Google AdSense Experiment - Change of Ad Unit Placement and Disabling Personalized Ads to Recover From Ridiculously Low CTR (0,20%)

Updated: 4 December, 2016 seen 895

Soon it will be already three years since Google AdSense units have been featured to this website.

In my early days I experimented a lot with AdSense ad unit placements, change of text colors, blending in, blending out and so on. I was eager to increase CTR, CPC, RPM just so more dollars would roll into my bank account. One thing I lacked definitely back in these days and sleepless night - traffic. I started using AdSense for this blog in January 2014. At start I didn't paid much attention on ad unit optimization, it took me some three months before first tune ups. 

For the first 4 months CTR averaged between 0.10% to 0.4%. Then I realized - I must do something with ad placements, first experiments turned out to be successful and by the end of May 2014, I got to the sweet 0.69% CTR.and by September I reached all times best CTR  for this blog 0.88%, then I messed some things and next best result of 0.66% CTR followed just in February 2015

I already mentioned traffic, or more precisely lack of it. In my early days I didn't got much visitors, in total for 2014 I got just about 40,000 users, which equals to about 3,300 monthly visitors, not much room for fine tuning. So I thought - ahh, it is going to be fine, I just need more traffic. 

The good news - the traffic did came it flowed like a rapid river, so I ended year 2015 with about 340,000 users and will end 2016 with about 600,000 unique visitors. Hell, I crossed 1 million page views some time ago already. 

The bad news - CTR went down month after month, by now (November 2016) reaching ridiculously low 0.20% rate. I have three Google AdSense ad units, two are responsive ad units and one is a standard 300x250 ad unit. 

Yes I'm making way more with AdSense in 2016 than I made in 2015. I still keep reading that many webmasters are bragging of 1%, 2% or even 5% CTR. And just logically I'm thinking - I'm loosing a lot of free money. 

And this is the reason I opted for another Google AdSense ad unit placement change experiment.

My goal is not to reach 5%, 2% or even 1%. In truth, I feel pretty lame of my bad CTR, that anything above 0.30% would be just ideal. 

Change of Ad unit placement

For this simple experiment I'm replacing responsive ad unit with a 336x280px unit and blending it in more in content.

Google AdSense ad unit

Google AdSense ad unit

I feel a little bit worried, as I'm replacing my best performing ad unit with completely new and untested ad unit. Well, but that's why we are calling it an experiment right? I risking to loose a small but stable revenue I was getting from responsive ad unit above content.

Now, speaking of above the fold ads - none of the three ad units in my site doesn't qualify as fully above the fold. Depending on results of this experiment, I might to remove post picture (above the fold) by forcing content and ad in content being above the fold. 

Disabling Personalized Ads

I read an interesting article Increase Adsense CTR on Blogs by Deactivating Interest Based Ads and kind of felt, I should give it a try.

Let me explain, for most of the time I have been Google Publishers (using Google AdSense to monetize my site). Until recent working on a customers website I tried my shoes as a Google advertiser (Google AdWords). I quickly learnt that I don't want our ads to be displayed on third party sites, as they generated a lot of clicks and didn't cost much. As it might seem good - getting a lot of clicks for cheap, the truth is, no click converted to customer. I quickly edited our AdWords campaign and set ads to be displayed only on Google search.

That made me to realize that many ads displayed by Google AdSense are kind of from the secondary market. As the publishers we don't have much control what kind of ads are actually displayed on our sites, but there is one thing I decided to experiment with - to turn of personalized ads on AdSense:

Personalized ads - show ads based on users’ interests, demographics, and Google Account information, and allow Google to collect visitation information from my site to create interest categories.

To deactivate personalized ads, go to Allow & Block ads, under Ad serving deactivate personalized ads:

Deactivate personalized ads

Deactivate personalized ads

Again, I have no clue will it actually help me to boost CTR, but hey, it is an experiment after all.

The Bottom Line

Never stop experimenting and improving small things. Speaking of Google AdSense impact on revenue on this blog, by now it makes a tiny portion of about 5% of total income, in case I will manage to increase CTR just by half to humble 0.40%, it might end as 10% from total. CTR 1%? That's about 5 time increase in revenue (OK, OK, you should take CPC rates into account also).

Speaking of how long should I run these experiments - as I have pretty traficated website, I believe 10 days will be fine enough to observe first results.

How about you? Does changing ad unit placement or deactivating personalized ads have helped you to achieve greater CTR rates? Leave a comment, readers and me would love to hear.


Hi! My name is Reinis Fischer (38), a proud dad and devoted husband. CEO and Founder of Terramatris crypto hedge fund, drone enthusiast, world traveler, photographer, and passionate lover of Georgian cuisine (vegetarian).

An ex-pat living in Georgia since 2011, I trade stocks, take photographs, work out at the gym, and many more. Here I write about travel, finance, and other things that might interest me.