This website has run display ads for close to 14 years. While there’s been a bit of experimentation, for the vast majority of that time, those ads have been powered by Google Adsense.
Adsense offers an easy setup for content publishers to integrate ads to their site and then the game becomes how many eyeballs can you attract to your content.
Having grown the audience of techAU to 1,418,447 views in 2020, ad revenue not only pays for the cost of running the site, but also brings in not an insignificant amount of money.
All that changed in late December.
I checked the mobile website and seen that my Adsense revenue had basically dropped to zero. The couple of days prior I had some of the best traffic to the site I’ve ever seen, after a couple of successful posts.
Over the history of the site, its not uncommon to see large spikes in traffic when posts get shared to new communities online, or linked from higher profile sites. There has been occasions where the site sees a months worth of traffic in a single day and this was an example of this. Given this spike in traffic was fairly sustained for 24-48hrs, I was expecting the revenue to reflect this, but the opposite happened.
Upon investigating the issue, I was met with a banner at the top of Adsense that reads:
‘The number of ads you can show has been limited. For details, go to the Policy center.’
At the end of the red alert banner, was a link to the Policy Center, so naturally I followed the link to find out more. The Policy Center revealed that ‘Ad serving has been limited’ and under the Issues column, it listed ‘Invalid traffic concerns’.
Naturally I start investigating what that meant and why Google thought some of the traffic to my site was invalid.
Clicking the down arrow on the page, I see the following detail.
The number of ads you can show has been limited.
Ad serving on your account is currently being limited due to invalid traffic concerns. We’ll automatically review and update this limit as we continue to monitor your traffic. Learn more about ad serving limits.
What you can do
Make sure you understand your ad traffic and site visitors. Never click on your own ads, and avoid partnering with untrusted or low-quality parties. Learn more about preventing invalid traffic. While this ad serving limit typically impacts publishers for less than 30 days, it may take longer in some cases.
I read through (a number of times) and was immediately left with more questions than answers. I don’t do the things listed here, so was very confused. I assume that Google seen the spike in traffic to the site and that triggered an alert, which looked like suspicious behaviour.
The troubling part is the statement around the 30 days (maybe longer) timeframe for someone at Google to review this, meanwhile I’m missing out on revenue.
In searched Google, YouTube, Twitter, anywhere I could to find more information about others that had surely experienced the same issue and hoped for a solution.
What I could do to remedy the situation? Not a lot, basically nothing. Google is essentially a web form, there’s no number you can call, not even an email you can write to.
I eventually stumbled across a few forums posts and YouTube videos where content creators had left the platform in favour of another monitisation platform known as Ezoic.
After researching the service, I became more comfortable with the idea that switching platforms would offer me the best chance at once again bringing in income, without waiting 30+ days for Google.
The Ezoic setup was fairly easy to sign up for, but there was a fair bit of learning and trial and error over the next few days to ensure the configuration was correct. Ezoic actually allocate a support person to you which made the questions that I had, really easy to get answer for.
Ironically Ezoic actually requires you to connect your Google Adsense account. From there Ezoic offers publishers the rare opportunity to get into the Doubleclick Ad Exchange.
Once my site was configured to use Ezoic, I started seeing the page views come through the analytics area of the platform, which was then followed by ad revenue. It was slow at first, but at this stage I was glad to see any money after Adsense basically dried up overnight.
In the past fortnight, I had another couple of outsized successes and that has generated $336.41 in the last 10 days.
Of course display ad revenue is not my only income, but I’m incredibly happy with the results so far with Ezoic. There is likely many more tweaks I can make over the coming weeks and month to further optimise, while not annoying users too much, but I am grateful to have found a new home at Ezoic.
Like all great services, Ezoic offer a referral program, so if you check them out, please use this link to sign up.