A few weeks ago, Google AdSense updated their ad placement policies and made a significant change to the famous ad limit, the number of ads allowed on a single page. It is almost uncovered by other media or even the AdSense blog itself, so let me summarize the change and the implications in this post.
The old ad limit per page
In the first half of 2016, there was an explicit limit for ads on a page. This is the exact list from the AdSense placement policies:
- Up to three AdSense for content units
- Up to three link units
- Up to two search boxes
Furthermore, there was a limit of one large ad unit per page.
Publishers may not place more than one “large” ad unit per page. We define a “large” ad unit as any unit similar in size to our 300×600 format. For example, this would include our 300×1050 and 970×250 formats, our 750×200 and 580×400 regional formats, and any other custom sized ad with comparable dimensions.
There was no discussion about this limit. Many publishers who didn’t find this part in the placement policies didn’t know if link units and content ad units count together in the three ads limit, but this was it.
The latest change will definitely lead to more confusion.
Ad limit now
You can read up on the updated version of the ad limit here or find the most important paragraph below:
Advertising and other paid promotional material added to your pages should not exceed your content. Furthermore, the content you provide should add value and be the focal point for users visiting your page. For this reason, we may limit or disable ad serving on pages with little to no value and/or excessive advertising until changes are made.
What this actually reminds me of are a lot of statements made by Google in terms of search engine optimization. There are no specific numbers, but rather a demand for balance between content and other elements.
I often get asked by users about AdSense allowing to display ads from other networks together with AdSense ad units. The answer is and was always “yes” and this is also reflected in the policies now. It is no longer an AdSense ads limit, but an ad limit in general. In my understanding, this also applies to other elements like affiliate links.
What are too many ads?
I know that it is a tough task to know when you have “too many” ads on your site, because this is a personal opinion and you will always have the feeling that you might be able to earn more with an additional ad.
While not scientifically methods, here are a few suggestions how you can determine if you have too many ads:
- Ask visitors for an honest opinion.
- Check your site for a clear call to action. Do ads draw the attention away from your content?
- Check your site with different devices. Is it possible to see more than 2 ads at the same time?
Those are just test questions, but might help.
What is AdSense doing to enforce the ad limit?
I believe that there will not be much change in handling this policy, because it is in fact something that existed before.
On many websites you could see more than 3 content ad units already without the site having a specific deal with AdSense or an agency. On others, the fourth and later ad space just stayed blank when included on purpose or by accident. This practice of a technical enforced limit is probably being kept up by AdSense.
While I believe that AdSense has the power to scan sites for the amount of content and ad units automatically, they will probably review cases of possible violations of the policies manually, especially from larger publishers with older accounts.
Like with all violations of this kind, I expect publishers to being informed about possible issues with a deadline to fix it.
Removing the ad limit in Advanced Ads
Our Advanced Ads plugin for ad management in WordPress has an ad limit setting for AdSense ad units by default. With the specific ad limit removed, I am thinking about keeping this setting, but removing the default state of this option from being enabled to disabled, so it is possible to show more AdSense ad units.
This is where I would like to get your input. Do you find the default AdSense ad limit should be removed from the plugin or not?
(poll removed due to outdated information)
Update: due to the clear direction of the votes, the AdSense limit is now disabled by default. New users can still activate it though.