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About the User First beta program

Welcome to AdSense’s User First beta program. You were invited to this beta program because you offer your visitors a good web experience, e.g., your pages are fast-loading or your users are happy with the ad layout on your site. With this beta, you'll get early access to new features designed to help boost your revenue and provide your visitors with better ad experiences, as long as you continue prioritizing giving users a great experience and enable AdSense to optimize for that experience.

Benefits

The User First program offers the following key benefits:

  • Timely, relevant ads for your users: Your visitors who are signed into Google will see ads that they’ll want to engage with more.
  • More valuable ads for you: User First's targeted ads are better for your business and could increase your revenue.
  • Fewer, better ads: User First will start optimizing your ad load to create an even better experience for your visitors.

In the future, we’ll provide publishers in the User First beta program with access to new features and intelligent new formats. So, stay tuned.

Some features of User First may work better for some publishers than others. If we detect that they are not performing well for you, we may pause your participation in the beta.

How we measure the user experience on your site

The User First beta program is designed to reward publishers who offer a good user experience. To measure the user experience on your site we look at three metrics and calculate a score for each. Your scores determine whether you can take advantage of what User First has to offer. The better your scores, the more likely you can take advantage of the benefits. If your scores ever drop below the required level, we'll provide you with recommendations to help you bring them back up again so you can keep receiving the program’s benefits.

The User First metrics are:

Site speed

How many seconds does it take for your pages to be rendered usable for visitors?

A faster site means better user engagement, less abandonment, and higher overall user satisfaction. Consider the following statistics:

  • ~⅓ of mobile users will immediately switch to another site if it's too clumsy or slow 1
  • 1 in 5 dissatisfied users will never return to a website where problems have occurred 2
  • Mobile pages that load 1s faster see a 27% increase in conversion rate, which advertisers love 3

Sources

1 Consumers in the Micro-Moment, Wave 3, Google/Ipsos, U.S., August 2015, n=1291 online smartphone users 18+
2 Akamai Technologies - 2014 Consumer Web Performance Expectations Survey
3 SOASTA Case study (September 1st, 2015)

Having a fast site is one of the best things you can do to provide a good experience for your users.

Ad layout

What percentage of the ad clicks on your site are of high quality?

Low-quality clicks often occur when a user clicks an ad by mistake and then immediately clicks the back button. For example, let's say you’re about to click "Next" to move pages but you click the ad that's placed right above the button instead. Or, you’re about to click a link in an article when the page suddenly moves and you click an ad instead. When content "reflows" like this, i.e., it moves within the viewport after it's loaded, accidental clicks are common. In both cases, users tend to immediately hit the back button to get back to the content they were reading.

These kind of clicks aren’t good for users, advertisers or publishers. They annoy users by taking them away from your content, and they provide no return on investment for advertisers.

Whether or not your ad clicks represent the true intent of the user is an excellent measure of the quality of the overall ad experience. The lower the rate of low-quality clicks your site sees, the more confident we can be that users are having a great experience on your site and the advertiser is getting what they paid for.

Ad satisfaction

How often do visitors mute ads on your site due to ad placement?

The "Mute this ad" Mute this ad icon feature gives users the ability to control the ads they see. It also lets them signal which ads they find uninteresting or annoying. This feature has benefits for everyone:

  • Users: Have control over ads
  • Advertisers: No longer pay to show ads to people who aren't interested
  • Publishers: Get ads that perform better, and spend less time filtering out ads of no interest to their audience.
Example of the mute this ad button

When users choose to mute ads, we know they aren’t satisfied with the ad experience. There are usually two main reasons why users mute an ad:

  • They don't want to see a particular ad
  • The format or placement of the ad interrupts their browsing experience.

To handle the first case, Google will stop showing a muted ad to that user and also stop certain other ads very similar to it that have been purchased by the same advertiser. For the second case, this is where good ad placement becomes critical. To calculate your Ad satisfaction score, we filter out the first case to focus solely on the effect of placement on your users’ behavior.

In addition, in order to adequately optimize the ad load on your site, we’re only able to provide the benefits on sites that serve only AdSense ads. This is so AdSense can effectively measure and adjust the number of ads for your visitors automatically. To do this, simply review your site to ensure that AdSense ads are the only ones being shown to your users.

Your User First scorecard

Once you’re eligible, you can check your scores in the User First card on your AdSense homepage.

Score Description
Your site meets the requirement for this metric. Keep up the great work.
Your site is about to drop below the requirement for this metric. Now's a great time to make some changes to improve your score.
Your site doesn't meet the requirement for this metric. We recommend that you review our recommendations and take action to fix this.
Important: Note that a red score means that you don't currently have access to the benefits (e.g., improved ad performance) of the User First beta program.
We don't have enough data to give you a score right now.
Note that when we don’t have enough data to calculate your score, we’re unable to provide the benefits of the User First beta program.

Recommendations to improve your user experience

Here are our recommendations if you need help to improve the user experience on your site:

Site speed recommendations

Keeping your site fast is all about making your pages lightweight and focusing on giving the user a good first impression.

Check your speed

Use the PageSpeed Insights tool to assess your current performance in more detail and get additional recommendations for how to make improvements. Another option is to check out Lighthouse, an open-source tool for improving the performance of your site.

When you know where to apply your efforts, you can choose a few optimizations to get started.

Use our framework for faster mobile sites

To help you speed up your site, we've developed a 3-step framework for success:

  • Give a good first impression

    Your goal: Make your site as fast as possible.

    Visitors want to see visible content, particularly above the fold, as soon as possible. To achieve this, load your important content first and make your site usable almost instantly.

  • Reduce the number of requests

    Your goal: <80 requests

    Requests equal the number of resources that the browser needs to request from the server. So the fewer requests you make, the faster the load time.

  • Lower your page weight

    Your goal: <1MB

    Page weight is the number of bytes your page loads. Each asset on your page has weight, so making your pages lighter means they'll load more quickly for visitors.

Fix common issues that slow down sites

Below, we’ll take you through some of the most common issues that slow down sites and how to fix them.

  • Issue: Heavy images

    Fix: Make sure you use the right image format and size, and always compress your images.

  • Issue: Too many resource requests

    Fix: Reduce server response time and leverage the browser cache so you're only calling resources once. You should also consolidate resources to limit the number of roundtrips.

  • Issue: Custom fonts reducing performance

    Fix: Disable custom fonts for smartphones. If you do have to use custom fonts, we recommend that you only use them with headers and key typographical elements.

  • Issue: Too many redirects

    Fix: Use fewer redirects overall, especially client-side redirects that slow down the delivery of your content.

  • Issue: Using synchronous ad code

    Fix: Switch any synchronous ad code on your site to the asynchronous version. Synchronous ad code blocks the loading of your content, while asynchronous ad code never gets in the way and provides a better user experience. Learn how to switch to asynchronous ad code.

View more resources on site speed

For more ideas on how to make your site lightning-fast, see the Google Developers resources on Speed.

Ad layout recommendations

Ad placement is a big factor in determining the quality of your ad clicks. You should review the AdSense program policies in detail to make sure your site is compliant. However, there are a few cases in particular to watch out for that often drive high numbers of accidental clicks. Make sure your site avoids these to ensure a better experience for your users.

Ads near navigational elements

Placing an ad near a navigational element, such as a “Next” button or an arrow, is a frequent cause of accidental or low-quality user clicks.

Make sure you remove any ad that’s too close to a navigation button or within a gallery of images. These placements tend to confuse users and lead them to click ads instead of engaging with your content.

Example of an ad near a navigational element

Encouraging accidental clicks

You're not permitted to encourage users to click on Google ads in any way. This includes placing ads in a way that they might be mistaken for other site content, such as a menu, navigation, or download links.

Be careful when you place links, play buttons, download buttons, navigation buttons (e.g., “Previous" or “Next"), game windows, video players, drop-down menus, or applications near ads because they might lead to accidental clicks. Even if your layout unintentionally leads to accidental clicks, you may still receive lower scores or may even violate AdSense program policies.

Example of an ad placement that encourages accidental clicks

There are a variety of other potential placements that reduce the likelihood of high-quality clicks. Review the ad placement policies and these best practices for ad placement to ensure you’re giving your users the best experience.

Ad satisfaction recommendations

In addition to ensuring that your ad placements meet the AdSense program policies, be extra careful to avoid two particular types of placement that often cause users to mute their ads.

Remove ads that interfere with your content

Ads that cover your content keep users from engaging with your site (and are also against AdSense policy). Be sure also to avoid overloading your content with ads or placing them too close to content. This is a common cause of users muting ads. Make sure that you don’t have any ads that interfere with the core reading experience, and test this on multiple devices as the experiences can vary considerably.
Example of an ad that interferes with content

Don’t create custom containers for ads (e.g., anchor ads)

AdSense ads are designed to load fast, work well within your page, and meet tough quality standards when it comes to their behavior. Don’t modify formats causing them to behave differently than intended.

This is especially true of anchor ads that stick to the top or bottom of your screen. If you want to use the anchor ad format, we'd suggest that you use the official AdSense anchor ad, rather than build one yourself. Custom ad implementations can often obscure the content unnecessarily for your users and lead to more mutes.

Example of an ad in a custom container

When your users are no longer muting ads, it’s a good sign that they can comfortably engage with your content and are satisfied with your ad placements.

As always, failing to comply with the AdSense program policies can not only get you removed from the User First beta program, but can lead to revenue deductions or your termination from AdSense.

Send feedback

We'd love to hear your thoughts about the User First beta program. You can send us feedback by following these instructions:

  1. Sign in to your AdSense account.
  2. In your "User First" scorecard, either:
    • Click Send feedback.

      Or

    • Click More More, then click Send feedback.
  3. Enter your feedback in the text box.
  4. Check the box if you want to include a screenshot.
  5. Click Send.

If you’d prefer to opt out of the User First beta program, please contact support to be removed.

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