Ad serving limits are a common problem among AdSense publishers. Invalid traffic has been a major theme for Google over the past two years and there has been increased enforcement action, with the aim of protecting the digital advertising ecosystem from fraud and poor advertising experiences. .Seeing a warning that ad serving has been throttled in your AdSense account is a hassle and can be costly for a publisher. With this guide, we’ll help you understand what to do if AdSense ad serving has been throttled and how to prevent it from happening again.
Below, we’ll cover various warnings that may appear in your account, including:
- “The number of ads you can run has been limited”
- “Ad serving is limited. The number of ads you can run has been limited”
- “Ad serving limit placed on your AdSense account”
- “Ad serving is currently limited. Review the details of the problem and see the recommendations on what you can do next.
- “Temporary ad serving limit placed on your AdSense account”
While this article isn’t specifically about similar posts in AdMob accounts, the principles are the same, so this article will still be relevant for AdMob users.
What are the ad serving limits?
Ad serving limits are applied at the account level that limit the number of ads your AdSense account can serve. Limited ad serving has a direct impact on publisher revenue because fewer ads are served to users, which means fewer clicks and less revenue.
Enforcement measures are usually temporary, lasting around 30 days, but may take longer in certain circumstances. There are generally two reasons why Google may place ad serving limits on an AdSense account, and the one that applies to you will be displayed under “Issues” next to the account status notice:
Account under evaluation: Google monitors your traffic profile to assess the quality of your website traffic and detect invalid activity.
Invalid traffic issues: Google has detected invalid traffic issues that can artificially inflate publisher revenue and advertiser costs.
Both problems are closely related to the fact that “invalid traffic problems” are the more serious of the two. Either way, a large portion of AdSense/AdMob impressions will remain unfulfilled by Google, which can have a very serious impact on revenue.
Why does Google limit ad serving?
Ad serving limits are used by Google to limit the impact of invalid traffic while they investigate a potential issue. Similar to the dreaded click confirmation behavior, it’s a tactic that allows them to protect advertisers from a potential problem while determining if there really is a problem to worry about. Although ad serving is limited, AdSense tags will still be called, allowing Google to analyze each request.
It seems to be an automated process in most cases.
Limiting ad serving is just one of the tools Google uses to combat invalid traffic on its network. Invalid traffic (or IVT) is a catch-all term for traffic in the ad ecosystem that does not result from genuine human interest. It includes bots, accidental clicks, fraud, and incentivized traffic. Advertisers derive no value from this traffic.
Ad serving limits are actually a good thing
Ad serving limits are a tough pill, but they at least provide a way for Google to maintain quality traffic (and retain buyer confidence) without permanently terminating accounts. If you’re currently seeing a drastic reduction in revenue due to ad serving limits, you can at least have some slight reassurance that if you’re doing nothing wrong, it should be temporary and fixable.
Can social media promotion result in limited ad serving?
After talking to many publishers affected by ad serving limits. There are certainly times when promotion traffic spikes on social media trigger ad serving limits, but the cause more often seems to be the message than the media. Social media can be a powerful way to drive traffic to your website. There’s nothing wrong with doing this, but there are some AdSense policies that can be easy to break on social media if you’re not careful.
AdSense’s incitable traffic policy is a policy that frequently causes problems with social media promotions. Calls to action such as “Click for a chance to win” or “Visit my website for a discount” can be very effective in driving traffic, but would definitely count as nudge clicks. I believe Google reviews the calls to action used when they detect spikes in non-organic traffic. Publishers seeing AdSense serving limits after recent social media traffic spikes are advised to take a close look at the posts that caused these traffic spikes and make sure there is nothing which looks like incentivized traffic before these posts are reviewed.
Does limited ad serving affect Ad Exchange as well as AdSense?
At the time of writing, we are only aware of limited ad serving in this way with AdSense, not Google’s premium monetization solution, Ad Exchange. The system may simply not have been added to Ad Exchange yet, but it’s just as likely that it will never be seen on Ad Exchange accounts. There are many more AdSense accounts than accounts on Google Ad Exchange. This means that AdSense tends to use more automated systems and machine learning so that they are able to provide the scale support that AdSense needs. Publishers with an Ad Exchange account are more likely to get a call from their Google representative about traffic quality issues,
What to do if your AdSense ad serving is throttled
Once they reach the limited ad serving, most publishers simply wait for the limit to be lifted. The vast majority of cases seem to resolve on their own within 2-4 weeks without any further action being taken by the publisher. This can be a costly wait and Google is unlikely to resume full service until they are satisfied there are no issues, so we advise you to be proactive and take action. to try to minimize this delay, to ensure a good outcome and to reduce the likelihood that limits will be imposed in the future.
Steps to follow :
- Check your account for clues: What does the ad restriction warning say? Look carefully at the exact wording used – there are various notices that may appear and these provide clues as to the cause for concern. Check out the AdSense Policy Center while you’re there. Invalid activity includes ads served outside of policy. Are there any issues that appeared before that could now be triggering the issue? The adsSense Resolution Center can include many clues about issues Google is having with serving your ads. Go through the reported points and work to correct them accordingly.
- Consider recent changes to your site : Have any ad groups moved? Are there any layout changes that might have introduced issues?
- Check your traffic sources: Are you sure you don’t have significant traffic that doesn’t come from humans with a real interest in your content? If not, disable or block any potentially problematic sources. Pay special attention to any traffic sources that increased in volume before the warning appeared.
- Check ad placements : Accidental clicks are a common source of invalid traffic. Make sure you have enough space between ads and other clickable elements on all common device types. Check that the navigation doesn’t cover ads and that placements won’t encourage clicks (like lining up with images or near ‘next’ buttons). Determine if the way you insert ads may be causing problematic placements (this includes “automatic ads” as well as ad insertion plugins). If in doubt, add space.
- Check ads and CTATE : If your traffic comes from sources other than organic search, objectively examine whether there is anything in that traffic that could potentially be of interest to advertisers. Again, the criteria should be “humans with a genuine interest in your content”.
Do I need to delete all my ad groups and recreate them?
There are plenty of tips online for publishers to remove all their AdSense ad groups from the account, remove the code from the website, and wait a few weeks before recreating the units. Some even suggest removing advertisements.txt entries and disallowing domains. The theory is that this will cause the issue to be investigated more quickly.
It is difficult to endorse this advice with confidence. Issue elimination times for publishers who have taken this approach don’t seem much different than those who just waited. There is also a risk that by removing the AdSense code, you remove Google’s ability to analyze traffic and determine that all is well. New ad groups also tend to underperform new established groups after an “initial nudge to new groups,” which could have longer-term repercussions.
Until we see more compelling evidence for the “delete and wait” approach, my advice would be to find the issues first. If you are able to find and fix issues that you believe may have contributed to the problem, leave your code and ads.txt in place so Google can see these improvements.
Someone offered to fix the problem. Should I let them?
We are increasingly aware that publishers who openly discuss the option are being approached by people or parties claiming they can fix it for them. These people usually promise quick results without convincing explanations of how they are going to fix the problem. As part of the process, they will typically request access to sensitive systems such as the publisher’s AdSense account, Ad Manager, Search Console, and/or website login or payment in advance.
We always urge extreme caution when sharing such access. Many scams that target publishers start with the same demands. Our advice would be not to share such access with people and companies with whom you do not yet have an established relationship, unless they have been approved under the Google Certified Publisher Program (GCPP) .
How can publishers prevent ad serving from being throttled?
As publishers, it is our responsibility to ensure the quality of the traffic we send to our advertising partners. This not only keeps our accounts in good standing, but also ensures strong deals and good long-term earnings. In practice, this can be difficult. Publishers don’t have the same visibility into traffic quality as partners like Google. There are, however, steps we can take to prevent traffic quality issues:
The vast majority of publishers don’t seek to mislead t advertisers, and those who are will be unlikely to read this guide. However, it can sometimes be difficult to make changes that impact costs in the short term. Publishers often spot an ad group with a surprisingly high CTR, for example, and delay implementing a fix that costs them money. This inaction can be costly if advertisers begin to lower bids, ad serving is throttled, or in the worst case, accounts are suspended.
Being mindful of providing ad inventory that delivers value to publishers is a good way to promote long-term success. After all, the highest-paying publishers didn’t get there by tricking their users into accidentally clicking on ads.
Look for strange patterns
Most AdSense publishers know the CTR of their top ad groups, but when was the last time you looked at a group’s relative click-through rate by Geo? Or browser, or time of day? TVI isn’t always indicated by a high CTR, but unusual CTR patterns can definitely be an indicator of a problem.
Periodically checking these patterns can be a helpful way to identify problems early and focus on problems before they arise. However, the same techniques can be crucial if you’re trying to fix a limited ad serving issue.
The good news is that you already have the tools to do it. AdSense reports offer incredible granularity and allow publishers to slice data in all sorts of interesting ways.
If your Google Analytics account is linked to AdSense, you have even more options. Analyzing performance by device or traffic source can yield some interesting results. Be warned though – if someone deliberately targets your website with invalid traffic, they can block the Analytics script from running.
Block bad traffic
If you identify bad traffic patterns, the best course of action is to not serve ads to that traffic. If you use an ad server, like Google Ad Manager, this can be done by adjusting your traffic. If you use “on-page tags” (which most AdSense publishers do), you can wrap these tags in additional server logic to ensure that the page is served, but without ads, to suspicious segments of your hearing. A simpler approach is often to block this traffic completely, either by adding access rules to your htaccess file or by using a firewall.
Consider a service like Cloudflare if you don’t use it, and reconfigure it if you do
Many publishers are already using Cloudflare in its primary CDN/Optimization service role that speeds up their website for their users. Cloudflare is great for this, but it can also be a big help in the fight against invalid traffic.
Firewall Rules : As of this writing, Firewall Rules is only available in Cloudflare’s Pro tier, but these features easily justify the $20/month subscription cost to them. alone. Using firewall rules, you can easily set up rules to block or challenge traffic that matches your suspicious segments.
Bot Battle Mode : A lesser-known, but excellent option is Cloudflare’s Bot Battle Mode. This is a largely inconvenient setting that is available even for Cloudflare’s free tier domains. Once enabled, Cloudflare will automatically look for signs of bot behavior and intercept that traffic. We’ve seen good results with this with information-rich sites that are often the target of “invalid traffic” like scrapers.
Watch your ad spacing
One of the most common causes of accidental clicks is poor spacing between ad groups and active elements, such as navigation and buttons. This is especially a problem on mobile, where the accuracy of a finger is so much lower than a mouse pointer. Accidental clicks result in publishers paying for low-quality traffic as advertisers bid again. Common examples of this are navigation that spans ads and ad groups near buttons and navigation.
Don’t allow ads to be confused with content
Another common cause of accidental clicks is when ads are formatted to look like content. If users click on an ad that they believe is content, they are very likely to click back or close when they land on an unexpected site. This will be a clear sign of an unintentional click on Google. This is another situation where publishers are sometimes reluctant to implement changes that reduce their revenue in the short term, but such issues can cause serious account issues.
Be careful when buying traffic
There’s a lot of confusion around AdSense and AdX and paid traffic, but it’s really quite simple: there’s nothing wrong with buying traffic for your site, but that traffic has to be genuine.
Authentic traffic doesn’t just mean human users. These users must be visiting your site with real intent. Cheaper traffic often comes from users who are tricked into visiting (pop-unders, toolbars, redirects, etc.) or tricked into visiting (paid-to-browse programs, etc.), both can be from huge problems.
Other things to be wary of are companies that are effectively traffic dealers, buying their traffic from one site and selling it to another. Because there is a strong incentive for the original source to send low quality traffic, it will go through the system and eventually impact your account. Content recommendation services may be subject to this. Even the well-known ones because they manage large networks and do not have a great incentive to boost traffic quality.
Traffic purchased directly from top-tier sources such as Google Ads, Facebook, and well-known content sites is generally safe, but it may be a good idea to introduce additional traffic quality systems if buying from other sources .