How You Can Do AdSense Ad Serving Has Been Limited?

Update Rana Gohil

How You Can Do AdSense 

Ad Serving Has Been Limited?

 Hi Friends,

You can see Ad serving limits have been a common pain point amongst AdSense publishers in recent months. Invalid traffic has been a major theme for Google throughout 2020 and there has been a rise in enforcement action in an attempt to protect the digital advertising ecosystem from fraud and bad ad experiences. Seeing the warning that ad serving has been limited in your AdSense account is a worry and can be expensive. 


Through this guide, we’ll help you understand what to do if your AdSense ad serving has been limited and also how to prevent this from happening in the first place. Had enough of dealing with issues like this? Being a publisher has got more complex. It is no surprise that more and more publishers want to focus on content and traffic and let someone else deal with problems like GDPR, Policy, Yield Management and Optimisation. 

If you like the sound of going to back to growing your business and leaving ad headaches to the specialists. Click here to find our more about how OKO can help.

⏩ What are ad serving limits?

Ad serving limits are account-level enforcements that restrict the number of ads that your AdSense account can show. 

Limited ad serving impacts publishers’ earnings directly because fewer ads are shown to users which means fewer clicks and less revenue. Enforcement action is usually temporary lasting around 30 days but this can take longer in certain circumstances. 

There are usually two reasons why Google might place ad serving limits on an AdSense account, and the one that applies to you will be shown under “issues” alongside the account status notice:

Account being assessed: 

👉 Google is monitoring your traffic profile in order to assess the quality of your website traffic and detect any invalid activity.

👉 Invalid traffic concerns: Google has detected invalid traffic concerns that may be artificially inflating publishers’ earnings and advertisers’ costs.

👉 The two issues are closely related with “Invalid Traffic concerns” being the more severe of the two. 

👉 Both will result in a large proportion of AdSense / Ad Mob impressions being unfilled by Google, which can have a very severe impact on revenue.

Why does Google limit ad serving?

Ad Serving limits are used by Google to limit the impact of invalid traffic whilst they “investigate” a potential issue with some inventory. Similar to the dreaded Click-confirmation behaviour (AKA the two-click penalty), it is a tactic that allows them to protect advertisers from an issue whilst determining whether there really is an issue to be concerned about. 

Whilst ad serving is limited, the AdSense tags will still be called, allowing Google to analyse every request. Fewer of those requests will result in filled impressions (ads on page), which means much lower revenue. This seems to be an automated process. This “investigation” isn’t Google manually looking at your account performance, but simply your traffic getting greater attention from Google’s automated systems. Limiting ad serving is just one of the tools that 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, click-fraud, and incentivized traffic. 

Advertisers get no value from this traffic and reduce spend where it appears, so reducing IVT is in everyone’s long-term interest – even if the methods used can be very painful in the short term. You can learn more about identifying and preventing Invalid Traffic and Invalid Activity here.

Does limited ad serving affect 

AdSense and Ad Exchange?

At time of writing, we are only aware of ad serving being limited in this way with AdSense, not with Google’s premium monetisation solution Ad Exchange. This might be that the system has simply not been added to Ad Exchange yet, but it is equally likely that it will never be seen on Ad Exchange accounts. 

There are many more AdSense accounts than there are accounts on the Google Ad Exchange. This means that AdSense tends to utilise more automated and machine learning systems so that they are able to provide support at the scale AdSense requires. Publishers with an Ad Exchange account are more likely to receive a call from their Google rep if there are traffic quality concerns, whereas AdSense relies more on automated processes for quality control.

What to do if your AdSense 

ads serving is limited

Once hit with limited ad serving, most publishers just wait for the limit to be lifted. Whatever a publisher does, they are going to have their ad serving limited until Google is satisfied that it has analysed enough data and is confident that there is not a problem. 

Frustratingly, this means that removing AdSense (to serve alternative ads for example) could mean the limit being in place longer whilst Google collects data.  For this reason, we don’t recommend removing the AdSense tags. What publishers can do is maximise their chances of the testing being done resulting in a clean bill of health for their account. 

Whilst it can be difficult to diagnose issues when you can’t see ads being served, you can still go through your site and account addressing issues that could lead to invalid traffic:

Check your traffic sources: 

➥ Are you confident that you do not have significant traffic that is not from humans with a genuine interest in your content? If not, then turn off of block any potentially problematic sources

Check ad placements: 

Accidental clicks are a common source of invalid traffic. That that you have sufficient space between ads and other clickable elements on all common device types. Check that navigation doesn’t cover ads and that the placements aren’t going to encourage clicks (such as lining up with images or near next buttons). Consider whether the way you insert ads might be causing problem placements (this includes “Auto-ads” as well as ad insertion plugins). When in doubt, ad space.

Check policy center: 

Many publishers don’t realise that invalid traffic can include ads served outside of what policy allows. AdSense policy centre can include plenty of clues to where Google has an issue with your ad serving. Work through the points flagged and fix them.





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