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F*** Mobile Usability – Google Now Allows 300×250 Adverts Above the Fold on Mobile Sites

Google is a schizoid company. On the one side, we have engineers inventing tech like AMP, a search engine, and self-driving cars and generally making the world a better place.

On the other side, however, are the ad folks that actually generate all the revenue.  They’re responsible for pushing all the organic search results off of the search results page, allowing interstitial adverts on mobile sites, and generally making the experience of using Google' products and services worse.

According to Techcrunch, the latter got the upper hand today:

Google today announced a change to its AdSense policy that will remove a limitation previously in place that restricted certain kinds of ads “above the fold” – meaning, visible on a website without scrolling down the page. The company says that it will now allow its 300×250 medium rectangle ads to be implemented above the fold on the mobile web, without resulting in AdSense violations.

Oh great.

These ads take up a good amount of space on a small screen as it is, but at least until today you wouldn’t have to encounter them unless you were scrolling down the page while reading an article. Now Google is saying they can appear on the visible part of the page you see when you first click through to a mobile website. That doesn’t leave much room for content – like the headline, leading image or article text – especially on smaller-screened devices.

This will mean more screen real estate taken up by an ad and less content, so it’s going to suck for users.

That said, I can understand why Google changed their policy. Like any business dependent on ad revenues, the only way to make more money is to charge more for ads, increase the userbase so you can show more ads, or find new places to display more ads.

Google has a financial incentive to make the user experience worse (Facebook operates under a similar incentive), and today their attention turned to mobile websites.

Existing mobile ads focused on a 320 x 80 ad unit, and it hardly pays anything at all. So if Google wants to make more money then they have to allow for bigger ads on mobile.

This policy change was inevitable, as were all the others.

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Smoley May 2, 2017 um 10:27 pm

I find the use of profanity in this story’s headline offensive. Why do you resort to things like this? Are you 12 years old?

I’m removing the link to your website from my Favorites and won’t be coming back.

Nate Hoffelder May 2, 2017 um 11:03 pm

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the ay out!

getreal May 2, 2017 um 11:00 pm

I agree with Smoley’s comment. Too many bloggers are using this tactic to attract a larger audience. I’ve removed many links for the very same reason.

Patricia Lenhart May 3, 2017 um 1:02 am

I agree with Smoley. The profanity is both unnecessary and inappropriate. I would expect better of a site directed to readers.

Robert N May 3, 2017 um 9:15 am

Have you visited your local library in the last 20 years? That place is 74% smutty romance novels. I think we can all handle one censored F-word.

Irish Imbas Books May 3, 2017 um 2:56 am

Interesting post.
Being Irish I have no issues with the 'f' word.

hayden May 3, 2017 um 7:26 am

People can be a little sensitive with some English words.

I have heard the F word used by 12 year olds and many adults. I find the meaning of this word is derived from the context when it is used. In this case, I cannot see how it is offensive.

What Google is permitting with these ads is to make websites terrible for viewing and it will not just be the Irish who would use the F word when viewing these websites on a small phone.

Frank May 3, 2017 um 9:02 am

I don’t like a big ad either, but Google needs to make money in order to operate the good stuff (search, Gmail, Android). It was going to happen sometime.

Nate, you misspelled incentive as "inentive".

Nate Hoffelder May 3, 2017 um 9:34 am

My spellcheck disagrees with you.

Mortified May 3, 2017 um 9:11 am

Oh my! Heavens to Murgatroyd! I am ever so shocked! A masked-out F-word? I just about fainted in my seat. My co-workers all rushed to my desk to see why I shrieked a moment ago. I’m so shaken I probably won’t be able to sleep tonight.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to visit the haberdasher on my penny-farthing. I hope I don’t flash too much ankle along the way. I’d hate to cause a stir.

Nate Hoffelder May 3, 2017 um 9:34 am

That’s because I changed it after the complaints.

Satisfied May 3, 2017 um 9:46 am

Well, I hope you think about what you’ve done!

BTW, I’m pretty proud of my shout-out to Snagglepuss. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to f***ing exit, stage left.

Eric May 3, 2017 um 10:30 am

So many people whining and complaining at a standard F word as if it was directed at them.
This is the direct result of living in a current feminized, politically correct matriarchy run by angry women and sensitive feminized men.
Do your thing Nate.

moonlightmojo May 4, 2017 um 9:00 am

Well, I had a big long post on why it’s a centuries-old thing for people to object to and that “the feminized, politically correct matriarchy run by angry women and sensitive feminized men” are the ones with profanity-laden speech to make them feell all powerful and grown-up and stuff. But it went poof, so I’ll just say you’re being a cunt.

Victor May 4, 2017 um 9:19 am

Ok, this was by far the worst commentary in this thread.

Patricia Lenhart May 3, 2017 um 2:50 pm

"This is the direct result of living in a current feminized, politically correct matriarchy run by angry women and sensitive feminized men."
If that’s the type of reader you’re looking for Nate, good job.

Victor May 3, 2017 um 9:53 pm

Nate, I read your blog for years now. And I completely understand the title of this post and why you chose it. But I guess your writting style passed unnoticed to many that complained about the use of the f-word. I clicked the post for the ads' subject, and came for the comments to look for others points of view on it… I was quite surprised by what I found!

Anyway, keep the good work, as you’ve been doing for this long.

Oh, and sorry for the broken english!

moonlightmojo May 4, 2017 um 9:09 am

I just click away from those websites. The content is never worth the hassle of nabigating them or the constant refreshing. Mommy blogs and DIY blogs are the worst.

Scott Lewis May 7, 2017 um 12:17 pm

Some of the commenters here are absurd. If you’re of the strong opinion that cursing on a news / blog site, great. But why not allow others to have an equally valid OPINION that they’d prefer not to have seen an F bomb in the headline.

But even more absurd, I just disabled my ad blocker on my mobile phone and read this article. Good gosh is this site full of junk. I want to support indie bloggers. But a headline font size plus headline banner ad that dominated the entire screen obscuring any bit of article text. Plus a static footer ad, and a giant WordPress ad that appeared while scrolling that further reduced what little real estate was around. And the end of the article is just drowned in ads.

Nate, I appreciate you wanting to recoup your costs and eek out a living, but complaining about AdWords hurting mobile web usability on this site is a bit much.

Personally, I can do without the F bombs, but I don’t leave a site over it either. But man, the ads… I mean, wow!

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