Last December, Google told us they are retiring the Google AdSense link units, one of the early popular ad formats within Google AdSense. Google just announced the company has “now reached the final stage of that process” by “removing fixed-sized link units from the AdSense interface.”
Google wrote “Last year, we announced that link units were being retired. We’ve now reached the final stage of that process: removing fixed-sized link units from the AdSense interface. Since fixed-size link units are no longer serving ads, you do not need to take any action. If you previously used fixed-sized link units, they will be automatically removed from the list of ad units in your account.”
AdSense link unit were first introduced in 2007, AdSense itself was launched in 2003. Link ads display a list of topics that are relevant to the content of your page.
Google said they would be retired by March 2021 but I guess this deadline extended a bit through June 2021. Although, many saw their units drop off towards the end of March but this was the last bit of it.
The folks at WebmasterWorld have been having mixed reactions to this news over the past several months:
On my website ad units represent about 30% total revenue. Dont understand. Google still wants Auto ads, but auto ads is very bad.
90% of my revenue comes from link units.
I have no idea why Google wants to remove them since they clearly work. If the replacement ad units are not close in revenue generation, this will be devastating (and Google will lose a substantial amount of money as well).
I am completely confused by this decision.
A lot of websites/companies relying on Adsense revenue will end due to this change. For those that do not see substantial link unit revenue, this seems like a non-issue, but link units outperform every Adsense ad unit I have in place (and I use them all). My revenue will drop by 70%-90%.
Yesterday was, I think, the first day without link ad units at all.
From 10th March to 26th March the old link ads were slowly and gradually replaced by a new responsive unit.
If I look at yesterday’s vs last same weekday reports, these are the metrics:
Estimated earnings -42%
Impression RPM -33%
Yesterday was my first day without link ads and whatever google has replaced them with have failed miserably. My earnings are down 75%. Google is assuming most webmasters are foolish and don’t know how to monetize their own websites it seems. However, they have royally #*$!ed my profits and I’m not sure what I should do. Maybe if I let it ride a week Google will notice and revert back. Kind of like the search team does after updates that don’t have intended consequences. If not I need to do a lot of testing and take back control of my ads being displayed. If anyone finds a comparable alternative please share!
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.
Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say
Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.
“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”
The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”
“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”
Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.
The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.
Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.
The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.
Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”
The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.
Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.
Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”
States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.
The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.
Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.
“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.
Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.
“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”
The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.
Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.
“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.