Important news arrived in my inbox yesterday from AdSense (as I mentioned in yesterdays post). I didn’t initially publish it because it wasn’t public – but other bloggers have done so making my keeping to my agreement with Google not to write about it fairly pointless (one of the problems with NDAs I guess). So here goes.
The short of it is that AdSense making changes to text ads so that instead of getting clicks when people click anywhere on an ad unit (including the background of ads) clicks will only work (and we’ll only get paid) when there is a click on an actual title or URL in the ad.
No longer valid are clicks on the background and clicks on the text that isn’t the title or URL in the ad.
The reasoning for this given by AdSense:
“We’re rolling out a change to our text ad formats to help reduce accidental clicks and increase value for advertisers…..This new format will match the changes we’ve implemented on Google.com to help decrease the number of accidental clicks and increase the number of ad conversions. A reduction in accidental clicks will keep users on your pages, interacting with your content until they choose to click on an ad. This change will enhance the user’s overall experience with your websites and improve advertiser campaign value, but it’s likely that your click-through rate will decrease.”
This is going to cause some debate among publishers. On the one hand this has the potential to hurt publishers in the short term at their bottom line as it’ll lead to less clicks. I know some publishers who are already emailing to say that they are very disappointed that AdSense have changed the rules.
On the flip side – there are some good things about this in terms of readers accidentally clicking ads. Good for readers, good for advertisers – which indirectly could be argued to be good for publishers.
Reminds me of when Chitika made the images in their ad units not clickable (because they were getting too high a CTR and costing advertisers too much). The uproar among publishers at that time was not pretty!
AdSense acknowledge that this change ‘may result in a RPM decrease for some publishers in the short term’ but say that they expect it to lead to increased spending by advertisers in the long run.
Again – I understand it – but I suspect that many publishers will look to other alternatives if they see a noticeable decrease in earnings.
update: AdSense have now announced the changes on their blog.