Online Advertising Answers: July 2021

Find out what you what to know about digital marketing in the July edition of Online Advertising Answers.

In this issue, I’m asked how to get more clicks on AdSense ads, what to do about people stealing your answers off Quora, and whether or not advertisers have to pay for every single ad impressions *no matter what*. Some great questions!

Let’s dig in.

[Have a question of your own? Ask me on Quora or email me at]


This month’s questions are:

[Click these links to skip down to the question]


Online Advertising Answers



Q: “How do you strategically place your Adsense ads to get more clicks?”


A: “Hi Aleksey,

The best place to put AdSense ads on your site to get clicks is Above the Fold. This means placing ads so that the majority of it can be seen when a webpage first loads.

(“The fold” is a term from newspaper advertising – ie where the newspaper was folded. For websites, the fold refers to the bottom of the screen before scrolling).


Above The Fold InfographicClick to enlarge


Ads placed above the fold are seen by many more people, and therefore have many more chances for clicks. Also – not all ads are paid for solely when they are clicked on, so by ensuring that more people see your ads, you are also ensuring more revenue from those ads whether they are clicked on or not.

The specific placement of ads depends on your site, but generally on the desktop version of your site you want one at the very top of the page, one within the content, and one in the sidebar.

For mobile, you can place ads within the content (beginning, middle, and end), but again, ads above the fold will outperform the others by quite a long way.


What ad sizes should you choose?

In terms of optimising your AdSense setup, you want to make sure you choose ad sizes that don’t drive people away. This usually means sticking to 3 ads per page at most and trying to make ads fit in with your site design.

The best ad size, in general, is a 300×250 (also known as an MPU or Med Rec). This ad size works well on both desktop and mobile, and so should definitely be included. If you have extra space, you can try a 336×280 instead of a 300×250, as AdSense will show a 300×250 inside the ad space if it can’t deliver a 336×280 meaning you get the best of both.

For the top of the page, you want a horizontal unit. The best performing on desktop is a 728×90, and the best on mobile is the 320×50. For desktop, you can experiment with larger ad sizes if they make sense on your site (either the 970×250 or 970×90) and on mobile the 320×100 might be worth a look.

For your sidebar, a 300×600 ad unit is probably best, although a 160×600 is also ok if you don’t have that much space.

If you want to find out more about ad sizes, you can read about them all on this ad size guide.


Will having more ads on your site mean more clicks?

No. Most people don’t click on online ads at all, and those who do will generally only click on one ad per page maximum. Adding more ads means giving people more chances not to click, which will drive your CTR down, meaning AdSense will show worse ads on your site.

On top of that, having too many ads will drive people away from your site, and the more people who come to your site, the more clicks you will get overall. Always focus on getting more users, and your ad revenue will grow alongside that.

I hope this helps,



[This originally appeared on Quora]




Q: “Sites have been stealing my Quora answers and using them to make ad money. How do I report them?”


A: “Hi Steve,

Other Quora users are allowed to reproduce your content elsewhere as long as they attribute it back to Quora. Have they done that? If not, maybe Quora will help you out with getting it taken down.

You can read Quora’s terms of service here:

The two most relevant sections are this bit in the intro:

You can repost content from Quora elsewhere, provided that you attribute the content back to the Quora platform and respect the rights of the original poster, including any “not for reproduction” designation, and do not use automated tools.

and part 3Ci (emphasis mine):

By submitting, posting, or displaying Your Content on the Quora Platform, you grant Quora and its affiliated companies a nonexclusive, worldwide, royalty free, fully paid up, transferable, sublicensable (through multiple tiers), license to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, create derivative works from, publish, transmit, store, display and distribute, translate, communicate and make available to the public, and otherwise use Your Content in connection with the operation or use of the Quora Platform or the promotion, advertising or marketing of the Quora Platform or our business partners, in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed), including via means of automated distribution, such as through an application programming interface (also known as an “API”). You agree that this license includes the right for Quora to make Your Content available to other companies, organizations, business partners, or individuals who collaborate with Quora for the syndication, broadcast, communication and making available to the public, distribution or publication of Your Content on the Quora Platform or through other media or distribution methods. This license also includes the right for other users of the Quora Platform to use, copy, reproduce, adapt, modify, create derivative works from, publish, transmit, display, and distribute, translate, communicate and make available to the public Your Content, subject to our Terms of Service. Except as expressly provided in these Terms of Service, this license will not confer the right for you to use automated technology to copy or post questions and answers or to aggregate questions and answers for the purpose of making derivative works. If you do not wish to allow your answers to be translated by other users, you can globally opt out of translation in your profile settings or you can designate certain answers not for translation.


In general, I would recommend requesting attribution rather than them taking it down. If they link back to your Quora post, then they aren’t breaking any rules so you won’t have any way to complain about them using your content.

So why not tell them who you are and ask for your answer to be attributed to you? It wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask for a link to your site to go with the answer too(presuming you have one)? That way everyone wins – they get good content for their site (which you can’t stop anyway) and you get some link equity.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar as they say.

[This answer originally appeared on Quora]





Q: “Dear Sirs,

I was wondering if advertisers pay websites showing their ads for every single ad impression no matter what.

For example, if 30 people go on a website and see an ad without interacting with it or watching it (if it’s a video) does the advertiser still pay? Or does it only count if the user interacts with the ad? And what kind of other engagements are there besides clicking it?

I have recently been on two websites and one ad didn’t load properly and all I saw was a white flash before it crashed. Another I couldn’t even scroll down to see. Will the website still get paid as the ads were on my page?




A: “Hi Raffay,

There are multiple ways for advertisers to pay for advertising. Some are simply paying for impressions (although this is rarer than it used to be), while most are paying for some sort of interaction with an ad. This could be clicks, downloads, video plays, form completions, or even sales made on the website after clicking. For a description of the various types of ad pricing that sites use, take a look at our Ad Pricing Guide.

It’s a bit more complicated than that though. Even if an advertiser only pays when a sale is made, a website could still be paid even if no one clicks on an ad on their site. This is because there is something called a post-impression conversion. This means that a sale is attributed to an ad impression (even though it wasn’t clicked). Think of it this way – you go to a site and see an ad for shoes but you don’t need shoes so you don’t click. Two days later you get a hole in the sole of your shoes and suddenly you remember that ad so you go to the website and buy shoes. In this case, that ad would have caused the sale even though you never clicked it. Things similar to this happen all the time, and so advertisers do pay websites for ads that cause sales (by using cookies to track them), even if the ad was never clicked on.

In terms of how websites get paid – most of the time they don’t really know whether it was for clicks, impressions, or sales etc. This is because most websites use ad networks. Ad networks are companies that sell advertising on behalf of many websites (Google AdSense is the most famous of these). This is convenient for websites (as selling ad space is difficult), but it also means that the ad network gets commission for each ad they sell. In many cases, the ad network will not tell the website which ads they have sold, or what pricing model they have used (as they will use all the pricing models). Instead, they just bundle up all the money and tell the website how much money they have made in total, and per 1,000 page views. This metric on how much 1,000 page views earns is called the Page RPM, and it is useful to compare different websites and different ad networks.

I know that the ad network not telling the site about which ads were sold sounds like some sort of scam, but honestly, it works better than having too much transparency. A huge advantage of using an ad network is that they take care of the admin, so there is no real need for the website to know. And of course, if an ad network doesn’t pay a high enough page RPM then the website can always move onto another one.

For the specific examples you mentioned, it again depends…


The Broken Ad

The ad which didn’t load most likely won’t payout. Advertisers have ways of checking if ads actually work, and so if they are broken then they don’t pay the ad network. There are many reasons why this might happen as there are so many combinations of computers, operating systems, browsers etc that problems are bound to occur. The ad network in turn won’t pay the website – but as I said above the website won’t know this directly as all the advertising revenue is bundled up. If this broken ad is a big problem then it could affect the website’s revenue and then they’ll notice. But it’s much more likely that a broken ad will be a bigger problem for the ad network, and so they’ll fix it before the website notices.

Advertisers book multiple sites through an ad network remember. So if the ad was broken on that site (and not just for you), then it was probably broken on many websites. Ad networks are getting paid commission by each of these sites, so a broken ad will cost an individual website a tiny amount, but the ad network a large amount. Therefore the ad network will likely notice the ad is broken and deal with it long before the loss of revenue from an ad is a problem for the website.
As I said, there are many reasons for ads to not work properly. In fact, this is such a common problem that there is a metric to monitor it called ‘fill rate‘ – it is the % of impressions that are served out of all the possible impressions. Google AdSense has about a 95% fill rate (and it’s one of the highest) meaning that it only shows an ad successfully 95% of the time.


The Ad You Didn’t See

The ad which you didn’t scroll down to see might payout, but probably not. If you didn’t scroll down to see it, then you won’t have clicked on it or interacted in any way. If someone bought that ad on a CPM basis then perhaps it will still be paid for. You have to remember that CPM stands for Cost Per Thousand though, so the amount paid for that specific ad will only be a fraction of a penny.

Similarly, as I mentioned above if someone is buying that ad on a CPA basis, it is possible that the website will get paid for it if you coincidentally make a purchase from whoever the ad was for within 7 days. While that is unlikely if the ad was for a small business, if the ad was for a giant like Amazon then it is possible that this sort of coincidence would happen and the website would get paid (I’m pretty sure Amazon don’t do this sort of advertising though). In the early days of online advertising, placing ads at the bottom of pages for just this reason was commonplace.

Not so much anymore though. There was a study a while ago which worked out that only about 50% of online ads are ever seen by anyone, and when advertisers found out they were not happy. There have been a few big pushes to fix this problem since then. Firstly, the invention of ‘Viewed Impressions’. This means that impressions are only counted (and paid for) when an ad appears at least 50% on-screen for at least one second (specific definitions vary, but they all say roughly this). Secondly, many sites do not load ads until they are just about to appear on-screen. They do this by only loading once you have scrolled to just above the place the ad is – and this means far fewer impressions off-screen are counted.

On top of this, tracking across sites like this is mostly being phased out. Many browsers will no longer accept third-party cookies (which is how these post-impression conversions were tracked). So all in all, the likelihood is that ads that do not appear on-screen do not earn anyone any money.
I hope this helps.


[Question via Email]



See you next month,