Just before the holiday season onrush Google decided it would be a good idea to mess around with the AdSense ad units. John Chow published a picture of what Google is planning to do:
Currently visitors on your website can click the entire ad but once the changes kick in the only clickable areas will be the title and the URL. The impact of these changes is hard to predict. Short-term it will probably lead to lower CTRs and lower earnings but hopefully in the long-term CPCs will go up.
The main reason why Google is going to do this:
We’re rolling out a change to our text ad formats to help reduce accidental clicks and increase value for advertisers…..This new format will match the changes we’ve implemented on Google.com to help decrease the number of accidental clicks and increase the number of ad conversions. A reduction in accidental clicks will keep users on your pages, interacting with your content until they choose to click on an ad. This change will enhance the user’s overall experience with your websites and improve advertiser campaign value, but it’s likely that your click-through rate will decrease.
These changes are already in effect on Google’s search engine. In fact, when you do a search at Google you’ll notice that the only clickable area is the title. Not even the green URL can be clicked!
Too bad that YPN is still U.S. only.
Update: Google is rolling out the change at the moment. Some of the ads on my site already feature the new ad format while other ads still use the old one. Guess it will take them some time to roll out the change to all AdSense servers. Within a couple of days we’ll see how this new ad format affects our earnings.