AdSense for Mobile Woes

AdSense LogoI’ve been running AdMob’s ads on my mobile sites for a couple of years and have been very happy with both the revenue and AdMob’s service and support.  In the last six months though I’ve seen AdMob’s fill rate decline from nearly 100% to about 60% with a corresponding decrease in revenue.  I suspect the decline is due to the recession combined with the huge increase in the number of mobile sites and mobile web traffic that has occurred this year without a corresponding increase in advertisers.

To make up for the decline I’ve started using Google’s AdSense for Mobile as a backup.  I have code to check see if AdMob has returned an ad and if not to call AdSense. Up until Dec 21st this was working well with Google serving around 3500 ad impressions per day.  Users don’t seem to click on the AdSense ads as often as on AdMob’s and Google pays less per click than AdMob, but a little money is better than nothing.

On December 21st Google suddenly and completely stopped delivering mobile ads to my site.   The online AdSense daily reports show a cryptic  “no data to report”.  AdSense’s  monthly report shows data (impressions, clicks and revenue) through the 20th but nothing after.

I’ve verified that AdSense ads are in fact no longer appearing on the site, only AdMob ads.  If AdMob has no inventory, I should see an AdSense ad but I don’t.  When I temporarily removed  the call to AdMob to force all requests to go to AdSense I got no ads at all.

I haven’t changed the code or anything else on the site.  It looks like either something broke or AdSense  suspended my mobile site although they have not contacted me.  In fact, my account and mobile channel show as “Active” in the online reports and Adsense is still working on my non-mobile site and feeds.

Now I understand that things do break.  I had a similar problem with AdMob once.  It was quickly resolved after I sent an email to AdMob’s support address.  Adsense also has an address for email support, it’s [email protected].  I sent a request for help to that address and received a reply telling me to look at the online AdSense Help Center.  So I looked and of course there was nothing remotely helpful in resolving my issue.  So I emailed Google again prefacing my question by saying that I’d already checked the Help Center and did not find an answer to my problem.  I received the same automated reply telling me to check the Help Center.  It’s obvious that no human looks at requests sent to adsense-su[email protected].  I also tried the online help request form at which turned out to be equally useless.  All I got for my efforts was another automated response beginning with:

“Due to the high volumes of emails we receive, we’re unable to individually
respond to your inquiry. Please find instant, reliable answers to all your
questions in our online help resources.”

In short, there is no support for AdSense. If it works great, otherwise, too bad.

I think I know what might have caused Google to suspend my ads.  On December 21st, the day AdSense stopped on my site, I ran Sphider (, an open source site search engine, to reindex my mobile site, something I do every week.  I had just installed  a new Sphider release and had to rerun the indexing program four or five times to get everything configured and working correctly.  The timing suggests that running Sphider somehow caused Googe to suspend my mobile ads.

Sphider has to load every page of the site to index it, which would of course reload the ads. Sphider’s page requests would be coming from my domain which I imagine could have triggered Google’s  automated fraud detection code. Still, Sphider uses an easily identifiable user agent , ”Sphider” and you would think that Google’s ad bots would be smart enough to ignore indexing programs and not serve ads to them, let alone flag the traffic as abuse.

I’m pretty disappointed with Google.  Not for suspending the ads but for their total and utter failure to communicate. I look at a lot of mobile sites and most are using AdMob, not AdSense.  No wonder, not only does AdMob pay better but they actually respond to support requests.

If anyone has any ideas on how to get someone at Google to look at my AdSense for mobile problem, please leave a comment or use the Contact form.

10 thoughts on “AdSense for Mobile Woes

  1. Since Google bought admob, Do you think it is legal to run Google adsens for mobile and admob at the same time?

  2. Sorry to hear about AdMob suspending you. I don’t see anything about your site that warrants a suspension and suggest that you try contacting them and ask for reconsideration.

    As for the other ad networks you mention, I’ve only used InMobi. I’ve found them easy to work with; they pay on time and answer support requests promptly. But like all the networks they have no ads at times in some markets.

    I’ve implemented some simple back fill code on my sites. I request an ad from my best paying network, check to see if an ad was returned and if not, I call the second best. I’ve found that I can try up to four networks without too much degradation in page load time. You might also look at Smaato who claim to find the best paying ad from 30 different networks for each request.

  3. I too have being having advertising woes. Admob does pay the best but yeah their fill rate and cost per click eapecially during the middle of the month takes a turn for the worse. To make matters worse they recently suspended my account for policy violations. Mr Dennis has reviewed my site and i’m sure he can confirm all my content is legal and i abide by ad and api policies. Also i don’t click my own ads so i guess i’m being punished for someone elses liking to admob’s ads or for just being an indian. So my question is who do i switch to, currently use google but you only allowed one ad per page plus their ads don’t look attractive and take up alot of space. Buzzcity which i’ve switched to temporarily pays 5 times worse than admob and i’d have to give up site creation if switch to them. Also neither google or buzzcity have house ads to display something meaningful easily when their is no ad inventory. inmobi? mojiva? zestads? 3rd party company that merges ads?

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  6. Exactly the same experience on

    AdMob: traffic up, clickrates stable, fill rate falling, revenue disproportionately down since the summer.

    Switched to Google. First day? Over triple my AdMob revenue. Then there must have been some sort of moderation – it subsequently fell down to below AdMob levels.

    But this tipped it: I run a site in English, and when I used an Irish mobile on an Irish network, most of my Google ads were in Dutch.

    I asked Google to investigate: they claimed that indeed the advertiser had specified that they wanted to advertise on sites worldwide. (Don’t worry that it makes my site look stupid and none of my American users will click!)

    I’ve moved back to AdMob in, well, disappointment (if not surprise) and now working hard to boost traffic to make up for it.

    For all their mobile posturing and ad experience, I can’t help feeling that Google are struggling to get to grips with this.

  7. Good luck. I have tried to get help with an AdWords problem. In this case, I’m a paying customer.

    Five times I’ve received the same insulting template email. The last one was sent to me despite the fact I titled my support request “DO NOT SEND THE SAME TEMPLATE EMAIL” and included a screenshot of the same email that they had sent me four times previously.

    Google has the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced.

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