Using AdSense image ads to increase revenue

AdSense Optimization Boot Camp Tip # 1 

I am a firm believer (with the stats to back it up) that adding a second AdSense placement on a webpage can lead to a loss of revenue, because with lower paying ads in a second ad unit, you can lose revenue per click when someone clicks those second ad placement ads instead of the first.  You can make a lot more money with a single well-placed ad unit over having multiple ad units.

The other disadvantage of having multiple ad units is that they can make your site seem very “ad heavy”, something which many people try and avoid.  For one, it is not very user-friendly, and when you hit that tipping point of ads vs. content, it can seem more “Made for AdSense”-ish than most prefer, where you want people to click on the ads and not bother with what you have to say. 

An alternate solution is to use an AdSense image ad only placement, where only an image ad will show, and text ads will not display.  This will help keep down the number of text ads appearing on your site (especially if you are already supplementing AdSense with other types of text ads or text links).

A couple things to keep in mind when you do this:

  • Because most people have their accounts set to either text only or text/image ads, you will need to select “image ads only” when you generate your AdSense code.
  • Second (and third) ad units on a page won’t display PSAs, but you can use the collapse ad space javascript.
  • Use a channel so you can track revenue
  • Be sure to pick an image ad friendly ad size.  These are:
    • Leaderboard (728×90)
    • Banner (468×60)
    • Skyscraper (120×600)
    • Wide Skyscraper (160×600)
    • Small square (200×200)
    • Square (250×250)
    • Medium Rectangle (300×250)
    • Large rectangle (336×280)
  • If ad inventory could be an issue (depending on both the market area and physical location of your visitors), start with a banner ad or one of the more common rectangles.
  • You may also see video ads show in the image ad space.  If you prefer video, avoid using the banner ad size in the above ad unit size list.

If your website has room to accomodate an image ad as a secondary ad unit – or to replace a secondary ad unit – it can be worth testing to increase ad revenue.

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24 comments to Using AdSense image ads to increase revenue

  • Interesting idea which may work well in crowded markets like North America but I’ve found that allowing image ads on my Australian sites doesnt convert because there are few relevent image ads to display

    PS your twitter widget needs a larger font for content I can’t read the text inside it (Firefox 2 – 1280×1024)

  • Jenstar

    The US market definitely has a large share of image ads compared to some of the other smaller markets, probably because it started in the US for advertisers using images. Some ad delivery systems will allow you to geotarget this ad position. But as a secondary ad placement – especially since Google won’t show PSAs in it – it is something that is easy to test without drawing revenue away from text ads.

  • Jen – Completely agree that using a single ad unit performs best but in the case of long articles, don’t you think adding a second ad unit will help especially when the page extends several folds.

  • Hi,

    Where are the stats? : )

  • Jenstar

    Amit – definitely, longer pages can use second and third ad units successfully. But when a page is no more than screen length, or slightly longer, two ad units can make it ad heavy and earn less. One of the upcoming tips deals specifically with optimization for longer pages, and another will address specifically how to know when it is better to use one vs. two or three.

    Machinista – I sign NDAs with clients, so unfortunately I cannot share their specific stats (both due to the NDA and the AdSense Terms). I might see if I can find some of my own data on this from my personal testing though, or generalize the results a bit.

  • Thanks Jen – That’s just perfect.

    I normally use use a text unit at the top and an adlink unit at the bottom – it turns out to be a decent combination.

  • Ad links at the bottom is one of the best spots for them.

  • Hi Jen,
    Thats great info. I am very keen to hear what you have to say about longer pages. I have a real estate forum which allows 10 posts per page and using 3 units works well for me.

    Let me know if you need a guinea pig for your long page tips. Here’s a typical long page, 3 unit scenario on my site:


  • Bob – I will have a couple tips for forums coming up, they are a whole different beast when it comes to optimizing them for AdSense!

  • Donavon

    I’d be curious to find out if this has the same effects for forums as well.

  • Interesting idea.

    Combined with a couple of other things I’ve read on lower paying ad units being served on second ad units, this provides a different option for optimizing the ad units.

    Now I’m using one text only skyscraper, one image only skyscraper and one link unit where before I was using three text only skyscrapers.


  • Jen,
    I look forward to your forum tips. They are a totally different beast – one where a 2% CTR would be heaven.

    I am currently testing colour rotation and trying to figure out if blening ads to the page actually works on forums. My initial results say contrast your colours and don’t blend. And alsways position ads close to your navigation.

  • Hello,
    I am currently thinking of putting a square image ad at the bottom of my pages instead of Leaderboard.

    In north America, I am quite sure that most of the sizes work better but for the rest of the world (where I live!), which size is the most easy to find?

    As Problogger said, most of the designers do not care about large rectangle (336*280) size. I am also curious about medium rectangle (300*200).

    Is squares (250*250 and 200*200) better for finding an ad to display?

    I appreciate any comment about my websites: PB Archaeology and PB Archaeology Photos

  • Hi Everybody

    I have been blogging for uite sometime, I am getting enough visitors a day… But not much click stats like 200 page views a day with not more than 5 clicks with low CTR. Can anyone help me how to improve my adsense revenue. Waiting for your reply.

    Visit :
    Mail ur suggestions to :

  • […] Blog posts and documentation, it seems that Google’s image ads are not getting used as well as they should. Image ads for adwords provide a great way to syndicate your business’s unique image all […]

  • I barely had any success with text image ads as a banner, so i’ll try Adsense image ads.
    Thanks for the article

  • I think I’ll try the image only ads as you suggest and see how that goes for a while.

  • Dear Jen,

    would it be compliable to adsense rules if I used my image ads in the middle of say a big wall of text

    I plan on spreading two image ads throughout my usually-2-page articles

    thank you,

  • I have tested image ads unit on my site and I get less clicks. So I have used txt link ads for all pages which gets more clicks.

  • I am using 3 ads unit, does that mean that I have to eliminate some?

    I noticed that 468×15 Ads Links are paying very low, so I eliminated them.

  • This is very interesting. Can you have both an image ad and text ad on site? How many are allowed? I am not sure what image ads look like.


  • Thanks for the tips. But can anyone suggest me what kind of ads better for me? because im not living in the US now.

  • Hi, great article. Never tried reducing units to just one, but have had success reducing to two units.

    The “only” (normal circumstances, regular ads) ads that work well are the medium rectangle, header, and skyscraper, in that order. Putting a header under an equally-sized image/video/etc works well, as does the medium rectangle (or two next to each other) smack in the middle above the fold. I have even seen the medium rectangle put at the top left corner of the page, but never tried this personally. The skyscraper works better on the left than the right, as do link units.

  • Interesting perspective. It seems that user metrics of my site were always better when I only had a single adsense ad on the page, but I never thought about using image ads only.

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