What is AdSense Matched Content?
During April 2015, Google introduced a content recommendation widget through the existing AdSense platform. This is similar to recommended articles from outbrain or taboola and indicates the intention of Google’s entry into this area of content recommendation for monetizing. This widget is also comparable to the related posts widget in WordPress and other CMS platforms. The widget will look something like below and occupy the container space responsively.
The purpose of the recommended content widget is to increase the page views thus improving the ad revenue indirectly. In addition, you can also opt for showing advertisements to earn more revenue.
Who Are Eligible?
Unfortunately, matched content ads is not available for all AdSense publishers. Google claims, the eligibility depends on the minimum traffic limit and unique pages available on the site. Of course this ad format is also only applicable for AdSense publishers who own approved websites and for other products like AdMob or YouTube. You can check the eligibility from AdSense account:
- Login to your AdSense account.
- Navigate to “Sites > Matched Content” section.
- You will see the eligible sites listed here as shown in the below picture:
- When you have only one site in your account and not eligible for matched content ads then you will not see “Matched Content” menu under “Sites” section.
- If you have multiple sites, you will see only the eligible sites under “Matched Content” section. Other sites are not eligible in this case.
Remember, matched content ads work on the domain level. When you have subdomains or subdirectories, the content recommendation will include pages from those sites as well. However, you can use the blocklist function to block or include specific pages on your site.
How to Create Matched Content Ads?
If you have an eligible site under your account, there are two ways to create content recommendations. One is to create separate ad unit and other is to use auto ads feature.
Create Matched Content Ad Unit
We recommend to create separate ad unit as using auto ads may mess up the display on your site. After logging in to your account, go to “Ads > Overview > By ad unit” section.
The process is same like creating any other ad unit and in this case select “Matched content” option. On the next page, you can see the display of content recommendations from your site with the options to customize.
- Select the eligible sites from the list to view the recommendations in the preview pane.
- Type a unique name for your ad.
- Ad options – choose whether you want to monetize your recommendations. We will explain more on this below.
- Style – customize the font, title color and background color for your ad area.
- Size – you have two options to choose from – responsive and custom. Unless, you have specific size of container on your site, we recommend to select “Responsive” option. If you want to use “Custom” option, Google recommends to use width:height ratio as 2:1 for horizontal placements and 1:2 for vertical placements.
- In addition, you can also drag the slider to resize the ad area to adjust the ad size.
After finishing your setup, click on “SAVE AND GET CODE” button. Copy the code snippet and insert on your site to display matched content ads. It may take sometime for Google to show ads on your site, therefore wait for 15 to 30 minutes to check whether everything looks fine.
Using AdSense Auto Ads for Matched Content
Creating individual ad unit will help you to place the code on your preferred location. Generally, you can place the recommendations on below the content or inside the sidebar area. However, this may be a difficult task when your site has different structure on different pages. In this case, you can let Google show the matched content ads automatically using auto ads setup.
- When you are in AdSense account page, go to “Ads > Overview > By site” option.
- Click on the “Edit” icon against the eligible site. This will show the preview of auto ads insertion on the selected site.
- On the right sidebar, enable “Matched content” option under “Ad formats” section.
Click, “Apply to site” button to enable matched content recommendations. As mentioned, auto ads may insert the content recommendations below the footer area. Most of the time, users will not see the ads available below the footer. Therefore, we recommend to use individual matched content ad units to showcase on the preferred section on your site. However, the big advantage of auto ads is that you can enable AMP option so that it will show on AMP pages.
Further Customizations of Matched Content
Google allow you to modify the ad code of matched content to change the format, row and columns. You can refer the Google official support page to get the recommended code for changing the display as per your need. However, you can customize the content recommendations within you AdSense account. Go to “Sites” Matched content” and click on the eligible site. You have the following options for customization:
- Time freshness – choose the content to show from any time or only the most recent article on the recommendations.
- Blocklist – you can block any specific page or subdomain or subdirectory. This is useful to exclude the recommendations from subdomains when you have non-related content on the domain and subdomains.
- Preferred content – you can add any specific page on your site permanently on the recommendations. Google will show you the page in the list regardless of the content on the current page. This will be useful to drive traffic to any specific page on your site.
Can I Make More Money With Matched Content Ads?
Ideal purpose of the matched content ads is to improve the user engagement, page views and time on site without having direct impact on AdSense revenue. Since more page views will result in increased RPM and the possibility of increased ad clicks there is a high possibility of increased revenue with matched content ads.
Though it is offered as a free recommendation tool, the purpose it is being offered as part of AdSense account is inevitable that Google will soon or later convert this as a monetizing option. As we have mentioned earlier ( strike out part), now you can easily monetize the content recommendations on your site. Even at this point of time, there are sponsored ads displayed in-between the related recommended posts indicating Google may be experimenting this feature in beta mode. Google is continuously optimizing matched content ads and allows you to insert third-party sponsored content on your site. You can use special meta tag to inform Google that you are showing sponsored content inside the matched recommendations.
What are the Guidelines?
Since the purpose of matched content ad is different they have different set of guidelines:
- Ensure to place the matched content ads only on the eligible site, placing it on the other site may not display the recommendations and the recommendations will only work within a domain level.
- Only the pages having AdSense ad code (either normal ad or matched content ad) will be shown in the recommended content widget.
- The matched content ads will not be accounted for the content ad limit on a page level. Though there is no limit on number matched content ads on a page mentioned by Google, it makes sense to strict with maximum of two widgets.
- Google recommends to place the widget either above or below the AdSense ads or place below the post content to increase the user engagement.
- The widget is responsive and works on mobile devices also.
Pros & Cons
There are many advantages as well as disadvantages of using AdSense matched content ads on a page.
- The widget has very limited controls like the page needs to have a featured image and open graph meta tags so that Google will show the images.
At this moment there are no options to choose text only recommendations.You can modify the code to use text only recommendations when you have no proper images on all the pages of your site.
- Since recommendations are using script, users can block with ad blocking softwares. Also if Google services are not available then matched content widget will show blank space.
- The earnings per click from matched content ads is as low as 0.1$ which may not make sense when you have larger site.
- Matched content ads will drastically pull down the page speed as the images and scripts needs to be loaded from third-party servers.
- Works within AdSense account with platform independent.
- Increases the possibility of getting more revenue with the existing content on site.
- Related posts widgets are resource intensive since all posts are to be indexed before retrieving the relevant posts based on title or tags. Matched content ads are relatively asynchronously without affecting server bandwidth. This is useful especially when you use cheap shared hosting servers.
Monitoring Performance Reports
One of the biggest advantage of using matched content ads is that you can easily monitor and get readymade reports from the performance reports section of your AdSense account. There are three metrics available for this reporting – total impressions, recommendations and clicks as shown in the below picture:
You can also generate report for matched content and monitor the revenue.
AdSense is a powerful monetization option for website owners and matched content ads is definitely a value addition to the existing publishers.
We also hope Google will soon come out of the beta mode and offer more customization options or plugins for platforms like WordPress. Now, Google has a SiteKit plugin for integrating entire Google tools like Analytics, AdSense, PageSpeed and Search Console to your WordPress site.
The strike out content are written during the initial publication of this article. As we have predicted, Google adapted all the changes like integration with WordPress, allow monetization and customize the display.