Google today announced a new tool for AdSense, Auto Ads, which will give publishers the option to delegate decisions about where and when ads are shown on their pages to AdSense itself. The service uses machine learning to make decisions about ad placement and monetisation, which Google is pitching as a way for publishers to save themselves time and effort while also potentially increasing ad revenue.
The service underwent limited beta testing last year, but is now available for all AdSense users. Google says Auto Ads can be activated by placing a piece of code on each page they want to use it for, meaning that publishers won’t have to use it across their entire website if they don’t want to. Auto Ads will then analyse the page structure and the placement of any existing Google ads, and then place new ads based on elements such as the page layout and the amount of content on the page.
The algorithm will measure over time how these ads perform, meaning it will learn over time which ad types and formats perform best, helping it in theory to make better placement decisions in the future.
Auto Ads will be able to place text and display ads, in-feed ads, in-article ads, and matched content (which combines ads with content from the site itself. AdSense’s overlay formats for mobile will also be available: Anchor ads, which stick to the edge of the screen while a user scrolls through a page, and Vignette ads, interstitial ads which pop up between page loads.
Users will be able to select which of these formats they want to enable on a global basis for their whole site, though there will also be an option for enabling different formats on different pages.
While AdSense seems to be selling Auto Ads mainly as a way for publishers to save time and effort making ad placement decisions themselves (encouraging customers in the blog post announcement to let Google “take care of the rest”), Google says the tool could also increase revenue.
Partly this will happen in cases where Auto Ads chooses to put more ads into content than the publishers themselves have previously, but Google also said that where two ad formats compete for the same space (i.e in a space between articles), the highest paying ad will show. Whereas previously AdSense could only choose the highest paying ad for a set format, it will now be able to choose between different formats too.
Publishers already using AdSense who want to keep ads in particular spots can manually place them, with Auto Ads taking these placements into consideration for its decisioning. However the tool won’t be able to detect ads from other ad networks, which could potentially be problematic. Google says the the algorithm will optimise placements while maintaining the user experience, but this could be hard to do on pages where lots of ads are already running from other networks.