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AdSense Auto Ads Review: Yes, With Caution

Stored in Advertising and tagged
Google AdSense strategy

Google AdSense Auto Ads offer website publishers a chance to make more money with less work. It’s a tempting offer.

Publishers that used only AdSense to generate revenue traditionally placed a piece of AdSense code on each location on a page where they wanted an ad to appear.

They could then track the performance of that placement to see if it was effective. They could change the color, move the ad or delete it altogether. They could switch among text only, images only or both. (Text only is no longer an option.)

The downsides for publishers include remembering to review performance on a regular basis or even knowing how to make a placement more effective.

Google took its first steps into Auto Ads by offering, for example, a single piece of code that would insert ads automatically into various locations in an article. Google has taken an even bigger step by promoting the use of a single piece of code to display all ads — wherever and whenever Google wants to display them.

In the AdSense console, go to Ads to see how to implement them. Note the text in the middle of the page that says, “Let Google place ads for you”. From there, choose either By Site or By Ad Unit.

For By Site, click on the icon that looks like a pencil to get the code and “Apply to site”.

Better Auto Ads

This review looks at the latest advancement in Auto Ads, which involves putting only one piece of code on a site.

A test of this site leads to the following observations:

  1. Yes, adding only one block of code is a piece of cake.
  2. Losing the ability to measure the performance of individual ads is a big and disconcerting mindshift.
  3. Some publishers may want to still use certain manually added features such as Matched Content.
  4. Space is used more efficiently.
  5. Site design may encounter new flaws

The last two observations are worth more attention. AdSense increasingly is delivering no ads at all. Publishers can find out more by looking at the Coverage report.

Although this site has high coverage, other publishers report coverage as low as 50 percent. AdSense no longer offers publishers the ability to fill an ad space with a backup source, so the end result is simply a large blank spot. It doesn’t look good. So be on the lookout for any negative impact on design.

AdSense might also deliver low-quality ads. While it’s still possible with Auto Ads, the product offers a tool under the Ad Load report that allows a publisher to control the number of ads on a site.

A high “load” increases the number of low quality, poorly paying ad units. A low load offers the opposite. Publishers also can exclude certain pages from the program.


Auto ads is a step forward in simplifying the display of ads on a site. But it comes with a loss of control and analysis.

Publishers have the option of adding the code and testing the results. They can always remove the code if the test doesn’t meet their expectations and revert to manually placed code.

It makes sense to compare the resulting CPMs for the site as a whole to see any differences.

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