Google has announced that after January 20th, 2024, it will actively start to punish publishers that engage in the Admob placement refreshes and GAM placement refreshes. Google has announced that it will stop buying any inventory on publisher apps for a period between 1 week to 1 month based on both historic and current detected abuse. As Google typically represents anywhere between 40-60% of the Share of Revenue of mobile publishers this punishment can only be described as extremly severe.
The behaviors that will be punished are but are not limited to:
Frequent creation of Admob/GAM placements
Usage or manipulation of new ad units in multi-call queries
What are Admob and GAM placement refreshes?
Google on Mobile has a unique feature compared to other mobile networks when you make new placements on Admob and GAM these ad units are forced filled with better inventory at lower margins to quicker be able to asses its quality. This means that typically ad revenue from these placements triple or quadruple over 24-36 hours so as to let algorithms learn quicker.
Why was it so profitable for publishers?
By making new placements and updating them in their mediation platforms publishers have been able to take advantage of these peaks by making new placements multiple times per week or sometimes even per day. This in reality meant that sometimes publishers were able to inflate their ad revenues by up to 30% if this was done diligently.
What will this mean for the mobile ecosystem?
Starting on January 21st the most profitable ad monetization hack in mobile history will be severely punished and most likely cease to exist. This means that publishers who engage in this type of behavior should expect ad revenues to decrease by 20-30%. This will massively impact the ad LTV for publishers and change UA budgets accordingly. Publishers who rely more on ad revenue will be more severely impacted until a new equilibrium is reached.
The issue with the Google Statement
This massive change in Google Mobile policy was outlined ambiguously in 181 words by Anurag Ojha, a Product Manager in Google Ads. This in turn makes it hard for publishers to understand the criteria of what is characterized as abuse. Also, factors that influence a decision in a potential ban are not outlined. One can only speculate that this is done on purpose to instill a sense of fear in publishers.