really intended to click. This is most typically seen on mobile where accidental clicks are prevalent.
6:59 pm on June 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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How would you recommend recovering from the double click measure?
7:14 pm on June 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure. I haven't been impacted by this directly so I haven't put much thought or work into finding a solution. But my instinct would be to look at ad placement, and be sure that ads are placed such as to minimize the risk of accidental clicks.

I would check CTR performance of each of you ad units and compare. Then look at the page layout of the pages where the best performing ad-units appear to see if the placement can be optimized to minimize the probability of accidental clicks. (eg: avoid placing ads near buttons or menu items etc...)
7:20 pm on June 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Iíve had this happen before and after some time if goes away. Iím just trying to find a way to prevent it from ever happening again. I agree and a few good points Iím going to make on my site is adding advertisement tags, more spacing between ads and a good amount of distance from any navigation
7:40 pm on June 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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You could try adding the word Advertisement right above the ads spot. Depending on your website [you said users run reports], the ads being generated may look like the "action" button for the next step on your website and users are accidwntly clicking it at to high of a rate with lots of back button requests to find the real button for the report. We've all had this happen a time or two
7:42 pm on June 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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So you two have dealt with the double click measure? How long did it take to recover and did you make any changes?
11:56 am on Sept 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi guys, our issue is solved as of September, after months in contact with AdSense Support, they were completely clueless about our issue and did not help at all, last contact with support they said this:

Thanks for your patience here! After the investigation from our engineering team, I just heard back from our specialist who let us know that they reviewed the performance again and mentioned that the drop in RPM came from a drop in CTR around the end of April

Sorry for the delay, I checked the trends with fresh eyes. It seems that the lower RPM was driven by a drop in CTR around the end of April, which also coincided with an increase in pageview invalid activity (so bad traffic coming to the page).

They recommended following the guidelines at [support.google.com...] so that you can avoid this kind of traffic on your site.


They did not clarify what is "bad traffic" and we haven't seen anything difference in traffic so in conclusion the issue fixed itself or support did not want to tell us what it was.

We tried multiple solutions without any change:

- All new ad units;
- Turn on / off ad balance;
- Changed implementation to match exactly the support pages;
- Tried to use responsive ads with auto sizing and in by using sizes in adsense JS;
- Turn on / off Full Width Responsive;
- Toggle Ad Format from "general shape" to "auto";
- Turn on / off Page level ads;

After fiddling with adsense code and settings we though it could be our JS ou CSS messing with adsense code, we copied some articles to a blank HTML page and added only adsense code, exactly like the help pages and started testing there, a clean article.

The issue was still there, we tried responsive ads, non responsive ads, all the above settings. The only thing that would show some change was removing:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1" />


This way the browser was not telling adsense to detect as mobile and the correct device width, the ads would behave correctly and had no issue but the webpage would stop being responsive and the user experience would be terrible.

With this in mind, we are sure that the issue has to do with something that adsense was doing with mobile traffic, detected via the meta tag viewport.

We shared all our findings with AdSense Support and they come up with nothing still.

I hope you all have your issue solved too, we've lost a third of our revenue since May until September when the issue was fixed.
 

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