Wednesday, March 15, 2017

AdSense is Retiring their Official Wordpress Plugin

For publishers hosting their sites on sites, this recent information will be of interest to them, particularly if any of you are using the official AdSense Wordpress Plugin. They'll be saying good-bye to plugin pretty soon.

Key dates
  • Early March, 2017: New publishers will not be able to sign up for AdSense by using the plugin.
  • Early April, 2017: Existing publishers will not be able to change their ad settings or ad units through the plugin.
  • Early May, 2017: Google will no longer provide support for the plugin.
AdSense Help Center Article 

Early March has already come and gone, so any new publishers trying to sign up for AdSense through the plugin probably won't be able to, and since it will no longer be much use to publishers after the beginning of May, it doesn't make much sense to install it now. If you've tried to apply through the plugin and get an error notice, you'll probably need to re-apply at the Adsense homepage; if you applied in March through plugin and don't receive any notices from AdSense in about 4 weeks or so, I'd suggest you will probably need to reapply as well.

For those who have been using the plugin successfully, if you haven't already, then you'll likely be receiving an email in the very near future from AdSense with instructions on what to do. I'm guessing there will be publishers who aren't sure at all what to do and may not do anything right away. The help center article has covered this a little:

What Will Happen if I do Nothing?
There will be no change to your ad settings as they're stored in your WordPress site. Your existing ads and layouts will be unaffected and ads will continue to serve. However, you won't be able to edit the position of your ads. We recommend that you switch to using QuickStart or ad units, so you can make changes to your ads going forward.
What that means is that your ads will still show on your website, and you'll still earn from those ads. But that's the extent of it. There will be no flexibility in allowing you to change any ad placements through the plugin, or remove any ad placements, or edit anything at all about those ad placements ... and you may not be able to remove them in a hurry if you needed to. They don't really cover that, and for some publishers that may be a pretty big concern. And I have no idea if the deleting of ads will work either.

If you have a large site with hundreds (or more) pages, and you can't remove those ad codes with the plugin that would mean you'd have to manually pages to remove the ad codes. Whether this turns out to be the actual case, I don't know but if I were using this plugin (I'm not, I've used a different one for a long time now) on my site, I'd want to remove it before it loses it's functionality. The help center article explains how to do that, so make sure you start taking steps before the time frame gets "down-to-the-wire".

People may think they wouldn't ever need to remove their ads, but there are many cases where some publishers will want to - for example if you decided to sell your website to another individual, or transfer ownership of it, you would want to remove all of your own ad codes first. If the plugin still works to remove codes (and that's "up-in-the-air" since I don't know) then it's an easy job. If it doesn't, it could take a long time to remove all the ad codes from every page and sidebar/header/footer of your website. Overall, that could be pretty frustrating.

I will qualify this by saying that I don't know how it places the codes - whether directly into a php (in which case deleting it could be simple) or into individual posts. Either way, for some publishers editing manually is a frightening experience if they don't know how.

AdSense is recommending their QuickStart ads or standard ad units, and have given no recommendation for other plugins to use. AdSense generally can't support other plugins created outside of AdSense but that doesn't mean others won't work, it just means AdSense has no control over what those other plugins do or whether those other plugins might put ads where ads shouldn't be put.

In the end it is up to the publisher to understand the ad placement policies and choose a plugin that allows the publisher to have control over the ad placements. If you haven't taken time to really understand the ad placement policies, you will need to.

Publishers have always been responsible for the ad placements on their sites, but there are publishers who just allowed the plugin to choose the best spots which (to be perfectly honest) sometimes violate policies too, depending on the contents the publisher has.

When I tried the plugin, it placed ads so that they overlaid some of my images, which violated policy, and my choices were limited with that plugin - either I edited all the pages on my site where it messed up my images, or I stopped using that plugin. I stopped using that plugin because I already had my pages laid out the way I wanted them.

The point isn't that the plugin was bad, but that the plugin can cause policy violations in ad placements too if you don't check every page on your site after installing it. Not just the official plugin - any ad plugin. It's up to you as a publisher to make sure whatever you use (even QuickStart ads) doesn't create problems for your site design and layout, and if it does then you need to fix it.

posted by J. Gracey Stinson

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