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AdSense Make Ad Units Less Clickable

Posted By Darren Rowse 14th of November 2007 Adsense 0 Comments

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No longer valid are clicks on the background and clicks on the text that isn’t the title or URL in the ad.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.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Wow. This is really going to affect earnings for many publishers. I can’t tell you how many times I went to click “download” on something, and clicked a Google Ad accidentally.

  2. Boooo. There goes all my revenue from stoned teenagers browsing the internet at three in the morning.

  3. I’ll be honest, I was always annoyed as a user because of the whole block being clickable. It’s fine if the whole block was an image, but with text ads it breaks the whole web aesthetic for me.

    As a publisher, it was easy to take advantage of this quirk, but as they say, the clicks have bad conversion rates. Some might go so far as to say it could create animosity towards you and the advertiser.

    I for one have no problem with this if the lower number of clicks means higher payout for clicks as they will have a higher conversion rate.

    I just recently added AdSense to a 12 year old holiday site and I was impressed with the income it’s generating on just a test case this season.

    Time will tell and I for one and willing to take a wait and see attitude.


  4. I think this is a great idea. Publishers shouldn’t be paid for a visitor’s slip of the mouse button in a clickable region of the ad unit.

  5. It will be interesting to see how this affects things. If you do standard AdSense integration, though, you’d normally make the ad titles look like normal links anyhow, and so visitors were probably clicking those anyway.So I suspect that for many publishers it won’t make a big difference.

  6. nice.!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. will definitely see significant drop on some webmasters adsense earnings.

  8. this is a great move from google adsense, honesty pays, less clicks = higher inventory = higher $ for each click = better for adsense and publisher.

  9. WOW Google is getting on my nerves now – first they try to take over the world and now they are stopping people from earning money – its a good thing I remove my adsense while ago!

  10. That is going to significantly affect the earnings of a lot of people using adsense. But I guess google has to do what is best for its advertisers.

  11. This is good as advertisers will begin to pay more since it will be a higher quality.

  12. Geez, I must be really stupid since I always thought that the only way to click on an ad was by the title or the url. Never thought of clicking the background.

  13. Anyone who makes money blogging doesn’t use Adsense…

  14. I agree with this, especially after having seen one too many web sites skirting around the edges of the rules with things like important text links right beside AdSense, so just being one pixel out can result in an unwanted click.

    I think most of the compaints are going to come from MFAs, proxies and certain download sites.

  15. I have to agree that this is bad news. My affiliate income passed my adsense income a while ago and maybe it is time to do away with the adsense altogether so that I can get a better bang for my buck with affiliate clicks in good places on the pages instead.

    Does anyone know if a site really would get punished by Google for getting rid of the adsense? It only makes sense that they would want to include sites that are earning them income.

  16. Wow, quite the change. I think it should help in the end, but I expect things to go down in the short term. I just hope that it really does pick up when it does!

  17. I’m shocked that so many people are concerned about loss of money on their sites from this change. It should pay off more in the long run and will have a temporary setback as clicks go down.

    I personally want to see people stay at my website, not clicking ads as I’d rather deliver some good content they get value from then get so easily (or previously, accidentally) jumped off to some other page with an ad-click. Guess a lot of bloggers here are about the earnings though, not the blog itself. Its not surprising I guess, this is pro-blogger.

    This is a good thing people. Google knows what they are doing when it comes to advertising money.

  18. If there isn’t a lot of possibility for confusion or accidental ad clicking on your website, I don’t see how this will make that much of a difference. Most people know enough to click on a colored link or URL.

    This doesn’t exactly match the active zones on Google.com; there, you have to click on the ad title itself. Clicking on the URL at the bottom of an ad unit at Google.com has no effect.

  19. I really don’t know what to think about this. On one hand, I understand Google’s reasoning, but on the other I don’t recall ever accidentally clicking an ad – even when I ventured onto a site that was attempting to get me to do so. It truly does seem that the bottom line is the advertising costs, with the excuse of accidental ad clicking being some sort of lip service to publishers. I’m sure it happens, but I’m pretty sure most people know how to aim their mouse, or they probably wouldn’t be checking out blogs and content based sites in the first place.

  20. iantrepreneur you git. Do you think the ONLY way we make money with AdSense is because people accidentally click ads? I haven’t seen a drop in my few dollars a day earnings yet :)

  21. Either way, most of us will know within a few months if these changes will increase or decrease our income.

    I believe Darren has said it before…that most of us have to find other sources as a back-up and perhpas this will be the event that forces a lot of us to look elsewhere if we see our income tumble.


  22. I am happy about this! I can’t stand it when I accidentally click on an ad and get taken away from the site I am on.

  23. i agree with Kat
    Will stop me accidentally clicking on the ads but at same time genuine people will need be care to click correctly.

  24. will definitely see significant drop on some webmasters adsense earnings.

  25. I am sure this will reduce my income.let us see when google will start implementing it. will post the comment again after i watch the results. Great info Darren.

  26. In all fairness, this is a good development. Advertisers must not pay hard earned cash for accidental clicks in a clickable region of the ad unit.

  27. I am still looking forward to how the new ad will help us earn more with more targeted way to clicking, the advertisers will sure be paying more, will they?

  28. when is this effective? this is kinda bad….someone may just intentionally click those area to view ads.

  29. It’s a pit that Adsense is becoming harder to make money on… Perhaps it’s just a sign that Google is becoming too dominant in the market place. Anyway, that makes eleven reasons not to use Adsense or dump it if you already do.


  30. Google loose $ 90 million for this last year and now, they charging us by decreasing our click-through rate. By the way, it’s benefit the advertisers more and of course, Google also had a big pie of cash for this. Once again, users always be the place to be slapped by Google.

    It’s users make them what they are now.Users will alway be victorious and of course, they will losing their credibility and their solely aim about how Google will established as the most accurate and quality search engine provider.

  31. The adsense ad units being less clickable with reduce the amount of money we make but i cant believe it will be by that much, have to wait and see how it goes

  32. in the long run cost per clicks should increase.

  33. I’m a little confused. So the text area is still clickable, but clicks won’t be registered? Or will the text area no longer be clickable?

  34. I think (hope) that only those publishers will earn less where the ad placements are chosen to get accidental clicks.

    If you place your ads on a normal way (like suggested from Adsense) the CTR should be the same.

  35. say goodbye to accidental click..now welcome to quality click..fraud click? huhu go away you!!

  36. Fair enough making the background no longer click able to prevent accidental clicks, but I think ALL the text should have remained click-able.

  37. People before Google, kudos Darren!

    I’d like to add that Google has some adsense blocks in testing that allow you to modify them with css and allow you to alter the logo, I think this move has the new ad types in mind. I’m not breaking any NDAs with this because the new ads are public and part of beta testers accounts… like this one on the top right side. http://www.patrickokeefe.com/

  38. Google must have got too many complaints from advertisers and after all, they are the ones that bring in the money.

  39. I dont think it will affect more to publisher coz user only click reasonable adv ..

  40. well, good move by Google. it will decrease accidental clicks and will give advertiser more trust on the system.

  41. Given that I prefer my users to only click on ads that they are interested in, rather than making money from people accidently clicking on an ad , i think this is a great change.

    Now if only they would add the ability to use an underline rollover/hover effect, to further emphasise the fact that its a link……

  42. If it reduces click through rates then adsense publishers are going to make less money. Google also loses with less clicks but I guess that if advertisers don’t find value in the advertising then they aren’t going to use it.

  43. Nice to see Google training their monkeys properly!

  44. Surley the earnings per click will increase because advertisers will be able to bid higher if the are getting higher converting traffic than before… just a theory.

  45. I think it’s nonesense. Most of the users click anywhere on the ad. Why shouldn’t they click on text?? I guess google making it harder to use their ads.
    I don’t think that advertisers will increase their click rates.

  46. Glad it’s gone; accidental clickage isn’t being nice to our readers.

  47. Being a publisher myself I am sure that this will lead to my CTR falling, but thinking of it from an advertisers point of view it will lead to more successful conversions rather than accidental ones. Which will in effect lead to advertisers paying more for CPC, and that will in effect HOPEFULLY be passed onto the publishers.

    Google is a advertiser and what they are doing is servicing their clients, they have to keep them happy if they want them to stay with them instead of going to someone like Azoogle.

  48. AdBlock Plus for Firefox makes ad units non-clickable. No (or fewer) ads to click.

  49. Adsense no 1 prio is to keep their advertisers happy and this click policy is their exact target. While the advertisers will be content about this change, the publishers will surely he unhappy to say the least. Keep in mind that many webmasters use Adsense for it’s “cloaking” ability to embed the link ads into their theme.

  50. Not that I get an overabundance of clicks, but I like to think that the few I get everyday are because people genuinely wanted to know more about that particular product and not because I somehow made it easy to make mistakes.

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