Disclaimer: one of the marketing managers at SwitchAds approached me about testing their ad service.

The concept of this advertising service is a good one. While advertising services such as Google AdSense can usually fill two or three ad blocks on your web page regardless of the space available and are the best priced ads of those sizes that Google have available at the time, they are not necessarily the best priced ads you can get to fill those ad spaces on your site. The SwitchAds concept is one where SwitchAds attempts to sell the advertising space on your web pages at a higher price than your current ad service (such as AdSense) is selling the space for. When they are successful at selling the space they automatically switch in the higher priced ad in place of your default ad service - hence the name SwitchAds. This should give you the best of both worlds - higher priced ads where SwitchAds is able to obtain them for you and ads from your default ad service where SwitchAds is unable to find a better price or where the ad space is not one of the SwitchAds standard sizes (such as on handheld devices where only small ads will fit).

My Rating: yesnononono




When signing up you are asked to nominate a web site that you want the ads to display on (there is an opportunity to add additional web sites once you finish signing up).

Next you are asked to supply your current code for for an ad block where you want SwitchAds to look for better paying ads so that they can provide you with replacement code that will use their ad where available and switch back to your existing service if they can't find a better paying ad. Here's where their concept starts to break down. Their form deals with a specific ad block and asks you how big it is. If your site is still in the dark ages using a non-responsive layout that will not display properly on handheld devices and where the HTML and JavaScript are all jumbled together then you might have one block of code in the page for each ad block and know exactly how big each ad will be. If your site uses a responsive design and modern coding where the HTML and JavaScript are kept separate then you will have one piece of HTML for each ad block (where the HTML is nearly identical for each) and one block of JavaScript at the bottom of the page shared between all of the ads. With a responsive design you will also not know how big each ad will be as you will be relying on the ad service to work out the space available for each ad and to display whatever size ad will fit for that particular visitor.

At the time of writing, this site uses Google AdSense's responsive ad code with one <ins> block to identify each available ad space and a single external script call to Google's responsive ad code followed by three JavaScript push statements to identify that there are three ad blocks to be filled. On larger screens the ads display with one horizontally across the top of the content and two vertically one above the other down the side of the content. As the viewport becomes smaller the ad across the top becomes smaller and once the width becomes to narrow to properly fit the ads alongside the content those ads get moved to the bottom where they then display horizontally below the content. The standard SwitchAd sizes would have the potential to fit in either of the second and third spots provided they haven't moved under the content or in the top spot provided that the viewport is wide enough for the ad to fit there. There is no way though that the Google AdSense code can be made to fit in their form when signing up for an account (or subsequently for that matter).

The manager who had approached me in the first place had asked me to contact him once I had signed up - which I did. I also advised him of the AdSense code that I am using on each of my sites (which is identical across all of the pages on a site and which differs only in the slot numbers between this site and the other sites where I use it. I got no further response from the marketing manager.

A couple of days later having received no response from the marketing manager who first approached me and having received a welcome email from an account manager when I first signed up, I decided to ask the account manager how to get the code to set up their ad service.

A couple of days later having still received no response from either the marketing manager or the account manager, I decided to make one last attempt at getting this ad service set up and raised a support request asking for help. I got a reply back the following day stating that to set up ads I needed to fill out the ad block form on their site for each ad block I wanted to use with their service and that their code makes no provision for testing if the selected spot is big enough to display the ad or not. The suggestion was that I fill out the form and that if they had an ad available to fill the ad slot it would display at the predefined fixed size (whether it would actually fit or not and that the AdSense fallback should responsively fill the slot with an ad that does fit if they didn't have an ad to display there.

I decided to at least try their ad unit generator to see what code it produced and picked the ad slot most likely to have space available for a specific sized ad. I posted the HTML placeholder code for that block into their generator and pressed the button to generate the code (knowing that as the code I posted did not include the JavaScript - because their form had nowhere to post it - that the resultant code was unlikely to work). The code that was generated consisted of placeholder HTML and an external JavaScript. No information was provided as to how to actually use the generated code. Presumably the placeholder HTML goes in place of the original placeholder HTML and the script gets attached to the bottom of the page where all JavaScript goes but what changes to make to the existing AdSense JavaScript to get it to remove one of the push() statements given that there would be one fewer AdSense ads in the page if the SwitchAds ad displayed was not provided - meaning that their script would break the existing AdSense script.

As the code that their site generates for the ads is unusable on any of my web sites, I am unable to advise how well the ad service actually works. The only way I can think of where I could incorporate this service into my pages would be if it were not switching out the AdSense ads but instead simply adding an additional ad next to or above the AdSense ones. This would be done by having the code replace nothing (or an empty div tag if their generator insists on having code to replace. Of course in a smaller viewport the space available in the page might be smaller than the ad they are trying to display so that the ad would only be partly visible in that instance so even that wouldn't be ideal - so you'd need to dynamically add their JavaScript only when the ad slot is actually big enough for their ad to fit. Since there are plenty of other advertising services around that can do that without the extra code for the ad switching it seems rather pointless to use this particular service in that way.

My response to the answer that I got to the support request that I had raised was to ask what code I needed to add to the generated code to update the existing JavaScript when there are fewer AdSense ads due to one of their ads taking an ad slot. I also asked that if they were unable to provide such code that they delete the account I had set up with them. Based on my experience with this service I am not holding my breath waiting for the account to be deleted.

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