What AdSense Responsive Ads Can Mean for You

Earlier this year, Google Adsense unveiled responsive ads in beta format. While there was no huge announcement coming from Google on this (likely, they wanted to test the waters), many of us on the publisher side have been testing them for several months now. I have failed to find much information on the subject, so here’s some basic info for both marketers & publishers on how to take advantage of these new Adsense responsive ads.

For those unfamiliar with Adsense responsive ads, I have an example that appears on this very site, screen-shotted from my own iPhone 5. In the example to the left, you’ll see the middle ad unit on this site in vertical alignment. Next, you can see how the ad changes when I tilt the phone into Landscape mode. Different advertisers altogether are featured– and, remember, I did not refresh the browser; simply turned it on its side. That, my friends, is how Adsense responsive ads work.

AdSense Responsive Ad- Vertical
AdSense Responsive Ad- Landscape


For Publishers

Obviously, on the publisher side, there’s a major advantage to utilizing responsive ad units if your site is already designed to adjust to mobile & tablet browsers. For those of us who have been using standard ad sizes up to this point, you know that often times, especially in the case of Leaderboards (728×90), ad units would go off of a mobile screen, creating a poor look & more importantly, not a great user experience.

The alternatives, of course, were limited to either a) re-writing some of the AdSense Javascript code -or- b) simply not utilizing ad sizes that wouldn’t render properly on mobile browsers. With WordPress (and some other CMS-based systems), at least there was the ability to easily create a “mobile-optimized” site, thereby only including ad sizes that would, again, look good on a mobile browser. I don’t know about you, but I never personally liked that option much– which is why this new version of Chicago’D is fully responsive, to give the same user experience on all screens.

For Marketers

I would assume (though, have no proof), that most of us utilizing the Google Display Network for our advertisers are doing so under the CPC model, in which we’re only paying for clicks. If that’s the case, then AdSense responsive ads don’t necessarily add anything to costs, unless of course someone clicks on our ads.

However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that now is a great time to be thinking about alternative ad sizes & special messaging and optimized landing pages for mobile users. The market is only going to get larger, and as more & more publishers place these ad units on their sites, it is a good time to take advantage of the typically lower cost inventory.

Even if you are buying GDN inventory on a CPM basis, I can’t imagine that responsive ad units would unnecessarily increase your costs, or have much of an effect on conversion rate–yet. However, as these become utilized more & more, I would consider creating ads specifically for mobile audiences, if you are targeting them, or opting out all-together if your product/message isn’t intended for the mobile crowd.

Finally, it’s is becoming increasingly important to remember that if you’re targeting mobile audiences in your advertising, your landing page should be fit for mobile use, too. So many times this is a forgotten step, and it often leads to low conversion rates, frustration by both you & your advertiser, and most importantly, a significant opportunity missed.