Google AdSense Link Units Going Away

Dec 11, 2020 - 7:05 am 9 by
Filed Under Google AdSense

Google Adsense Link Units

Google announced that the link unit ad type is being retired. I think the link unit were first introduced in 2007, AdSense itself was launched in 2003. Link ads display a list of topics that are relevant to the content of your page. They are being retired on March 10, 2021.

Link units are an Adsense unit that display a list of topics that are relevant to the content of your page. Link ads are closely targeted to the interests of your users. Because users directly interact with the topics, they may be more interested in the ads they eventually see. AdSense publishers are paid for clicks on the ads that are linked from topics, not for clicks on the initial topics themselves. The ads on the linked page are pay-per-click Google ads similar to those shown in standard display ad units.

Google said "we've decided to retire link ads. This is to modernize our available ad formats, based on the feedback from users, publishers and advertisers. Going forward, we’ll be focussing on improving and developing other ad formats to help you grow."

Here is what they can look like (this is live code so we can check what happens after March 10, 2021):

If that does not work, here is a screen shot:

click for full size

After March 20, 2021 Google said:

  • You'll no longer be able to create link ad units.
  • Responsive link ads will begin to serve display ad units on your site(s).
  • Your link ad units will be converted to display ad units. They'll be renamed with "[previously link ad unit]" added to the end of the ad unit name. This will apply to both responsive and fixed-size link ad units.
  • Fixed-size link ads will stop serving on your site(s).
  • Google will collapse each ad unit where possible. In other cases Google will show a blank ad.

If you're using responsive link ads, you don’t need to take any action at this time. Our experiments show that, on average, responsive display ads can perform as well as link ads.

The community reaction is not all positive, one person from WebmasterWorld said "90% of my revenue comes from link units. I have no idea why Google wants to remove them since they clearly work. If the replacement ad units are not close in revenue generation, this will be devastating (and Google will lose a substantial amount of money as well)." Another publisher said "On my website ad units represent about 30% total revenue. Dont understand. Google still wants Auto ads, but auto ads is very bad." Another publisher wrote "Responsive Link ads have been my best performing ads. They represent 63% of my adsense income over the past year. They have been outperforming Responsive Image ads. They bring in more income than Responsive Image ads on High end mobile devices. The link ads show way more relevant ads than image ads, and that's probably why they are working. Auto ads completely ruins the user experience with these giant ads that take up all the above the fold space. I'll be looking for alternatives to Google Ad-non-sense. One idea is to just sell the ad space direct to advertisers which will improve site load speed and user experience at the same time."

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and Twitter.


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