A month ago we converted one of our websites from HTTP to HTTPS. Little did we know that this will cause a disruption in our ad setup. Learn more about the lessons we learned in this article.

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Why did we move to HTTPS?

HTTPS encrypts all requests and responses to and from our website, allowing a secure communications. There are two reasons why we wanted to use a secure communication.

The main motivation was to protect our personal data including everything we do in our WordPress dashboard. At first we thought about changing the protocol just for the dashboard but then we decided to use it in the frontend as well and make sure that all of our visitors information are send savely too.

The second reason is that we travel often and hence use a lot of different WiFi networks. We wanted to feel more secure and protected in those situations.

At the beginning we decided to make this change just for one of our websites to see what can go wrong by this change. Our goal is still to use SSL encryption for all of our websites.

Ads on HTTPS pages?

After we have switched to HTTPS we noticed that some ads were missing on the website. We checked all of the pages and noticed that the ads from some particular ad networks are definitely not being delivered after this change.

Ads fail to be delivered because HTTPS web sites require that the entire content of the page, including the ads, is sent over a secure connection too. We contacted networks in question and found out that some of them do not serve ads on the HTTPS pages at all, while others (e.g.Creafi ), just needed to update our ad tags.

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Ad Networks that do not serve ads on HTTPS web pages

One of the ad networks that worked very successful for us was SwitchAds. Since they do not deliver ads to secured pages we have lost approximately 500$ per month from SwitchAds directly plus almost the same amount from the fallback ads without having a proper replacement at hand right away.

Another ad network with which we were very satisfied was PixFuture. The RPM was quite good as well and we almost recommended this network, but with the problem on HTTPS secured websites we have to find a proper replacement for them as well.

Ad Networks that serve ads on HTTPS web pages

There are of course some ad networks which support secure ad serving on HTTPS web pages, such as AdSense.

Running AdSense on HTTPS sites

However, if you check AdSense Help for this matter you will find out that switching to HTTPS might reduce your earnings. That can happen because AdSense removes non-SSL compliant ads from the auction which will result in reducing auction pressure. As a consequence from this your earnings could be lower.

We were either lucky and this scenario did not happen in our case or there are already enough ads compatible with HTTPS. Our earnings from AdSense were actually even higher in the month after we switched to HTTPS protocol.

Some other ad networks that serve the ads on HTTPS web pages are ValueBrand (Germany), RTB, Chalk Social.

Running DFP on HTTPS sites

We can also confirm that ads served with tags from DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) are working without the need to change the code. Of course, only if you didn’t alter the tags somehow.

Not switching to HTTPS

When we wanted to switch to HTTPS on our German website we have contacted important networks to see whether their ads are SSL-compliant, instead of switching to HTTPS immediately and hoping for the best.

The biggest (and local) ad network we use there serves HTTPS ads, but with a significant reduction in revenue as a consequence, because they will also remove non-SSL compliant ads from the ad auctions, which will reduce auction pressure and our revenue. As they put it, it is not the fault of the network, but the agencies who set up ads through the network.

Therefore, we have decided to postpone the switching process for this website and to wait until the majority of ads will be SSL-compliant.

Conclusion

If you are thinking about making this change and use the HTTPS protocol on your website you should be aware that there are some ad networks that can not deliver ads anymore.

Do not repeat our mistake and just switch without asking the ad networks to confirm that they are working on secured websites.

Some of them will probably send you new ad tags, and others will not have the solution for delivering ads to secured pages. In order to minimize your losses you have two options: not to switch to HTTPS protocol or to find an ad network which will work equally good for you and deliver SSL-compliant ads before switching.

Ad networks that serve ads on HTTPS web pages: AdSense, ValueBrand, RTB, Chalk Social and Creafi (after the change of the ad tags).

Ad networks that do not serve ads on HTTPS web pages: SwitchAds and PixFuture.

Do you have some experience in this matter, which you want to share by leaving us a comment below? Do you know which ad networks deliver ads to the secure pages, and which do not?

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Comments

  1. Diamond3rd

    Nonsense! Useless!
    Who said to go over https if you have ads on such pages? Are you shopping site? If content based site, look at reputable sites like bloomberg, cnn, cnet, pcmag and etc.. They are all running ads and they are all none-https on content pages. They go over https only at login process and in store when you purchase. Otherwise, there is absolutely NO need to go over https and you are making a huge startup mistake. If you read things like it’s going to boost your page rank and you’ll be 1st in google search, it’s all a huge stupid rumor from bloggers and does not apply to content sites! Make money and secure pages that are actually need to be secured!

    PS: Hope it make sense to all!

    1. Thomas Maier

      Hi Diamond3rd, thanks for your opinion on using HTTPS at all. I agree with you, but we have our reasons. This post is not intended to actually tell people to move to https, but to help those who decided to do it for whatever reason and still have ads on them.
      Thanks
      Thomas

      1. Diamond3rd

        Yes, I understand that part but going over https on public content pages with ads is the same as if you would go to grocery store where they would have high-level security same as in the bank. It’s absolutely useless to go over https for content website even from search rank perspective. Google is not going to highly rank your website for having https for content pages but they probably will lower the score if your purchase/login page does not have https connection because you do go to the bank when you purchase or login since there is sensitive information passing thru urls.

    2. Video Adept

      Blogger is Now Allowing https for their .blogspot websites. But custom domains hosted at Blogger is not eligible for https. When https available for custom domains in blogger I will try to switch. I think https is better.

  2. sudhir mishra

    Hello Thomas, Please Help Me !!! Currently My blog is hosted by “Blogger” and I’m using custom domain. Please tell me how to enable HTTPS on it..? by default blogger does not provide the facility to use https in custom domains..

  3. MX Player

    As you can see my site is running on HTTPS , i have started to think that https don’t shows all the adsense ads. Is there any limitations for Https Adsense Sites?

    1. Selena Smiljanic Article Author

      Hi,
      yes, there is a limitation if you use the older versions of the AdSense ad codes. They do not work on HTTPS sites. You need to replace them with the updated AdSense ad codes that support ad serving through SSL.
      Selena

  4. David Favor

    Best way to handle this is via .htaccess stanzas to…

    1) Force all admin pages to run HTTPS.

    2) Force any other pages, like protected content + membership functions to run HTTPS.

    3) Force any other pages to use HTTP.

    Using the FORCE_SSL_ADMIN in wp-config.php is insufficient + causes many oddball problems which are difficult to debug.

    Also SSL requires being setup specifically to handle mixed (HTTPS/HTTP) content + serve pages fast.

    Be sure to use Apache-2.4.20+ + ensure OSCP stapling related handling is configured correctly via using SSL Labs tester.

    Also, be sure HSTS (Strict Transport Security) is disabled or you’ll end up with a site you can where you can login as admin + content will loop forever or produce varying errors, depending on your specific Apache config.

      1. David Favor

        You’re welcome.

        Running HTTPS for sites using Ad Network monetization kills earnings… and…

        Running HTTP (non-HTTPS) for admin functions makes sites hackable… so…

        Best use each protocol for its specific piece of the puzzle.

  5. Karan

    hey thanks for sharing your opinion on https , i have question for you here.I am running adsense ads on my blog which is being hosted on wordpress.i am looking forward to turn that into https but after reading your article i got confuse whether to move ahead since very few adsense ads worked on https. if you have any info here please share with me.

    Thanks in advance…

  6. PNR Status

    Recently, i have added SSL to my website and redirected http to https. And as for now ads are showing on my site. I have to keep in mind that some advertiser doesn’t offer ads on https. Thanks for sharing this useful info.

  7. Milly Delevingne

    Both the ad-server and the website these ads are being served on are running HTTPS. However once the first script is invoked it seems to be pulling the remaining files via non-SSL. I get these type of errors when I inspect element:

    1. Thomas Maier

      We know indeed cases where the site is HTTPS and the ad network code is working with HTTPS as well, but they had campaigns that are not compliant. There is nothing you can do except letting the ad network know about this. This is also one reason why many networks didn’t switch to HTTPS yet or not completely, because many campaigns could not be served.