On May 2, Google announced a change in its AdSense policy removing a limitation on placement of “above the fold” ads.
“Above the fold” in this context means the visible content on top of a web page that does not require visitors to scroll down the page. Google, in its relentless effort to improve user experience, rewards websites that put focus on main content above the fold with better visibility. Providing information to website visitors without asking them to perform actions like click links, scroll down and other steps provides ease of us. Otherwise, for websites that litter ads above the fold, their search visibility could suffer. And if they’re using AdSense ads, they might be notified of terms violation.
Now, such notification isn’t expected if the ads you place above the fold has these dimensions: 300×250 medium rectangle.
“After careful review, we’ve determined that when 300×250 ads are implemented above the fold in a user-friendly way, the ads do not annoy, distract, or result in ad performance issues,” John Brown, Head of Publisher Policy Communications at Google said in a blog post.
This ad size might be an unwelcome sight for smaller phones but looks just fine on smartphones with larger screen size — Samsung Galaxy S7, LG V10™, iPhone 7 Plus and others. But without mentioning screen size nor phone brands, Google said it realized such ads can be implemented above the fold “in a user-friendly way” that don’t “annoy, distract, or result in ad performance issues.”
This is good news to publishers who wish to boost their ad revenues; placing an ad slot in a prime location of a page generates high view rate, and could be handsomely paid for its prominent exposure. But this change might be for the worse for visitors, at least to those websites who make the quick switch regarding the 300×250 ad placement, experience may be more annoying, though I don’t expect it will encourage accidental clicks and click fraud.
I don’t think this move has surprised many, even though Google has been preaching about good user experience to webmasters — faster loading speeds, secured website experience, and user-friendly layouts. That’s because the bottom line is that Google is still an advertising company, and by loosening up on its restrictions on ad placement, more impressions and clicks are likely to follow. That means higher revenue and more money in the bank.