After I replaced Responsive ad units with fixed size ads, my RPM / Earnings went up more that 85.6%! I did this by identifying the device (Desktop or Mobile) and serving appropriate ad sizes, which provide maximum CPM (RPM).
This feature is now a cornerstone of my AdSense Ninja WP plugin (along with Easy Ad Placement, AB testing, ads in comments).
There are 3 main issues that make Responsive AdSense ad units not perform as well as fixed size ads, which lowers you RPM and earnings. Below I will explain what these issues are and how I resolve them.
Google has created responsive units for people who cannot properly insert adequate sizes in Mobile versions of their websites, as well as desktop versions, with content width of LESS then 728px.
The basic benefit of using Responsive ads, is that if your site uses one template for both Desktop and Mobile visitors, the same add will show “proper” ad size based on user’s screen resolution. Since most people do not know how to display mobile units for mobile visitors and desktop units for desktop/tablet visitors, responsive units are supposed to solve the problem.
However my tests show that by manually inserting FIXED ad size units, you can increase your RPM / earnings by more than 80% in the same placement! Proof below.
Let’s look at the downside of using Responsive units:
Difficulty to track conversions, based on ad size
Because on each page load a different ad size is shown, it is difficult (let’s say impossible) to track which size actually performs better for you, and converts visitors in ad clicks.
For example, if your content area is over 728px wide, you can see the following ad sizes shown at random:
- 468×60 (worst offender)
Additionally other ODD sizes can show up, but usually you will see one of the 4 above. However, 468×60 ad unit will often show, and it is BY FAR the worst performing ad size of all that I’ve tested in the last 8 years, rivaled only by Text Link units, that perform even worse (but that is expected).
If you run a Responsive ad on a mobile version, you will often see the standard 320×100 ad unit, which in my testing also performs really poorly.
Can’t do A/B testing
Going back to showing different ad sizes – you can’t A/B test a responsive unit properly. What I mean is this:
If you want to test 728×90 vs 336×280, you cannot do this, because diffident sizes will load for different people, and you cannot see which size performed well for a particular Responsive ad. You also cannot limit which sizes show up.
You also cannot do A/B testing of color pallets, and all units show the colors that you choose in ad unit settings.
Lower RPM and Ad Earnings
So at the end of the day, this is the most important metric for an AdSense publisher – the more money you earn, the better. As you will see below, after replacing Responsive ads with fixed ad sizes, my RPM / Earnings went up more that 85.6%, in the same ad spots, with relatively stable traffic, and no changes to content / site design!
First, lets review traffic stats for this website:
So that we remain objective and accurate, let’s make adjustments for traffic changes.
Traffic Before Purchase: From April 15 through May 26, there were 62271 Sessions and 53017 Users (unique visitors). I use dates form 04/15/2016 through 05/26/2016, because that is what I have for Proof of previous owner’s AdSense earnings. This gives us 42 full days of Analytics and AdSense earings stats.
Based on the numbers above, we get an average of 1483 sessions and 1262 users per day, before I purchased the site.
Traffic After Purchase: Note, I bought this site on June 2, 2016, so my earnings and stats begin from that date.
Now from June 2nd through Jun 19th (last day is incomplete, as I’m writing this on Jun 20th, and it is 1pm EST now), which is 18 complete days, there were 25927 Sessions and 22453 Users.
This equals to an average of 1440 sessions and 1247 users per day, after I purchased the site.
So for the purposes of being accurate, visitors/day has actually dropped by a fraction of 1%, which is negligible, and I will not make any adjustments to calculation of increase in Earnings.
How much did earnings increase?
Lets take a look at BEFORE and AFTER AdSense stats. Note – I obscured all data that AdSense TOS prohibits me from showing – this includes clicks, CPC, RPM, Page Views, etc. I only show EARNINGS.
AdSense Screenshot – Before I bought the site: As you can see from image below, in 42 days the site has earned $474 or $11.28 / day.
AdSense Screenshot – After I bought the site: In 18 days the site has earned $377 or $20.94 / day!
Responsive ad units VS fixed size ad units – real life performance testing:
So let’s compare. Before I bought the site, it had responsive ads everywhere, but only one unit got over 94% of clicks. I’ve replaced that responsive units with Fixed size units, after acquiring the site, and left placements unchanged.
In preceding 42 days, site averaged $11.28 per day. After replacing the ads, revenue went up to $20.94 per day, while traffic stayed virtually the same! This gives us 85.6% increase in earnings, and the only thing I’ve done was replace ad units! Just imagine how much more I can squeeze out, by optimizing and A/B testing 😀
So what FIXED SIZE ad units did I use?
For the desktop site version I used a 600×280 custom size rectangle unit at the top (most clicked ad – over 90% of clicks), which displayed mostly 336×280 image ads and 600px wide text ads.
For the mobile version I used 300×250 ad size.
Note – the site is based on WordPress and uses a free directory theme (not exact name). I actually do not like the theme at all, and will be replacing it, as well as doing an A/B test between the old theme and my new custom AdSense Optimized WP theme. I will report my findings after running the test for at least 1 month.
The current theme is Responsive, and ad placements are identical – 2 ads are placed in Widgets area, and one is custom inserted in the top of content area.
I use custom PHP code to detect MOBILE visitor, and based on USER-AGENT, show Desktop (600×280) or Mobile (300×250) ad units.
I do not use any plugins for inserting ads or detecting mobile visitors – all of this is done through WP Theme Editor, using my custom PHP codes.
Once I publish my AdSense Success Udemy course, students will get free access to my Custom WP AdSense Theme as well as PHP codes that I use. I also plan to release my AdSense Optimized WP theme as a separate product, and it will contain all the necessary PHP code for Mobile/Desktop ad switching, AB testing, and optimizations.