Google launches AdSense User First beta to test if fewer ads & better targeting can make more money for publishers

A small number of AdSense and AdMob publishers started receiving invitations to Google Adsense’s User First beta program this week.

The goal at this stage is to test new ways for publishers to make more revenue with fewer, hopefully more effective, ads and reward publishers who prioritize the user experience The program is meant to reward publishers that provide a good user experience — measured by site speed, ad layouts that generate high quality-clicks and low rates of users muting ads on the site — with priority access to new features. From the program page:

You were invited to this beta program because you offer your visitors a good web experience, e.g., your pages are fast-loading or your users are happy with the ad layout on your site. With this beta, by meeting certain requirements, you’ll get early access to new features designed to help boost your revenue and provide your visitors with better ad experiences.

Initial experiments

The feature testing will revolve around the goal of helping AdSense and AdMob publishers generate more revenue from fewer ads.

Targeting

The experiments will aim to go beyond the ad relevancy and personalization already aimed at signed-in users on the Google Display Network: “Your visitors who are signed into Google will see ads that they’ll want to engage with more.”

Ad load optimization 

Google hopes to find the optimal formula for showing fewer, more targeted ads while driving more revenue: “User First will start optimizing your ad load to create an even better experience for your visitors.”

To be eligible for the program, publishers must run only AdSense ads on their sites: “In addition, in order to adequately optimize the ad load on your site, we’re only able to provide the benefits on sites that serve only AdSense ads.” 

That means publishers won’t be able to plug into any other ad network or exchange to fulfill inventory while part of the beta program. The network exclusivity gives Google control to adjust ad load with this test group to better understand the impact on the user experience and publisher revenue.

As the beta develops, participants will get early access to additional features and new ad formats.

Publishers in the program will get access to a scorecard on the AdSense home page showing how they stack up against the qualifying criteria. They can opt out of the beta at any time.

This program is separate but of a theme with the Better Ad Standards the company announced it would uphold earlier this year. As part of that effort, Google will stop showing ads in Chrome that don’t comply with the Coalition for Better Ads standards, starting in early 2018.