Ad Inserts Blank Taking Up Space in Content in WordPress

Ad Inserts Blank Taking Up Space in Content in WordPress

I have the oddest issue with ads in CrossingColorado.com. I am seeing broken ad inserts alongside valid ads from AdSense while also showing “Existing Third Party Ad” sections while some appear blank. In reality, I should only have 4 ads on mobile devices from AdSense.

Apparently, it’s not all that easy of a problem to troubleshoot. Well, at least in the short time I’ve been toying with the layout.

Problem: Ad Inserts are Blank within the Content for Mobile Devices

Currently, I have auto-ads to send four inserts to the content. Anything more than that, and I just think it looks kind of tacky. But right now, more than 15 ads are being displayed every time.

According to AdSense, only four viable ads are being sent to the website. Everything else is populating as an “Existing Third Party Ad” or broken ads that sit there and endlessly load.

The result is a post riddled with ads and/or empty blank spaces. And the ads are populating in some of the worst possible locations.

This only affects AMP pages. Exiting Mobile version or using a desktop computer shows the site exactly how it’s supposed to be. Not to mention how the AMP version of the site tends to rapidly jump back and forth while it loads.

And according to Google’s PageSpeed Insights, this jumping effect does not trigger its cumulative layout shift.

Troubleshooting the Issue with Ad Inserts Being Blank

OK…so, I know the issue now lies within AMP pages. As I said, desktop and non-amp mobile pages load perfectly. In fact, my Instagram feed loads just fine outside of AMP, which it fills with empty ad space while using AMP.

What I need to solve is: 1) why the empty spaces, 2) why the over-abundance of ads, and 3) why is the site jumping during load.

I have a feeling the jumping page is related to what’s causing the ad inserts to be blank.

Now, I know that Google will assign the space on the page without filling it with an ad. This will cause empty spaces within content when using Auto-ads. However, I’m more concerned with why Google doesn’t see these spaces as being its own ads.

It’s like AdSense doesn’t know that those spaces below to it.

Checking AMP Settings

The settings for the AMP plugin in WordPress are pretty straightforward. There’s nothing there that would suggest it is placing additional ad spaces throughout the content.

However, I am using Transitional settings and the Legacy transition for paired URL structure. All of my other AMP-using blogs are also on Transitional. But, the others are using the “?amp=1” Query parameter.

Could the legacy URL be causing the issue? I don’t really see how. Then again, I’ve seen a lot of things in my time.

Changing to Query Parameter in AMP

I changed to the Query parameter in the Paired URL Structure of AMP.

To be honest, I don’t remember setting that up when installing AMP. Usually, I stick with default settings on everything until I need a reason to change. In this case, I don’t remember changing it from default.

Unfortunately, this means I’ll have to wait for Google to index the new AMP versions. This means I’m going to take a traffic hit again as more than 60% of visitors do so from a mobile device.

Changing the setting did nothing for ad placement. Still way too many ads, blank spaces, and jumping screen.

Setting the URL back so I don’t lose traffic.

UPDATE: All Three Sites Are Doing It Now!

I just checked PracticallyLivingGreen.com and WriterSanctuary.com. All three websites are now flooded with ads, some with the ad inserts being blank and doing that odd jumping effect.

Changing from Transitional to Standard AMP

I am now going to try to shift the AMP version from Transitional to Standard. I’m not sure if this is going to break a website, so, I’ll try it on PracticallyLivingGreen.com first since it gets very little traffic.

Well, that made matters worse. Now, there are blank ad inserts all the way down the page…even on the desktop browser.

Not to mention how it broke the image slider on the homepage.

Standard is not going to cut it for what I’m trying to do.

The odd thing is the PracticallyLIvingGreen.com shouldn’t be getting auto-ads from Google. In fact, I have it disabled!

One difference between PracticallyLivingGreen.com and ColoradoPlays.com (which CP has no AMP install) is how Advanced Ads is set to “Enable AMP Auto Ads.”

I’m going to disable this feature in Advanced Ads and see what happens.

Advanced Ads is the plugin I use to control advertisements on my sites. And it has worked brilliantly up until the moment I installed AMP.

No joy. I am still getting a ton of blank spaces and ad saturation.

Checking In-page Ads

The only website I have that doesn’t seem to be negatively affected is ColoradoPlays.com. That’s because I don’t use AMP on the site.

I just enabled auto ads for ColoradoPlays.com to see if it’s perhaps that specific feature that is messing the content up with blank ad inserts. But, it could take up to an hour before the changes will take effect.

I suppose I’ll wait for a bit. I’ll check back in an hour and a half just to give it a bit of time.

While I’m waiting, I just had another idea. On CrossingColorado.com, Auto ads is enabled as is the in-page ads. What if I disable in-page ads?

It removed the Google ads from AdSense, but it’s still showing the ad loading screen across the page. I’m still confused about what the “Existing Third Party Ad” section is and why it’s apparent on all of my websites.

There is nothing in those areas that will show an advertisement.

So, in a bit over an hour, I’ll check both CrossingColorado.com and ColoradoPlays.com to see what those changes affected, if anything.

Checking Back

I gave ColoradoPlays.com almost two hours. And, there is no difference with in-content ads. However, the homepage seems to have a few new ad inserts that are not blank.

As for CrossingColorado.com, the ads are still saturating the blog posts. But, they’re not blank this time.

This leads me to believe the empty ad spaces appearing are the result of AdSense not sending an ad unit to the space it allocated on the page. So, there really isn’t much I can do about ad inserts appearing blank on mobile devices.

However, I am pretty distraught that Google thinks I need 15 or more ads per blog post. And this is after they advise not to do this kind of thing.

I Guess There is One Course of Action…

Until I come across a more permanent solution, I guess I’ll simply get rid of AMP from my sites.

I’m sure that AMP works great for some people. But for how I have my blogs set up, it’s creating havoc for AdSense. And you’d think Google would have streamlined this a bit better.

Am I going to lose ad revenue during the change? Quite possibly. Instead of showing 15 ads per visit, I’m only going to aim for five. But, I’ll be able to control where those ad units are going.

This is probably one of the more important aspects of this experiment. I don’t see how placing ads in between a few two-sentence paragraphs is “the best places” according to AdSense.

Ad, sentence, ad, sentence, ad is just way too much.

I guess this means I’ll have to find other methods to optimize the sites for speed. Blogging is such a pain in the ass.

Published by Michael