Adsense: Fixing “blank spaces”

This is a small guide on how to avoid “blank spaces” when using the Adsense advertising network.

In the past, I’ve come across Adsense publishers fretting over the fact that certain advertisements were not displaying on their websites.  In most cases, “random” blank spots were appearing, much to the concern of the webmaster. Fortunately, by better understanding how Google actually deliver their Adsense units, you can one, avoid some of the common pitfalls and two, alleviate any misplaced concerns.

Firstly, you need to understand that it will take some time before a newly-created unit begins to appear.  While testing your website, you should open up the network tab on your browser’s developer tools, as this will allow you to spot any unsuccessful HTTP requests. If your console is
logging unsuccessful requests to a Google-related domain, then there’s a good chance that the ad hasn’t “become live” yet.

If these failed requests are happening with units that have existed for a lengthy period of time, then there is a chance that your account has been suspended or that your domain has been blacklisted (or the page in question has been blacklisted). Although, it is important to note that in such a scenario, you will probably receive an email from Adsense. PS: Be sure to read up on the Adsense TOS if you think that your account has been suspended, as their program policies can offer some useful insights in this regard.

How Adsense Chooses Advertisements

Understanding the process behind advertisement selection can help you diagnose any potential issues.

Contextual Placement: In this case, Adsense will display ad units that are related to the content on the page. For example, if the content is about “Car Insurance”, then there is a chance that insurance-related advertisements will be displayed. However, if your content is thin / sparse, then there is a chance that Adsense will be unable to find a suitable ad unit.

Language Targeting: Many advertisers will target specific languages. i.e. Somebody that is promoting advertisements that are written in English will probably target English speakers. This means that pages with content written in “lesser-used” languages may end up with a smaller pool of advertisements to draw from.

Interest-based: As a user searches for certain topics and browses through Adsense-enabled websites, Google will build up a “profile” on their interests. This allows them to display advertisements that are closely related to the content that the user has recently been looking at. i.e. If you spent the day searching for legal material, then there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to be shown ad units that are related to lawyers and solicitors, etc. This can “fool” a lot of publishers into thinking that their website is not displaying any units in a specific browser. i.e. They open their website in a browser that they don’t normally use, only to discover a number of blank spaces. Although most webmasters are quick to conclude that it is a problem with the browser; the reality is that they have not used the browser enough to give Google a drill-down of their interests. I’ve also noticed this in cases where I’ve recently cleared my browser’s history and cache.

Hopefully, this helped to clear up a number of issues!