Google finds way to short change Adsense users with expandable ads

Google has announced the launch of expandable ads within the Adwords/ Adsense ad system.

The new ad unit offers an expanded ad presence, this is, an ad that expands beyond its initial borders as an overlay across a page. Google has gone for a softer version with these ads, setting them up so they only expand when clicked on, and not via a mouseover as is a typical on other ad networks, or in extreme cases auto expansion on page load.

As a general idea I have no issue with this sort of ad unit, at least in the context that it involves an action from a reader to trip the expanded ad. The issue lies with payment, or more importantly lack there of.

The new ad units come in two financial models: traditional (for this format) CPM payment (payment for 1000 views) and CPC (cost per click). The CPM pays irrespective of whether or not the view results in a visit to the advertised site, but the CPC only pays on the visit. The latter is fine for a normal text or image Adsense unit, but remember here, when a reader clicks on the expandable ad, they get shown the expanded ad, and are NOT taken to the advertisers site. So despite the exposure an ad like this would provide (Google’s example includes a unit with video, image above), Adsense publishers only get paid if the reader clicks a second time.

That’s a setup that short changes Adsense publishers. A reader could sit through a 30 second expandable ad with video and complimentary branding, and the site hosting could not be paid a cent for it.

To make matters worse, you can’t opt out of the expandable ads alone. The only way to opt out is to opt out of image ads, and few publishers would want to do that. The only positive (well for me at least) is that these units are only being offered sites with Adsense accounts registered in North America or Europe so far.

The ad market is getting tighter, and it’s understandable that Google would look to expand it’s offering, but not paying publishers in this way is not exactly a friendly move by the largest internet advertising company on the planet.