Google used to limit the number of ads publishers can put on a page, but not anymore.

Recently, there’s been a lot of rumours about Google’s policy change on the number of ads a publisher can put on a page.

Google Adsense Ad Limit Removal

A lot of people wondered — there’s no change in the official placement policies page, but why am I able to put more than three banners on my website? Did they upgrade me to Premium Adsense Publisher status?

From WayBack Machine

Ad limit per page (Old Policy)
Currently, on each page AdSense publishers may place:

  • Up to three AdSense for content units
  • Up to three link units
  • Up to two search boxes

Publishers may not place more than one “large” ad unit per page. We define a “large” ad unit as any unit similar in size to our 300×600 format. For example, this would include our 300×1050 and 970×250 formats, our 750×200 and 580×400 regional formats, and any other custom-sized ad with comparable dimensions.

Months passed, more and more publishers started using four to five banner ads on a page. Google was known to be very strict about enforcing its policies in the past so it got me thinking — why are they getting away with it?

Turns out, it’s now allowed. Google has updated its ad placement policy page and totally removed the old three Adsense for content unit limit.

Google has replaced it with a new section called ‘valuable inventory’, where they listed some examples of unacceptable pages for the Adsense program.

  • Mirroring, framing, scraping or rewriting of content from other sources without adding value;
  • Pages with more advertising than publisher-provided content;
  • Automatically generated content without manual review or curation;
  • Hosted ad pages or pages without content;
  • Pages that don’t follow our Webmaster Quality Guidelines.

Google also warned that paid advertising materials should not exceed the content, saying that it will disable or limit ad serving to those who use excessive banners and/or add little to no value to their users until appropriate changes are made.

Nobody knows how strict Google will be in implementing this policy, but I advise everyone to take their warning seriously.

Why Did Google Remove It?

Matt Southern of Search Engine Journal spoke with a Google representative to talk about the change.

Google looks at it as a way of further improving web content. Instead of rejoicing on the removal of the limit, publishers should focus more on producing quality content to match the number of advertising they have on a page.

Another reason is to encourage publishers to test out the new Adsense units for mobile. Most publishers have been very hesitant in trying it out in fear of giving up an existing ad banner space, which could possibly make them lose some revenue.

Not a lot of publishers use mobile ads and the adoption has been quite slow despite being released for a while now. If no one’s showing it, advertisers aren’t getting the fullest potential of mobile ads. So in a way, this is also one of Google’s step to please the Adsense advertisers.

While Google is strict about only showing three banners before, some publishers are already ahead of creating ways to show more than what they should in a single blog post. They do this by breaking down the content into several pages. Although long articles are arguably harder to read than short pieces, there are publishers that even short articles and image galleries are being turned into multi-page posts — all for the purpose of getting more page views and feeding ads right in the face of the reader.

This move doesn’t address that, but it will certainly appeal to those publishers who use the same kind of method. So in a way Google Adsense ad limit policy removal makes sense. Now, they no longer need to mess up the user experience and make users click a hundred more times than they should just to show more advertisements.

Why Is It Good For Publishers?

More. Ads.

It’s really simple. With the change, publishers can now put as much banner ads as they want, provided that they comply with Adsense’s content policy.

But that’s not without a catch. Placing more Adsense ads in a page will drastically lower the bid on a specific ad because there’s now more spaces to choose from and less advertiser competition.

When the three banner units policy was still enforced, publishers get the best cost-per-click (CPC) they can get because advertisers compete in bidding to only three units. Adding more banners will likely decrease the CPC, but it will improve the visibility to the users which can possibly improve the clickthrough rate (CTR).

Why Is It Bad News For Readers?

It’s basically the same — more ads.

Most publishers will probably overdo it — based on what I’ve observed in the last couple of months. I’ve seen some small publishers put up as much as six Adsense ads on a page, even if they have very little useful content.

But we don’t have to worry about it. Google will likely punish those who will abuse the system, and it will eventually filter out those who are not producing quality content.

Google-pop-ups-update
In fact, a couple of days ago Google announced on its webmasters blog that it will be penalizing those who use intrusive pop-ups which cover the main content when a user clicks on a page. This has been happening for a while now and a lot of major publishers are doing it. There’s no doubt that it ruins the user experience, as they are forced into an ad before even displaying the content.

My Thoughts on the Google Adsense Ad Limit Removal

I’m also an Adsense publisher but I’m really not in favor of the change.

Yes, additional banners may open up more opportunities for people to earn more on their websites. But the reality is it only will lead to a poorer user experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the idea of publishers making more out of their content — but that’s where this is probably heading to.

I’m not gonna lie, my blog is filled with advertisements, too. But I’m not planning on adding more Adsense units than what I currently have now. I used to have one to two more ad units from other Ad networks before, but I figured that it cluttered my website too much so I took it away.

It shouldn’t be always about the money. Now that the maximum number of Adsense ads limit has been removed, it’ll be more tempting for publishers to place more banner content units on their websites. User experience is extremely important in any product, service or website, so publishers should set this as one of the top priorities.

Publishers should continuously strive to get a perfect balance between the number of ads and the quality of content on a page. We should always remember that if not for our visitors, we have no one to show our ads but ourselves — and we’re not gonna earn from that.