Igor Kromin |   Consultant. Coder. Blogger. Tinkerer. Gamer.

When Google AdSense Matched Content units first became available, I jumped at the opportunity to add them to my blog. In fact I wrote an article about them - Benefit of adding Google AdSense Matched Content to your site or blog. If you don't know what Matched Content is - Matched content is a free recommendation service that offers you a simple way to promote your content to your site visitors. Simply put, it shows links to other parts/articles/posts on your website/blog for your visitors to explore.

It should look like this...

However, lately I've been noticing that many of the my articles are getting matched content that looks more like this (a video covering the entire space of where the Matched Content should go)...

Clicking the X in the top right hand corner shows the usual "Report this ad" and "Why this ad" screen that all AdSense units show. So it looks like Google has put in an ad in place of where Matched Content should be.

To be sure, I checked my Matched Content settings to make sure that monetisation was disabled, and it was...

According to Google's own documentation...
In addition, Google will show ads in between your Matched content recommendations. The "Monetize with ads" option is switched on by default, but you can switch it off (when you create or edit a Matched content unit) if you don't want to show ads.

Note that if your site can't be well monetized, Google won't shows ads in your Matched content units even if you have "Monetize with ads" switched on.

So what gives Google? Why are ads being shown when they are explicitly disabled?

I did try enabling ads for Matched Content and ended up with this...

All of a sudden my matches show up, but with 3 ads injected into them! The ads were expected of course. Disabling ads again caused the video ad to return. So obviously Google had data to display matches, but for some reason it wasn't.

This has been going on for a number of months now and I've been noticing my ad revenue steadily dropping over that time too (maybe because engagement dropped due to my other articles not being recommended?) Whether this is a bug or not, I may have to start looking for alternative options for recommended matches.

Update: Looks like there is a community discussion thread about this very topic that has been started over a year ago - Video ads instead of matched content units???. It also looks like Google has locked the discussion...

Clearly Google doesn't care that this is happening, which is sad to see. One of the commenters has recommended a 'fix' by setting up a Matched Content layout, this works somewhat but does need a bit of playing around to get right. These are the settings that seem to work for me...


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