Do you have a problem with Google Adsense showing PSAs?

AdSense Optimization Boot Camp Tip #6 

Ah, the good old Bush Clinton Katrina Fund, the AdSense PSA (Public Service Ad/Announcement) that has dominated since hurricane Katrina hit.  But what most people don’t realize is that many websites have PSA issues, even if a publisher never happens to spy one showing up anywhere on one of their sites.  But it is a reality for many, whether the product of an inadvertant stop word filter issue or a forum member posting inappropriate content on a forum. 

So you may think that you never have PSA issues, but the reality is that you probably do, and everytime you show a PSA you will not get paid for any clicks on it.  It could come from people viewing your site in cache, or even someone in a country with a small amount of ads targeted to your market space. 

First, not sure if it is a problem?  Track it.  It is as simple as installing the collapse ad script from AdSense or implementing your own alternative ad in the space… even an ad for something on your own website.  Run it for a week and then run a report for your logs to see how many times that javascript was executed or the alternate ad pulled.  This will tell you just how many times someone did not have ads available to them when they visited a webpage.

Next, you want to go and see the frequency of the pages that were showing PSAs.  Was it a single page that had 90% of the PSAs?  If so, you want to tag that page to look and to see if you can discover why it is showing PSAs.  You will then also want to geotarget the IPs that ended up with your alternative ad, to see if you can isolate the problem to a specific country, region or continent… perhaps it is only people in Africa or Australia that see PSAs while those in North America always see targeted ads.

If you need help setting up PSAs, this page tells you how to implement the collapsing ad units and here is information on setting up the alternate ads.  If you want to set up your alternate ads to support the Red Cross, click here (you can track the number of times the ad is pulled with this one too).

In an upcoming Optimization Tip, I am going to be talking about the most common problems that cause PSAs, so you can solve any you have, after you test to see if you do have a problem with Google showing PSAs on your site.  So if you start testing now, you will be ready to figure out how to solve PSA issues.

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11 comments to Do you have a problem with Google Adsense showing PSAs?

  • Charlie Russell

    I’m just starting with your blog, what the heck is a “PSA”?

  • Charlie Russell, as far as I know, those are Public Service Ads and you don’t get paid when someone clicks on them. Reasons why Google Adsense sometimes shows them are explained in the article.

  • Yes, they are Public Service Ads / Announcements. I just clarified it in my post as well, thanks for pointing it out 🙂

  • Hi. I’m a new subscriber to your blog – trying to learn about AdSense as quickly as I can. I think you left out the link in the second last paragraph. The one pointing to “how to implement both the collapsing ad units and the alternate ads”.

  • Thanks Anne, that is correct, the link must have melted down somewhere between the time I wrote it and published it! I also added the correct link for implementing alternate ads.

  • I think PSAs will display when there are no relevant ads for your posts but you can use alternate ads to replace these ads. Google sometimes is doing non-profit activities and even ads are available, PSAs still show on curtain %, use Oxado for PSA

  • Hi,

    Do you know any decent ad services, which could be run in the place of PSAs. Am using referral links to topsites/traffic exchanges currently on my sites. But there might be other better solutions….

    Could we place Google Adsense Referral ads inside the alternative ad url?? 😉

  • We had a few public service ads when our website just opened. But after a couple of days they disappeared once those google spiders figured out what was really all about. It scared me a ton though.

  • Jen, do you know of a way of testing that the alternate ads are working properly? eg. How can I test that I have everything right?

    Thanks, N.

  • @shanX: Google Adsense Referral ads are being discontinued next month (September 2008).

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