AdSense RPM Plummets After Google Removes Text Ad Arrows (on Some Sites)

money going up in smoke

Is ad arbitrage toast?

It may be for some publishers.

At the beginning of April 2016 AdSense yanked the beloved Nessie arrows from desktop text ads on many websites.

A few days ago a colleague and friend told me his Google desktop text ads no longer displayed the arrow (referred to as the Nessie arrow).

As of this morning, I’ve noticed the same on one of my sites.

The result:  much lower RPM on desktop.  Those arrows help get more clicks.  They don’t look pretty; they earn money and drive traffic to advertisers.

However, the Nessie arrows are prone to accidental clicks.  It appears Google started addressing that at the beginning of April 1, 2016.

Frankly I’ve always been amazed the Nessie arrows are in ads at all.  Regardless where the ads are placed in content, whether near navigation, pagination buttons, images or text, they look like a “Next page” button.  They just do.

That said, I can totally see how some placements on some sites end up with more accidental clicks than other placements.

I guess my placement, which I didn’t think was too aggressive, resulted in too many accidental clicks.  That’s okay because I have a game plan. Keep reading.

My Solution to Nessie Arrow Penalty

This is an update that’s worked for 3 months starting March 2017.  Fill in the box directly below to read how I’ve overcome the revenue-hurting Nessie Arrow penalty.

Thanks for requesting this bonus content. My solution is very simple.  I replaced my above-the-fold in-content AdSense ad units with AdSense link units.

You see, not too long ago AdSense redesigned the Link ad unit so that the buttons are bigger and look like menu buttons.  It’s still a two-click system meaning you get paid only when visitors click an ad on the second page.  However, this is great because the two-click unit insulates you against accidental clicks.  Moreover, AdSense also dramatically improved the second landing page so that the CTR is actually really good.

FYI, these link ads are my highest earners (by far).

I suggest testing different colors and borders.  I find a solid background with white text works well for me.

In fact, these link units performed so well on mobile I had to move them below the fold because although it’s a two-click system, the CTR was so high, I didn’t want to incur some other problem.

That’s my simple solution in the event you lost the nessie arrows.  Give it shot.

It’s not just me…

The best bit of information about the loss of Nessie arrows (in April 2016) on desktop text ads on some sites can be read in this thread at Google Product Forums.

Specifically, it’s the post by db8316 in which he set outs the following:

Just had a great chat with AdSense Support Team.

Here is a summary.

Q: The arrows on the Desktop Text Ads has disappeared, which I have never seen happen before
A: Last week our product team changed the way arrow buttons work. They will no longer show on some desktop sites where the implementation is prone to accidental clicks. So when you do see text ads, they will be currently missing the arrow button, as you noted.

Q: What is the main cause in my site design?
A: Placing Ads close a navigation element (in my case AdSense team thought it was close to the NEXT PAGE button)

Q: Is this done per ad-unit?
A: Apparently the change is made across the URL and can’t be isolated to specific ad units.

Q: what is considered high invalid activity? is 1% too high?
A: Unfortunately we don’t have specifics about how the Invalid Traffic team determines this.

Q: What are my options, is this a permanent change across my entire website?
A: The best thing you can do is change your implementation. We’ve been told that the system will continue to review pages and then if the implementation is better, the arrows will return!

Q: How soon after I make the change to the layout, will the arrow button return?
A: Not sure, will email more details over email.

Source: Google Product Forums (AdSense)

Webmasterworld forum members on the April 2016 AdSense Earnings and Observations thread have reported the same (see jbayabas’ message #4799059 here).

Roman Abramovich on Webmasterworld in Msg#:4799080 reports he’s still getting arrows, but color changes are not showing on Chrome.

A few other comments to note from the same thread discuss observations that some big sites are dropping AdSense (Msg#4799093) and running other ad networks. Media.net is getting a lot of mentions too (for good reason).

Interestingly a few posters suggest the arrows are bad because they’re ugly.  That may be the case but they earn and that’s the point, which is driven home the last few days as many publishers are watching AdSense revenue plummet without arrows on desktop ads.

The list goes on as to the AdSense chatter given these developments.  I strongly recommend you check out the April 2016 AdSense Earnings and Observations thread.  Usually these threads are pretty boring, but there’s some good stuff there given these significant AdSense developments.

This fairly significant change is after AdSense changed the mobile ad design which I noticed also caused a drop in RPM.

If you’ve lost your Nessie arrows, what can/should you do?

Fortunately, we have the benefit of the chat transcript from the Google Product Forum above which suggests that you should change ad implementation to reduce accidental clicks and by the sounds of it the arrows will return in due course.

That’s pretty simple.

I’ll be doing that for sure.  Below I set out my step-by-step plan to deal with this.

Please keep in mind that I haven’t verified that transcript above.  I’m taking it at face value that it is indeed a transcript of a chat between publisher and AdSense rep.  However, it reads fairly legitimately and makes sense to me.

Won’t ad RPM decrease without high paying AdSense ads in the premium spots?

Yes, but AdSense isn’t the only game in town anymore, which is fantastic.  Yes, you must do some testing of different ads and networks, but there are other ad networks that can generate some great revenue.  Moreover, those networks are more forgiving than AdSense with respect to placement.

What I’m going to do

1. Swap out the high CTR AdSense units

On desktop, I’m going to replace my highest CTR Google ad unit (below post title) with either a Media.net (read review) unit or a TBN unit (read my The Blogger Network review).  I’ll probably test both and see which pays the best.  I think you should also try RevContent.  RC isn’t good on my niche sites, but I’ve seen some amazing revenue numbers from colleagues so it’s an ad network that can earn really well.

I specify desktop because this hasn’t happened on mobile  yet.  That may come, who knows?  I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Initially I was going to wait to remove that top AdSense unit but given what the Google Product Forum thread sets out, it looks like the prudent thing to do is to get rid of high CTR ad units.  That’s no problem and for me it’s the unit below the post titles.

That’s about it.

I don’t think it’s a big deal in the long run.  I may take a hit on revenue, but since TBN and Media.net are paying out so well these days, they’ll do just fine and they’ll be happy to have ad placement at the top of my site.

By removing the high CTR AdSense unit, I’ll just wait until the arrow returns.

When the arrow returns to my existing AdSense ad units will I put AdSense at the top of the post below my titles again?

Probably not.  That would be kind of stupid I think unless I get wind that Google decides to stop implementing this “no Nessie arrow” program.

2. Continue growing Affiliate revenue

While affiliate revenue is still a fraction of display ads (I’ve been saying this for way too long) I will continue working hard to diversify beyond display ad revenue by hopefully growing my affiliate revenue.

I strongly suggest you do the same.

Opportunity comes a-knockin’

1. Lower Traffic Costs?

Normally I don’t like changes like this because it forces me to work hard after I already have a smoothly running operation.

However, that’s a poor way to look at what could be a monumental change with display ads.

My colleague who I chatted with this morning believes this offers some amazing opportunities.  I think he’s right.

Here’s the deal, this change targets sites with an abnormally high AdSense CTR, which are sites with pagination, clever ad placement … often buying traffic.

Yeah, that’s one of my sites, although I don’t do pagination, but I do have fairly aggressive placement.

The thing is it may well be the case that many sites that focus on buying traffic may no longer be able to buy traffic.

This is great because the cost of traffic may very well decrease.  For sites that can maintain decent RPM levels, buying traffic will cost lower (especially on the native ad networks like Outbrain and Taboola).

After all, the lion’s share of native advertisers are doing ad arbitrage.  If many get squeezed out, demand for clicks will go down.

It’s pure Economics 101.

BUT, and there’s always a but.  In order to take advantage of this potential opportunity, you must still be able to earn a decent RPM from ads.  If you still have the Nessie arrow, you might want to adjust placement.  If you no longer have the Nessie arrow, you’ll want to test other ad networks in those premium ad spots.

Moreover, it will take a few weeks at a minimum before the cost of traffic goes down, I think.  I may be wrong here though (I hope I’m wrong).

2. Higher earning Adsense alternatives

If AdSense RPM drops for many publishers, those publishers will use other ad networks which will help them grow, attract more advertisers and hopefully offer higher and higher RPMs.  This, I think, is a good development because it provides publishers with real AdSense alternatives.

FAQ

Please keep in mind this is a very new development so I can only speculate and report what I’m reading online.

Will I stop using AdSense altogether?

No.  I’ll put AdSense/Ezoic ads in places where the CTR is a bit lower.  Basically I’ll start by substituting my below-the-title AdSense unit with something else.  That’s the highest CTR unit.

Should you do anything if you still have the Nessie arrow?

I can’t answer that.  I don’t want to suggest the wrong thing because I don’t know what you should do.  I think if you have aggressive placement such as below the title or near navigation such as “next page” links, it might be good to use another ad network and see what happens.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

Can’t all sites adjust like you suggest so they can keep buying traffic?

Some can, many can’t.  The thing is many sites doing ad arbitrage are not terribly good sites and have largely capitalized on the Nessie arrow.  It really boils down on how much losing the Nessie arrow hurts a particular site.  While it’s hurt my site, it’s not catastrophic because I have very solid revenue from other ad networks.  In other words, my revenue is diversified across several ad networks.

Yes, the Nessie arrow helped me earn more, but I believe I can overcome its loss.

Please don’t take me wrong.  Buying traffic is not going to be easy.  It never was easy.  There are many moving parts.  The key is to figure out how to make it work.

OR, do what I’ve been focusing on for some time and that’s publish a site with a 3-prong traffic strategy which is: paid, organic search and organic social.  Even if I can’t buy traffic, I still have over 1 million monthly page views.  Even a dip in revenue from one or two ad units won’t hurt too much (it hurts, but I’ll figure it out).

The key here is change in this line of work is inevitable.  You must be flexible and ready to adapt quickly.

I will keep you updated with my developments.

Updates

April 6 though 13, 2016:  Desktop RPM dropped to less than one-half.  Nessie arrows still removed from ads as of April 13,0216.  RPM on mobile and tablet remains stable.

April 13, 2016:  Replaced below title AdSense (Ezoic) ad unit with 728×90 Media.net unit (desktop only).  The below title space is typically the best performing ad location so this is a significant change.  I’ve always run Google ads in this spot.  It’ll be interesting to see how Media.net performs.  Given the plunge in Google ad revenue, I have nothing to lose.

April 18, 2016: My arrows on desktop were restored over the weekend.  Desktop RPM increased nicely (as expected).  BUT, I currently still have a Media.net unit in the #1 earning ad spot (below title) and I think for now I’ll keep it there.   The thing is, that Media.net unit below the title is earning very well… nearly earning what AdSense earned in that spot (but still not as much as AdSense).

Another interesting observation is the RPM increased quite nicely with having removed the AdSense unit below the title which means the arrows do help revenue in below-the-fold ad units.

Here’s the deal.  I don’t know if the arrows are here to stay for all sites (it seems many sites have had their arrows restored) or if this is still part of testing and AdSense will turn arrows off on a per site basis based on CTR or some other criteria.

I’m going to play this day-by-day.  If it appears arrows are here to stay across the board, even in high CTR locations/sites, I MAY restore AdSense unit to below the title.   One other approach I’ll test is placing AdSense units somewhere else above the fold to see how it does with the Media.net unit in the top spot.

April 19, 2016:  Today I’m getting more image ads.  I haven’t seen an arrow on my B2C site that lost the arrows.  I’ve kept the Media.net unit (728x90px) below the title.  It keeps earning more and more each day so I’m very happy about that.  I’m going to do some pretty radical testing over the next 2 weeks… stuff I’ve never done before on my B2C site.  I’ll keep this updated and publish a post about it.  Stay tuned.

April 26, 2016: Nothing new to report.  My site still has no arrows on AdSense text ads.  C’est la vie.  Earnings still good though… just not quite as good if I had arrows.  At least it’s not catastrophic.

May 6, 2016:  Arrows have returned to my AdSense ads.

May 9, 2016:  Despite arrows returning to my AdSense ads, AdSense revenue is still at fairly low levels, which is a big surprise.  In fact, it appears the arrows have not increased revenue at all.

May 20, 2016:  Desktop arrows gone as of today after 10 days having them back.  Very strange.  They come back, they disappear and so on.  Totally unpredictable.

June 6, 2016:  Arrows were back as of yesterday, Sunday, June 5, 2016.

June 28, 2016:  

a. The BAD News: Arrows were again removed about two weeks ago and have been gone since then.  Amazingly, AdSense revenue is still decent, but definitely not as good if I had Nessie arrows.

FYI, I’ve heard from readers that a quasi arrow “penalty” is AdSense making text ads all grey instead of colored text/Nessie arrows.  Perhaps this is a middle of the line approach for AdSense to reduce CTR.  I’ve had my arrows flat-out removed so I have no idea how the greying of text ads impacts RPM.

b.  The GOOD News:  I’m absolutely delighted to report that I’ve not only replaced my lost AdSense revenue, but I’m now earning more from display ads with another ad network.  I’m still using AdSense, but this new ad network is pumping a mind-boggling $15+ RPM on its own (I’ve had $18 RPM days).  That plus AdSense and Media.net and I’m now making more on an RPM basis than ever.

What ad network has boosted my earnings to record levels?  It’s an alpha program soon to go to beta.  I can’t reveal the network yet, but I will as soon as this ad network gives me permission to do so.  Besides, before I go off touting how great this particular ad network is I want to ensure these RPM’s hold steady… or perhaps they’ll climb.  Stay tuned.  If you join my email newsletter, you’ll learn which ad network this is ASAP.

August 22, 2016:  Arrows returned to my AdSense ads on desktop.  Several days before this I removed the 728×90 unit from above-the-fold except for the 300×600 unit in the sidebar.  I’m not sure if restricting AdSense units to 1 above-the-fold did this or if it’s part of the very recent AdSense policy update (permitting more than 3 AdSense units per page).

I have a hunch the arrows returned because I now have only 1 AdSense unit above-the-fold.

November 30, 2016:  I had lost the arrows sometime in September, 2016, and they’ve since returned about 1 week ago (November 23 or thereabouts).

 

You might also like More from author

105 Comments

  1. Mike says

    You can find instances of Google doing this as far back as 2013.

    1. Jon says

      Yup, but this seems to be widespread since beginning of April 2016.

    2. Carl says

      Yes, it happened to me already in 2013, but then I go the arrows back about a year later. Now it just happened again, and it’s a lot worse since I’m relying on paid traffic now.

  2. jim says

    I have always thought those arrow ads induced accidental clicks, so this doesn’t surprise me at all.
    I think your response is right one… get another wide ad right above the content …

    Thanks for these insights, I don’t always agree with your opinions, but your experience and suggestions are always worth considering.

    I have been wondering about those paginated slide show sites too…. they just exploded everywhere in 2015, inspiring me and others to copy … and yet there too it seems they are really relying on accidental clicks for a substantial percentage of ad revenue….

    As always.. appreciating your work…

    ==>Jim

    1. Jon says

      Hey Jim,

      Thanks for your comment. We’ll just see what happens here. I’m going to do a lot of testing but will probably wait a day or two to get data on current set up to see what kind of drop, if any, I’m experiencing.

  3. Chris says

    Hi Jon,

    thanks for the awesome content – read your email at breakfast this morning and you had me right there.

    As many others we are also impacted but the problems seems to be not the Nessi Arrows. What is happening is that the ratio of Text ads vs Image/Rich Media skews completely in direction of image and rich media ads. Those have a way worse CTR then text ads, at least on our page.

    Do you have any recommendation on what to do?

    Cheers Chris

    1. Jon says

      Hey Chris,

      My understanding is what’s happening is the Nessie arrows are removed, which causes text ad CTR to plummet so AdSense then displays image based ads. But that’s besides the point. Whatever is happening is desktop RPM is plummeting for many publishers. I too now have far more image ads on my site but I was able to spot a text ad that did not have the Nessie arrow.

      As to what should be done. I’m going to let the dust settle for a day or two. I can confirm now that it’s been 24 hours, RPM and revenue is down for me.

      I will start testing replacement units in the high ad CTR spots to see if I can rebound rpm. I’ll test Media.net and The Blogger Network units.

      I think once CTR is down for the AdSense units, Nessie arrows will come back based on my researching the matter. It’s similar to the 2-click penalty AdSense has levied in the past… the 2-click AdSense penalty is applied and then it’s gone after a few weeks (at least for me).

      Of course the bigger issue is avoiding the Nessie arrow removal going forward once it’s restored which means placing AdSense ads in the higher CTR locations isn’t really an option.

      I think next week, if you’ve purchased traffic, it will be interesting to see ad rates for traffic. I suspect they’ll start going down in 1 to 4 weeks.

  4. Oleg says

    Finally I found any wide info for this subject lol
    Some of my sites were hurt too… Huge drop in Desktop CTR (3x times)…Going to make some tests with Ezoic with mediation of Adsense + Media.net to be placed not such agressive, maybe it will find some good combinations and later I will get my arrows back 🙂

    Thx Jon! Please keep it updates

  5. Arun C says

    My RPM tumbled to $2.55 from $22.8 , I was making around $500 a day now peanuts 🙁

    1. Jon says

      Is that this month in April 2016? That’s a huge tumble very quickly.

      1. Arun C says

        Yes this month , till march end it was doing great

  6. Chris says

    Hi Jon,

    So as with many our RPM is also down, and our Adsense Account manager actually confirmed this sort of penalty of removing the arrows.

    We still have text ads on the site, but the CPC is down at least 30-40% for the text ads – very strange. So while we might not have been hit, the total numbers are still down 40%.

    How does your recovery plan come along? Did you replace your topad with Media Net or Blogger Network? I see that ive been far too reliant on Adsense. Will sign up for Ezoic, Taboola and Revcontent asap.

    Cheers Chris

    1. Jon says

      Hey Chris,

      After hemming and hawing I decided to keep the Ezoic Ad Exchange/AdSense ads in place through the weekend to see what the RPM ends up at so I know what I need to exceed with other ads. Moreover, I’m working with Media.net ad design group to test some custom ad designs and they won’t be ready until Monday morning. If RPM is down significantly with Google ads through the weekend, I’ll be testing Media.net in the top spot and The Blogger Network ads and see what RPM levels I can reach. I’m pretty confident I’ll do pretty well.

      So far, 36 hours after the AdSense change, RPM is down, but it’s not horrendous. I’m actually surprised it’s not worse, but it’s noticeably down.

  7. Mike says

    @Jon – Many thanks for sharing these insights and creating a forum where we can discuss these changes. I had posted on the Webmaster World board a few weeks back about the arrows missing, however they came back within the same day. Now they’re completely gone.

    They were still showing up on tablet yesterday and this morning, but now they’re absent from tablet as well.

    I am seeing the same issue with image ads…they’re everywhere, almost no text ads at all. And without the arrow, not only does the CTR go way down, they look bad with a ton of white space. I was really hoping they stayed on tablet, but it looks like they may be gone for good.

    Mobile ads still displaying with some form of an arrow, but they’re a different ad style altogether. However I do think these are much more visually appealing than simply text.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike,

      Thanks for the update regarding tablet. I had another Fat Stacks reader tell me today that his arrows have returned. This is a very strange thing.

      I’m still waiting on a new Media.net ad design I want to deploy below the title so I have not yet removed an AdSense ads. I’m hoping tomorrow unless of course my arrows return.

      I think the mobile arrows will remain since the mobile ad unit design is new and I noticed a lower CTR on the new design which helped reduce accidental clicks.

      1. Filip says

        Did reader that got arrows back told you had he made any layout changes (or any changes at all)?

        Cheers,
        Filip

        1. Jon says

          Hey Filip,

          He didn’t mention anything about that so I don’t know. It sounded like he didn’t because they just came back but I don’t know for sure.

  8. Mike says

    One more thing…I thought about switching to text only ads as they still likely yield a higher RPM than image ads. My data has always showed a much higher CTR on text ads vs. image ads which is pretty obvious. But whenever I switch to text only, my CTR and RPM actually go down! It’s kind of unbelievable. I get that it allows less advertisers in the auction which can drive down overall CPC, but the CTR should definitely be going up.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike,

      Yeah, it is odd how selecting text only plummets revenue. You’d think that wouldn’t be the case at least to such a degree.

  9. Lee says

    The arrow always shows up on Firefox but not Chrome, Safari which is strange.

  10. Rob says

    Hey Jon,

    Thanks for taking the time to blog about this.

    Being dependent on third parties ad network is a pain…

    Did you ever think of selling ads directly to advertisers ?

    Depending on your niche, your traffic on a specific page (and specific subject) could potentially be very valuable for an ecommerce store. You could boost traffic to this page using FB ads and at least you are more in control of the revenue…

    What are your thoughts ?

    Cheers !

    Rob.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Rob,

      I don’t care much for selling ads directly. It’s a hassle but I suppose I could do it on buysellads. I just prefer ad networks because it’s easier. I have sold ads directly and if the offer is really good I do it, but it has to be a really good offer.

  11. Mike says

    I’m also not buying that this penalty is site-specific and it can come back with changes to the website. I have several other websites that have very basic adsense implementation. I’m talking 1 unit per page smack in the middle of 500+ words of content. The arrows are gone there too.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike,

      Now that’s very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Maybe Google is doing away with the arrows altogether or at least doing some testing on a very wide scale. All we can do is wait and see. In the meantime I’m testing other ads. No need settling for terrible revenue when there are other options to at least try.

      1. Lester says

        I did receive an email from Google with an actual person replying back to it upon my reply to the email.

        Basically what he said was that I should improve the experience of my visitors by changing the padding of my ad units and also changing some to responsive. They may switch back to arrows for me later.

        1. Jon says

          Very interesting Lester. Thanks for sharing that here.

  12. Mike says

    @Jon Curious to know if you ended up seeing any dramatic changes in adsense CTR and RPM after the arrows were removed. You mentioned the changes didn’t seem devastating but for the majority of us it seems like everything has tanked down to next to nothing.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike, my desktop RPM is down 50%. It’s bad. I’ve now put Media.net units above the fold. I did this today. I’ll see how well this works.

      1. Mike says

        Interesting, thanks for the feedback.

        I just asked my media.net rep to remove Adsense from the rotation, because those will probably yield the same low RPM’s as my own adsense.

        Please let us know how the new media.net implementation goes for you; I may replace my top adsense ad with a custom media.net unit as well…

        1. Jon says

          Hey Mike,

          I’ll update the post once I get some decent Media.net revenue data. It would be great if you stopped by with your own updates. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  13. steve says

    Google is now my worst performing network by FAR!!!

    They aren’t even in competition anymore for these other networks. The only reason i’ve left them is because i’m afraid of loosing the organic searches.

    The only Adsense spots that can even come close to what a right side navigation unit will produce from Amazon or Lijit (BTF), are ads that are basically inside of your text content.

    Even still, those units pay less than other networks which are BTF.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Steve,

      Thanks for stopping by. Fortunately I still do well with mobile/tablet AdSense, but desktop isn’t so good. I now have Media.net taking up the best 2 positions on my site and they perform very well. I’ll probably split test Media.net and Adsense a bit more going forward on desktop.

      Fortunately these days there are some really good AdSense Alternatives.

      1. Filip says

        Could you make Adsense vs. Media.net RPM comparation?

        1. Jon says

          Hey Filip,

          I wish I could publicly but AdSense forbids revealing RPM numbers.

          1. Filip says

            Sure thing, but you can compare them. I.E. Media.net RPM is 20% lower than Adsense 🙂

      2. Tri says

        Ah so the arrows haven’t come back for you yet? They came back for me over the weekend and man it makes a huge difference. WMW thread shows that it is also coming back for some people too. Hope it comes back for you too dude.

        1. Jon says

          Hey Tri,

          I just hit the desk this morning (Monday, April 18, 2016) and I too have had arrows restored. I noticed the same thing in the WMW April Adsense Earnings thread.

          I swapped out my highest AdSense CTR ad with a Media.net. The question is do I put the AdSense/Ezoic unit back in the high CTR location (below the title) or keep Media.net there to avoid pushing the envelope.

          I’m thinking for now I’m going to keep the Media.net unit below the title and see how this arrow thing plays out. If it seems it was a temporary test by Google and arrows are here to stay, even on higher CTR sites, I’ll probably put the AdSense/Ezoic unit back below the title because it did earn a tad bit more than Media.net.

          The good news for me though is my Media.net unit below the title performed really, really well so I’m actually pretty happy keeping it there. I know I’m fortunate though because I do have a viable alternative in Media.net.

  14. Mike says

    I just noticed the arrows are back for me on desktop as well and I didn’t even make any changes…not sure what happened…

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike,

      I think most people are getting them back having made no changes.

      1. Mike says

        It’s quite curious…the only thing I can think of is that Google was losing too much money 🙂 Accidental clicks aside, the ads without the arrows looked horrible.

        1. Jon says

          I agree the ads without arrows looked bad. Big blank spaces especially in larger ads.

          It’s anyone’s guess what Google’s motivation is for removing them and now restoring them. I wonder if advertisers complained about lower traffic volume as well. The thing is while accidental clicks are not the goal, with contextual and retargeting ads, a good number of accidental clicks are likely relevant to advertisers and so aren’t a total waste. In fact, maybe having those accidental clicks is better than far fewer clicks altogether for advertisers.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Greg,

      Yup, seems like it’s back to normal. Of course now we’re all on edge waiting for the sky to fall again.

      I think everyone should test other ad networks for a plan B. I’m doing that. I’m going to try some new stuff I’ve never done before to increase diversified ad revenue sources. I’m already fairly diversified but it doesn’t hurt to keep on testing.

  15. Mike says

    Arrows are once again gone on desktop. Lots of flip flopping going on still.

    1. Jon says

      I didn’t notice today, but now that you mention it I’m seeing image ads exclusively. It’s a wild ride for sure. I think for now I’ll keep Media.net below title. My Media.net unit below the title keeps earning more and more each day.

      1. Tri says

        Hah yup, arrows once again gone. But like you Jon, Media.net is performing rather well for me so it’s not a total disaster. However I will say this, AdSense performed much better (with the arrows) with Facebook ad traffic…for me at least.

        1. Arun C says

          Did the arrows came back ?

  16. Learner says

    Hi,

    Today few websites who lost arrow yesterday are again showing arrows but some are not. It is coming and going again and again.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Learner,

      Yeah, that’s my experience. It’s totally random. I’ve seen them on my site today and not on my site.

      1. Learner says

        It appears that sites with high CTR are affected. I talked to many friends. Those with low CTR still have arrows.

        1. Jon says

          I suspect the same. One thing that was odd though was on the day the Arrows returned to my site (Monday, April 19), I had removed my high CTR Adsense unit and yet the arrows went missing the following day.

          Anyway, while my revenue is down a bit, my Media.net below the title is doing really well so it’s not that bad. It’s a bad situation for any site where only AdSense generates okay revenue.

          1. Learner says

            It appears to me that, it’s permanent now. I mean the sites which lost the arrows last time on Monday are permanent. Because there isn’t any change yet since then.

            By the way, you are a good publisher, did you talk to Google AdSense Team Support?

          2. Jon says

            I wouldn’t deem anything permanent after 1 week at all. I think unless an account is banned, there’s always a way to get back to full standing with arrows. BUT, it’s kind of moot as far as I’m concerned because even if I get the arrow back, I’m not going to put AdSense ads back to where I had them because they’ll disappear again. It’s a game of cat and mouse. Which means having them returned is meaningless.

            Instead, I’m focusing on working with Media.net and mobile revenue. After all, if I can’t put AdSense back in high-earning spots with arrows, having the arrows returned won’t do much for me anyway.

            Fortunately Media.net revenue is excellent and my Ezoic revenue is still decent… just not quite as good as it was. I thought my overall Ezoic revenue would take a bigger hit, but it’s still earning decently overall. I guess the other ad units are stilling paying well.

          3. Learner says

            Arrows are back for me. But Since it was gone, I am not taking Desktop Traffic. Maybe If I take desktop traffic. It may go again.

            One thing, Overall RPM for Tablet is very low (As I’m only taking Tablet for now). Seems like because of this, They have also reduced the CPC for the account. Which means we are actually earning less these days with them because of lower CPC set by them.

          4. Learner says

            Arrows are gone again after they came for some days.

  17. Andy says

    This is strange, arrows from all my sites where removed 2 days back, only 1 of my website was indulged in aggressive placement near the pagination. Most of sites have high quality long articles with 2 units only. My RPM for the site with aggressive placement is just the 25% of what it used to be.

    1. Jon says

      Yup, while I suspect Nessie removal generally targeted higher ad CTR sites, some with not so aggressive ad placement were hit too. I still don’t have all the answers on this issue. It’s going to be week-by-week I’m afraid.

  18. Andy says

    It would be great if you share some networks which offer Nessie arrow ads

    1. Jon says

      AdSense and any network that uses Ad Exchange will. However, if your site was targeted by AdSense for nessie removal, a different ad network won’t help. It’s an AdSense issue.

  19. James says

    Hi Jon,

    May I ask what is your current ad setup? 5 Ezoic ads, 3 adsense, 1 media.net ad then 1 TBN ad?

    Thank you for giving us detailed information as usual.

    Have a great day!

    Regards,
    James

    1. Jon says

      Hey James,

      Long content: 5 Ezoic, 3 Media.net and I vary TBN ads.
      Shorter content: Few Ezoic and TBN.

  20. Mike says

    Arrows have been back for me across all devices since yesterday (4/25) morning.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike,
      That’s a great and I bet a relief. Did you make any changes with ad placement to get the arrows back?

      1. Mike says

        No I did not…

        I’ve been seeing them back everywhere so I kind of assumed everyone had them back. Are they still gone for you?

        1. Jon says

          They’re not back for me. I’ve even removed AdSense from above the fold except for one sidebar unit. Go figure.

          1. Mike says

            The only thing I can think of is that I took a break (about a week) from sending traffic to my sites. Maybe since there was less traffic = lower CTR and they came back…

  21. Matt says

    Hey Jon,

    Quick question for you: I have 3 Adsense ads (and a Taboola widget) on my site right now. What is Google’s policy on placing additional ads from other ad networks (Media.net) on a page. I’d love to place more ads on my page, but not sure whether I’m in violation.

    Thanks,

    Matt

    1. Jon says

      Hey Matt,

      I use Ezoic’s 5 ads which includes some AdSense if AdSense wins the bid for the spot plus 3 Media.net. I’ve not had a problem with this, but please keep in mind that AdSense makes its own rules. I can only tell you what I do. As far as I know having 3 AdSense and 3 Media.net ads is fine. My understanding is that as long as the ads look different than AdSense it’s okay to run additional ads from another network.

  22. Mike says

    @Jon I’ve been closely following some bigger sites where I saw the arrows disappear and it looks like they’re back for all of them. They’ve been back for me for quite some time. Are yours back yet?

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike,

      As of last Friday (May 6/16) the arrows were back. I too have seen them on sites that were missing them.

  23. Mike says

    New update: noticing that my mobile RPM has been decreasing starting yesterday, find out it’s due to about 40% drop in CTR. Checked out my site on mobile and I’m getting all image ads. Sure enough I go into my performance reports and see that Google is now showing a large and ever increasing amount of image based ads compared to text. Looks like another also update for mobile specifically.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike,

      Thanks for the update. That’s news to me. I just had arrows restored to desktop 5 days ago so my revenue is fluctuating as it seems many publishers’ revenue is fluctuating.

  24. Stefan says

    Hello Jon,

    Yesterday i have lost arrows on one my biggest website once again. I see that many other websites still have them. Is it only me, or you have noticed more websites that lost arrow ads as well?

    1. Jon says

      From what I can tell it’s pretty random… they’re being turned on and off.

  25. Sojib Rahman says

    Hey Jon,

    Today I lost my Arrow Again. Last month for the first time Google Disable my Arrow in 25th April. And After one month they do the same !!

    I was got arrow back after 15 days. It’s disapointed to getting that kind of behaviour from Google. I don’t know what they want? Around 80% earning drop my website.

    Just found your post and get lots of information for implementing another network. I’m doing buy traffic from Facebook Ads and If Google gives me that arrow, My earning ROI 200-500%. But not It’s not more than 50%. What should be better at this time? Need a good advice from you.
    Thanks

    1. Jon says

      Sorry Sojib, I don’t have any advice except you’re probably still doing okay with AdSense on mobile (I am) and start working with other ad networks. There are other decently paying networks these days.

      1. Sojib Rahman says

        So, What would be better Ad Network? My Plan is

        1. Google AdSense 2 Ad Unit. 1 above the fold and another one in Sidebar or Bottom of Content
        2. Media.net 3 Ads Unit. 1 in Bottom of Title, 1 in Header 1 in Up Right Sidebar
        3. Mgid.com Native content network. Bottom of Article and Sidebar. And with exit popup
        4. Some CPA offer which is relevant to viral website (if you have any idea about offer, please give me some idea)

        That’s my plan. Now could you please tell me that is perfect for monetization?

        Thanks

        1. Jon says

          Hey Sojib,

          The best configuration is the one that makes you the most money. Try them all and see what works best.

          1. Sojib Rahman says

            Thanks, Today I got back my Arrows Again 🙂 It’s coming quickly than the previous time. Hope Now they consider putting arrows permanently.

            By the way. What you think about RPM rate. Which is the safe RPM range? My RPM was $5-$7 . Now I will try to keep them into $2.5-$3, What you think about that?

  26. eddy says

    Hey Guys, just lost my arrows on May 24. My ads were aggressively placed with paginated content. Going to change the layout of the site and try to get them back. Rpms have dropped about 6 times normal value which is not good for me.

    1. Learner says

      I’ve the same stuff. What changes are you making?

      1. eddy says

        Hey Learner,

        I made the layout more friendly. It’s very obvious now how to go to the next page and the nessie arrow won’t cause any confusion. As a publisher I should of done this from the beginning, but you live you learn.

        A big plus today is my arrows have come back. I lost them May 24 and it is exactly 2 weeks since then. I check my site every day using incognito mode and they are definitely back. Hopefully they stay too!

        I noticed on my account that I’ve been getting a lot more placement ads when i do a report on targeting type compared to before. My traffic is definitely backing out for the advertisers and I think google knows too.

  27. Gaurav says

    Hey Jon, Do you think if the arrows would be back or are they gone for good ?

    1. Jon says

      I think they come and go depending on CTR. I’ve had them come and go a few times. I can only speculate what’s going on. I’ve started working with other ad networks to be even less dependent on AdSense. I still use AdSense because the revenue is still good, but diversifying with other networks is a good idea.

      1. Gaurav says

        The best alternative to adsense seems to be media.net but I think they have pretty strict publisher terms and require a lot of traffic to let people in. Also, have you observed that adsense arrows return after the CTR is under a certain percentage ?

  28. Mike says

    I don’t think there’s any real way to get around it anymore – if you have a high CTR that we’ve all enjoyed over the last months, years or whatever – that’s gone. You can try and be less aggressive with the ad placement and maybe your arrows will come back; but that likely only means they’re back because your CTR is lower and you’re still making less ROAS anyway.

    When I first got the arrows removed on desktop, I switched more so to mobile traffic because I still had arrows there and the return on ad spend was decent. But, within a few weeks, the arrows were gone on my mobile ads and obviously CTR and return on ad spend dropped. And while I was focusing on mobile, my desktop arrows came back! Go figure…it’s because I wasn’t buying desktop traffic anymore and therefore my desktop ad CTR went back down. I’m sure if I started pushing desktop traffic again with the same ad placement, the arrows would be gone in due time.

    I’ve been adopting Jon’s strategy of trying to work in other ad networks while still using adsense to some degree because as Jon says, the payout is still good.

    I’m now using a combination of media.net, adsense and native ad networks. It’s more work and the return is much less, but there is still something there, for now.

    @Sojib Rahman – 200%+ return is pretty amazing. But you know what…50% return is still pretty awesome. If I were you, I would not be upset with that, but rather look at it as the new normal. I think it’s safe to say that 50% return is better than most of the sites out there are doing.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike,

      I think your assessment is spot on. My AdSense arrows are currently gone because as soon as they returned I cranked up some paid campaigns so they come and go. Thanks for the detailed comment.

  29. Zak says

    This is a huge update and probably comes off the back of complaints from advertisers seeing diminishing ROI on their CPC budgets. If this has been rolled out network wide imagine the total revenue impact it will have!

  30. Kostas says

    Hey Jon,
    thank you for this article.
    My story is that 28 of may – my adsense CTR dropped 3 times.
    I’ve try to work with FB traffic – and I saw arrows from time to time.
    Also I saw arrows, then I ordered mobile traffic.
    10-11 of june CTR back, so I decided that the arrows back too.
    But from 12 of june – same dropped CTR and no arrows (

    PS: sorry for my english. im from Lithuania.

  31. Gaurav says

    Hello Jon,

    Do you have any knid of idea about what CTR range generally removes arrows from adsense ? One of my sites had 3-4% CTR and it got it with the nessie update.
    Also what would be a safe RPM if there is any ?

    1. Jon says

      Hey Gaurav,

      I have no idea. Wish I knew. The interesting thing is if I move AdSense so that CTR is low, I earn less than I earn not having Nessie arrows so for now I have 2 AdSense units in premium spots but no Nessie arrows and earnings are okay… not as good as if I had Nessie arrows, but better than the alternative.

  32. Penn Wooding says

    I can’t say I’ve ever noticed my Nessie arrows disappearing, I was never really aware of them in the first place, although they were probably always there. However, mine seems to have come back now. Now if I remember they always used to be blue in colour. I recently re-implemented a 300 x 250 ad unit and put it into the first paragraph of text on some of my articles. For the first week or so the Nessie arrow was exactly the same blue as my navigational buttons. However, last night I was looking at the website and I’ve noticed they’ve changed completely to dark grey. I’m not sure why this has happened. Having said that, when the ad unit is showing text link, the title is in the blue that I assigned in the first place, the same blue as my navigation. So at least people will still look upon this as a clickable link. But it just seems weird that about a week Nessie arrows were a nice blue, now they’ve changed, all of them.

    1. Jon says

      I’ve heard of this happening too. I lost the arrows completely so I’d be happy for all grey. It seems AdSense is doing a lot of testing with arrows and ad CTR.

  33. Trevor says

    Which ad network are you saying is pumping out $15 dollar rpms? Kind of confusing in your most recent update. Adsense has added and removed nessie button back and fourth. I have a website that dropped from $8 RPM with adsense(insane for adsense I know) down to a measly .34 cents. Want to move as far away from adsense as possible.

    1. Jon says

      My new ad network is in alpha right now so I can’t reveal it but I will very soon as soon as they are ready to do a full roll out.

  34. Mike says

    Update: I went back to desktop traffic and arrows were gone within a few days. It still blows my mind how so many of these massive arbitrage sites still have all arrow/text ads – I’m not even seeing image ads on their sites at all. They get massive amounts of traffic, way more than me, and yet they are still happily chugging along with arrows. It seems so bizarre that the Google algorithm change isn’t being triggered for some sites to remove the arrows. Just venting a bit here!

    CTR is so incredibly low now that I’m making more from a sidebar adsense ad than a prime placement header ad.

    Thinking of switching to media.net altogether, and maybe just keep adsense in the sidebar.

    Then keep native ads in the footer – those are still doing well.

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike,

      I totally agree. I too see sites with a very likely high CTR having the arrows. I’m working with a new ad network that’s doing very well for me. It’s in alpha but once I can share the network, I will. Media.net is still chugging nicely for me too and surprisingly my AdSense 300×600 and mobile leaderboard ad units still perform well despite no arrows for me either.

      1. Arun C says

        Media.net good with facebook arbitrage ?

        btw Nessie never came back for me 🙁

        1. Jon says

          Hey Arun,

          Media.net is good for additional revenue. I earn more with AdSense and Monumetric, but still earn a nice chunk daily with Media.net. Media.net is fine with Facebook traffic.

  35. Salomon says

    Hi Jon,
    Thanks for this info. I have a site with 200k visitors a month, the 28/01/16 this started happening, it seems they are playing around now using a little circular arrow and no arrow at all. The killed my profit by 80% mostly my mobile revenue but also desktop, I am devastated. Any chance you hook me up with this new network via email? any help will be appreciated!

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Jon says

      Hey Salomon,

      The new ad network is Monumetric and for some time it has outearned AdSense for me. Sorry to hear about your drop in revenue.

      1. salomon says

        thanks! i will try that.

  36. Mike says

    Hey John,

    Are the arrows still back for you on desktop?

    1. Jon says

      Hey Mike,

      No they aren’t.

      1. Mike says

        Thanks for the update.

        One good thing I’m noticing for my sites and competitors is that despite arrows coming and going, text ads are still appearing. I’m hoping Google is looking at the data and realizing a happier medium between text and image ads is a win win for all. Text ads without the arrow still perform a lot better in my experience than image-based ads.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.