What are Google AdSense Side Rail Ads, and should publishers use them?

Google AdSense has introduced a new ad format called Side Rails. In this article, we explain what Side Rail Ads are, how they work and whether they’re a good option for publishers.


What are Google AdSense Side Rail Ads?

On 30 November 2022, Google AdSense announced a new ad format called Side Rails. Side Rails are ads that stick to the sides of your pages when they’re viewed on widescreen devices, such as desktops.

This is the first time ad units of this type have been available on Google AdSense. Previously, Google policy prohibited the use of more than one vertical sticky format on the same page.

How do Google AdSense Side Rail Ads work – and where can they be used?

Since 13 December, Google AdSense Side Rail Ads have automatically started to appear on publishers’ sites if anchor ads are turned on in AdSense. Google AdSense Side Rails, can be disabled in the control panel, as shown below:

Side Rail Ads will appear on either side of the main content of the page, where there is enough space for them. That means they will usually only show on wider desktop screens and cannot be used on mobile devices.

What are the advantages of Google AdSense Side Rail Ads?

Google AdSense Side Rail Ads are a good way to monetize a wider screen on desktop because they generally occupy empty spaces on the screen and do not disturb users as they do not conflict with content. These ad formats are always in view and have a great viewability, which is good for advertisers and is likely to result in higher revenues for publishers.

Furthermore, because they are now available on Google AdSense and are inserted automatically, it’s easy for even smaller publishers without much technical knowledge to make use of this format.

Alternatives to Google AdSense Side Rail Ads – Mirror Sticky Ads from Clickio

It’s important to note, though, that the idea behind side rail ads is nothing new and similar formats have been available from other ad networks for years.

For example, Clickio offers a range of sticky ad formats, which ensure high viewability by remaining in place as the user scrolls. Clickio’s Mirror Sticky Ads appear on both sides of the screen, outside of the main content, just like Side Rails and publishers in our network have been enjoying revenues from such ad placements for years. Usually mirrored ads have the same shape and format, which creates additional symmetry on the page and makes them more visually harmonious.

Clickio Mirror Sticky Ads v Google AdSense Side Rails

While at first glance the two formats might appear identical, Mirror Sticky Ads from Clickio actually have three main advantages over Side Rail Ads.

  • Competition from more demand sources

Google AdSense Side Rail Ads can only access demand from AdSense, whereas Clickio Mirror Stickies allow multiple premium demand sources to compete for the ad impressions, via Google Ad Manager 360, Open Bidding and Header Bidding. The increased competition means publishers are likely to get higher bids from advertisers and see increased revenue.

  • Access to advanced optimization techniques

Clickio’s AI-powered platform uses dynamic price floor optimization to maximize revenue from each ad impression. Alongside this, publishers have access to features such as multi-ad formats and smart ad refresh which can maximize revenue from a single ad unit while also respecting user experience.

  • Personalised support from a dedicated account manager

While it’s easy to get started with AdSense, if anything goes wrong then publishers are left to fend for themselves. On the other hand, all publishers working with Clickio can take advantage of our expert tech support, along with a dedicated account manager, available to offer advice on the best ad setup or help resolve any issues quickly.

Should publishers use Google AdSense Side Rail Ads?

As we’ve seen, Side Rails can be a simple way to increase revenue with a high-viewability format, so they could be a good idea for smaller publishers with limited capacity to optimize their sites.

However, alternatives such as Clickio Mirror Sticky Ads are likely to be a better option for those willing to look beyond AdSense, as they can bring access to more competition, enhanced optimization opportunities and improved support.

To find out more about Clickio mirror sticky ads, please get in touch here.

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