Are Google AdSense Matched Content Units Worth Using? My Findings After 2 Weeks

Adsense Matched Content Review Summary
  • Effectiveness (More Page Views)
  • Ease-of-Use
  • Design
  • Revenue Generation (Can place Adsense Unit above OR below)
4
User Rating: 1.6 (79 votes)
Sending

Google Matched Content Units

15 days ago I logged into my Adsense account and discovered a new unit called “Matched Content”.

Since it’s a new Adsense offering, I decided to give it a try.

Before adding it to one of my niche sites, I carefully read all the information Google published about Matched Content Units.

I strongly urge you to read Google’s info about Matched Content units before deploying them.  It’s always best to know what you can and can’t do.

Update November 21/16: Better Appearance

Recently Google updated the appearance of these units.  I think they look WAAAAAAAAY better.  Here’s an example:

example-google-matched-content-unit-november-2016

They’re not available for every site (currently)

The Matched Content units are not currently available for every website.  Google only approved it for one of my sites.

I suspect not every Adsense account holder has the option for Matched Content units.

I have no idea if they’ll be made available for every website down the road.  I believe at the time this post was published, it’s a beta offering.

If you have an eligible site, you’ll see the following announcement in your Adsense account:

Matched Content Beta Announcement

What are Matched Content Units?

They’re Google’s first “related content” style widgets.  Essentially they display a horizontal or vertical list of thumbnails and links to other content on your site.

The above image shows a horizontal example.

They’re unique in a number of ways:

  1. Scroll instead of creating a grid.  Visitors can scroll the unit which presents more related content links.
  2. They do generate some ad revenue:  While the lion’s share of clicks generated with these units are clicks to other pages on my site, my Adsense reports do show that somehow these units have generated revenue.

How do you create these units?

It’s really simple.

In your Adsense account, click “My Ads” and then “+ New ad unit”.

Here’s a screenshot of what to do next:

How to create a Google Matched Content unit

A couple of things to note:

  1.  I create a custom size so it’s sufficiently large to display multiple related post suggestions.
  2. The width of the unit will depend on the width of the area in which you will place these units.  For my approved site, 800 px wide works.

Do Matched content units themselves earn you money?

Yes they do, but not much.

I’m not sure how it works, but I believe on occasion ads are displayed within the unit.  I’m only guessing this, but I’ve noticed revenue from my Matched content units.

But, the revenue is not the reason I’m using these units.

I use Matched content units because they generate more page views fairly effectively.  Over the course of 1 week, I generated an additional 3,813 clicks which is 3,813 additional page views.

I also use them because they offer a great opportunity for ad unit placement, which is placing a regular ad unit either above or below the Matched content units.

The best way to use Matched content units is as follows:

Google suggests to place an ad unit either above or below Matched content units.  You can read this suggestion by Google here.

The important wording here is “either…or”.  What I take this to mean, and I’m sure this is intentional, is that you cannot place Google ad units both above and below.  That’s my reading of the rules.  I could be wrong, but I’ll err on the side of caution.

I suggest if you use Matched content units to test ad units either above or below.  For me they’re performing reasonably well.

Another suggestion is to test a link unit above or below.  I’m doing this too and the results aren’t bad.

The point is twofold:

1. Read the Matched content policies carefully; and

2. Test various sizes, orientations (horizontal vs. vertical), devices, placements and surrounding ads.

Do Matched content units count toward your Google content ad limit per page?

No.  They’re in addition to what’s allowed. Google sets this out here.

In other words, you can still publish 3 ad units, 3 link units and 2 search boxed per web page.  Matched content units are in addition to these permitted allotments.

How many Matched content units are allowed per web page?

I read every piece of information I could about these units that Google published and did not find any restrictions.

However, that doesn’t mean tomorrow this could change.  Please, read the policies yourself.

I currently have 2 units per web page – one just below the fold and one at the bottom of the content.

Can they be used on any device?

Yes, they can.

Because it’s a scrolling related content widget, it’s not bad on mobile devices.  People can scroll the box and find related content.

They’re particularly good on tablets and desktop for me though.

A few things to note after 10 days or so:

  1.  They can generate some revenue on their own.
  2. I find placing them in content is more effective than a 300×600 sidebar unit.
  3. I find they’re more effective on desktops and tablets than smart phones.
  4. They offer a terrific opportunity to place a regular Adsense unit either above or below the Matched content unit.  I also suggest trying a link unit above or below (but don’t place a link unit above and an ad unit below or vice versa… my reading of the rules is that it’s one Google ad unit EITHER above OR below.
  5. They’re effective at generating more page views per visitor (but then most related content widgets attract clicks).
  6. Test everything: placement, surrounding ad, link color, devices, etc.

Should you use them?

If you have an eligible site, yes, give them a shot.

They work well for me so I keep them on my site.

Adsense Matched Content Review Summary
  • Effectiveness (More Page Views)
  • Ease-of-Use
  • Design
  • Revenue Generation (Can place Adsense Unit above OR below)
4
User Rating: 1.6 (79 votes)
Sending

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26 Comments

  1. Krishna says

    How do they compare to related post plugins?

    Does it has any advantages?

    1. Jon says

      It’s the same in function. Google’s Matched content widget scrolls.

      Also, the Google Matched content units do generate some revenue… not much but some and it’s a unit that can be used in addition to ad limits for other units.

  2. بحرية درويد says

    Hello
    thanks for the post. i have qustion i have 3 ads per page is this counted as 4 or how ???

    1. Jon says

      Hi,
      A Matched Content unit does not go toward Adsense ad unit limits. So, I have 3 Adsense ad units PLUS 2 Matched Units on my pages. On some pages I also have 2 link units (although these aren’t great performers).

  3. Prerna says

    Do I need to set up units differently for desktop and tablets or a single responsive unit would be compatible in every mode. I’m very careful regarding the AdSense policies because I’m a layman in all such things so don’t really understand sometimes if I’m breaking any of them and thanks a lot for this detailed information.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Prerna,

      If you use responsive you should be okay except for the top leaderboard. My understanding is responsive Adsense units can display 300×250 units on mobile, which is too big above-the-fold on mobile. Therefore, what I do is use WP Mobile Detect plugin to control which units get displayed where. I use only the Adsense mobile 320×100 or 320×50 for above the fold on mobile.

  4. harry @ rsg says

    I’m only at a $.59 RPM after a few days of testing – does not seem worth it at all. Thoughts?

    Especially compared to my in post ads that are at $3-$7 RPM

    1. Jon says

      Where are you putting them? While Matched Ads can be good, they are not going to pay nearly as well as well placed ad units. I like Matched ads for putting an ad unit above or below it.

  5. Rajesh says

    My website was approved for matched content and I have placed the responsive codes of Matched Content google ads by going to Appearance > Theme Options > Ad Management > in Below Post Content I have copied and pasted the code of matched content but its being one days and still the ads are not displaying on my website. I read from somewhere that we also need to install open graph tag so I have also installed one called Facebook Open Graph, Google+ and Twitter Card Tags but to no avail. What am I doing wrong, can you please help me out. In google adsense when I click on My ads, then all ads are displaying as Active but only the Matched Content Ads is displaying as New and not Active? Does it take time to get active or such? Thanks

    1. Jon says

      Hey Rajesh,

      Thatt’s a bit odd. They (Matched Ads) should display fairly quickly. I don’t have any suggestions for you unfortunately.

  6. scott says

    I tried using the responsive matched content unit, but it is not being “responsive” — but is totally widening the desktop version of my site by 300-500 pixels. This doesn’t happen with the responsive regular ads…. so there appears to be some bugs in this.

    1. Jon says

      That’s odd Scott. I don’t get that. If it doesn’t work itself out, I’d remove them. They’re good, but not so good to warrant a messed up display.

      Did you customize the size when creating them?

      Another option is ensure the width fits with your desktop site and only display them on desktop.

  7. Nilesh says

    Hi Jon,

    Can I fix the matched content unit in the sidebar (it will stick when the user scrolls) or will it be against the ToS as we cannot do that will the regular ad unit.
    *I’ll show it only to desktop/tablet viewers.

    1. Jon says

      Hi Nilesh,

      I wouldn’t put any Google ads as sticky units in the sidebar unless you get express permission to do so.

  8. Cagatay says

    Why don’t you use them on this page/website? so that we could see a live example. I see that you don’t even use “related articles”

    ps: dude better use disqus or facebook comments. This is so old school. Highly probable, I will forget about this comment 60 seconds later.

    Disqus allows me to track, keep notified or my earlier comments.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Cagatay,

      Yes I agree with you. I haven’t had a lot of time for this site in recent months but am getting back to it now. This site is in dire need of some updating for sure including related articles and better navigation. Thanks for telling me… perhaps it will get me to get the ball rolling.

  9. Mark says

    You wrote “Google suggests to place an ad unit either above or below Matched content units. You can read this suggestion by Google here.” I clicked through to the page you linked to and I do not see this recommendation.

  10. Si Retu says

    Hi, thabks you for the explanation. Clear enough.

    I have a question, let’s say my blog contains multiple niche such as home design, fashion tips and business idea, is there any possibilities for me to be offered a mayched content?

    Is the matched content only for a niche blog? How about entertain blog?

    Thanks before

    1. Jon says

      Hey Si,

      That’s a good question. I’m not sure what criteria Google looks at for offering Matched Content.

  11. Amit says

    Hi,
    I am using Adsense since last two years but my matched content ads is not enabled yet. is there any other procedure or workaround to make it enable or active?
    Actually I dont want to use adsense ads on my blog but I can use the matched content widgets to my blog to make it look more better.
    Suggest me if any.

    Thanks,
    Amit

  12. kavya says

    thanks for the post but i want to know how can i change the colour of matched content ad plz help me sir

  13. Jesse says

    Is there a way to buy traffic with Match Content, i been looking all over for the right information, would greatly appreciate your help!

    1. Jon says

      Hey Jess,

      I’d contact Adwords. Their support is great with live chat option and telephone option. Maybe there is a way to only display on Matched Content ads. I’m not sure though.

  14. Rahul Yadav says

    This is good move by Adsense, there will be more revenue from Adsense now…

  15. buying small business says

    Hey,
    Thanks so much for this post. I love that you included information about how to use Google Adsense. I think that it can be a great way to earn money on the side, but your post definitely brought some new information to light!
    Best,
    Dennis

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