Google AdSense Auto Ads vs Manual Placements

Google launched AdSense Auto ads back in February 2018. The tool has evolved over the years, offering more control to publishers. Manual placements, on the other hand, have been around for quite a while and many of you may have experience with them. They allow for greater control and provide a wider range of options that allow for full customization according to the publisher’s preferences. However, compared to Auto ads, they call for another level of technical knowledge and experience with setup and optimizations. If you are still wondering which one is a better fit for you, then this article might help you. Hint: it might not be one or the other.

Manual placements

Manual placements are the regular ads you might already be using in AdSense. Publishers are responsible for placing the AdSense code across their pages, as well as the tags for every ad unit they want to have on those pages. You would first need to select your preferences for the ad, such as format and size, and once you configure all the relevant settings, you should place the script at the specific location on your pages where you want the ad to appear.


Full control: with manual placements publishers retain full control over what kind of ads appear on their pages, where these ads will show up, and how they would fit their website design.

Better user experience: having full control over the ad setup means publishers can customize the ad experience to match their unique audience preferences.


Requires tech knowledge: manual placements are recommended if you already have some experience with ad operations, are able to make the necessary optimizations, and place code on the site yourself. 

Time-consuming: using this method of ad serving takes up more time and effort on your part. Alternatively, you would need to hire somebody to do it for you, which of course requires more resources.

Auto ads

Google AdSense Auto ads offer an easy and straightforward way to automatically place ads on your website. Publishers only paste one piece of code on the pages they want to monetize and don’t need to work on further ad unit setup and optimizations. The solution utilizes machine learning to display ads where they would yield the best results. The number of ads on the page depends on the article length. Publishers can set a maximum amount of ads to be displayed if they are concerned about user experience. Find out more about Auto ads in this article.


Uncomplicated setup: simply paste the AdSense code on the pages you want to monetize and let Google handle the rest. No need to manually set up ad units, no additional code, no need for further optimizations. 

Easy and simple control settings: effortlessly set which ad formats you want to use Auto ads with. Preview any changes before you apply them to your ads, both for desktop and mobile.

Mobile friendly: Auto ads adapt to any screen size. Mobile-only formats such as anchor advertising and vignettes are also included.

Revenue boost: Auto ads scan your pages for new ad placements based on your layout, content, and existing Google advertisements, which may lead to increased yield.


Limited control: Auto ads have evolved over the past years and now publishers do have control over the maximum number of ads they want on their pages, as well as what formats to be used. You can even select areas of your site where you don’t want Google to show ads to improve user experience. However, control is still very limited compared to manual ad placements and publishers have to rely on machine learning to select what’s best for their audience.

User experience may deteriorate: with Auto ads what users will experience on your website may vary greatly. While some may see just one ad at a time, others may be bombarded with numerous and different types of ads, due to the increased competition between ad formats. Leaving the decision to Google may save you a lot of time and effort, but may as well result in loss of audience.


Auto ads would better suit publishers who don’t have the time or expertise to perform a manual setup. If you need to focus on content, then auto ads may be a good fit for you. However, if you are more concerned about user experience and prefer to have full control over the ad setup of your website, then manual ads are a better choice.

Alternatively, it is possible to take the best of both worlds and implement both manual placements and auto ads. Google AdSense will automatically detect your manual placements and will only display additional advertisements on vacant spaces if the number of ads does not exceed the ad load you specify. You may also set up experiments to see if auto ads or your manual placements are performing better and then decide which type to leave.