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2019 in Review: AdSense Account, Ads, and Policy Updates

If you are an AdSense Publisher, using AdSense ads on your own website or blog, 2019 brought updates to the AdSense account pages and changes in ads. Plus AdSense content policy is now consistent with AdMob and Ad Manager policies, and it's slightly more relaxed than it used to be.

Make a New Year's resolution to check your ad settings in your AdSense account and the ad code on your site to make sure your

And if you get visitors to your site from California, make sure to check your California Consumer Privacy Act settings in your AdSense account.

Simplified Ad Settings

One of the major changes to AdSense this year was simplifying available ad formats, and a new push for the use of Auto Ads instead of fixed ad units. Auto Ads let you add a single bit of code to your pages, and AdSense uses machine learning-based algorithms to decide where ads should be inserted.

Text-only ads and display-only ads were phased out, and replaced with a single type of Display Ads. The option to add custom ad styles to new ad units was also removed.

AdSense is also testing combined Google ad/link units.

Responsive ad units are now the default, and AdSense made changes to the way they work. If you haven't checked your site's layout recently and use responsive ad units, check your site's code so they aren't placed in a container with a fixed or limited height.

AdSense also changed the behavior of Vignette Auto Ads, so that they display more frequently. Vignettes are mobile full-screen ads that display between page loads.  You can enable or disable them in your ad settings.

But the biggest change this year was the new and improved Auto Ads. Instead of only displaying on pages that have the Auto Ad code, Auto Ads now display on any page on your site with AdSense ad code, as long as you have Auto Ads enabled.

To help Publishers manage Auto Ads, AdSense added new settings that let you control where and how the Auto Ads display.

If you have AdSense ads on your site, and your philosophy has been "set it and forget it", sign in to AdSense to make sure they are still working as you expect.

AdSense account updates

AdSense has been updating the account pages to make it easier to manage your ads and see your stats. The biggest change is the new Ads Overview page.

That lets you see at a glance whether you have Auto Ads enabled, and to edit site settings or see ad performance. If you haven't checked the settings for your sites with Auto Ads enabled, now is a great time to do so.

Mobile-Friendly Interface

The new interface is mobile-friendly. The AdSense mobile apps, which haven't been updated in a couple of years, will be discontinued in early 2020. If you haven't accessed your AdSense account in the browser on your mobile device recently, check it out. You should be pleasantly surprised.

Updated Sites List

In late 2018 AdSense started requiring all sites be reviewed before they show ads. To show ads on a new site, you must add it to your account's Sites list. Ads only start showing on the new site after it has gone through ownership verification and content review. The new Sites page started rolling out to users in late November 2018.

In September 2019, AdSense started showing notices that inactive sites would have to be re-reviewed before they can show ads again. Websites or blogs in your AdSense Sites list that have not displayed ads for at least five months become inactive. The re-review process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Check your AdSense account's Sites page to see whether you have any inactive sites or sites at risk for becoming inactive.

Data snapshots from AdSense and Analytics on the Home screen

The AdSense home screen now includes cards with a snapshot view of ad performance stats from your AdSense account, announcements, and Google Analytics.

The Google Analytics data is especially interesting, as it can show information about your audience, traffic sources and most viewed pages. You need to first set up Analytics for your website (Blogger instructions) then link your AdSense account to Analytics.


AdSense has been much more active providing notifications of changes and account warnings. You should get an email, but the notification bell inside your AdSense account is one-stop to find updates that can affect your account and earnings.

Site Kit for WordPress Sites

If you have a WordPress site, can install the new Site Kit by Google to place ad code and see your AdSense earnings and ad performance.  The plugin also lets you monitor your site's traffic and performance in Google Search.

AdSense has instructions for setting up Site Kit, and also suggests several third party plugins for managing ads on your WordPress site.

Policy Updates

Content Policy

In September, Google streamlined their content policies so that they would be consistent for AdSense, AdMob and Google Ad Manager. This actually made the policies for AdSense publishers a bit less strict.

Some content is covered by the Google Publisher Policies, and is absolutely not allowed to display ads. It includes content that is illegal, copyright-infringing, dangerous, derogatory, misrepresentative, or sexually explicit. Placing AdSense ad code on pages with this content violates AdSense policy and can result in your account being suspended or terminated.

But now there are now also Google Publisher Restrictions, which covers content that will not display Google Ads, but that you can monetize with other advertising products or direct deals with advertisers. This includes content that is sexual (but not sexually explicit), shocking, or includes weapons, tobacco, alcohol sales, pharmaceuticals or recreational drugs. It is not a policy violation to place AdSense ad code on such content, even though ads may not display.

There are also more regular policy updates, which you can keep track of on the AdSense policy change log. Check the page periodically, as you are responsible for keeping your sites compliant with current AdSense policy.

Invalid Activity

AdSense has also improved their detection of invalid activity on ads.

While invalid activity may result in your AdSense account being suspended or terminated, AdSense  may also just reduce ad serving on pages with invalid ad traffic.

You can see if your sites are affected in your AdSense account's Policy Center. That will provide more information and provide guidance for fixing the issues.

Privacy and Other Policies

Beyond the AdSense content rules, your sites also need to comply with any government or other external policies. Make sure your sites have an updated Privacy Policy, and comply with the Better Ads Standards, the California Consumer Privacy Act  (going into effect January 1, 2020), and EU user Consent Policy.

2019 Updates: AdSense