Issue #4 : Late December 2021

Issue #4 : Late December 2021
Please enjoy my seasonal bad snow effect. It's tradition

The end of the year is approaching fast, but I have time to squeeze in one more issues of Powered by Ads before Big Ben Bongs*. I'll try to keep this one brief - I am sure that lots of you are keen to get finished up and do some panic shopping and those not celebrating Christmas have plenty to do thanks to everyone wanting to take time off at the same time.

Before I crack on with the essential publisher news, can I just say a big thank you for reading the last few issues. I've really enjoyed writing these updates, but I'd feel daft doing so if no-one read them. Keep responding and sharing. I have exciting things planned to grow this idea next year. Remember, you can view all issues online at

*It's a Brit thing

In this issue...

(just scroll down and read the bits that interest you)

  • Poll results : Things aren't looking good for the future of AMP
  • Meta offers up "Professional Mode" for Facebook
  • Critical vulnerability in popular WordPress plugin
  • TikTok offers monetisation as it becomes "Bigger than Google"
  • Google gives additional guidance around UGC
  • Ad Vendors still tracking users who opt out
  • AOP proposes protocol for fair link attribution
  • AdSense deactivating inactive accounts
  • No dumb questions
  • More stories in short
  • Until next year...

Poll results : Things aren't looking good for the future of AMP

Last issue I asked the question "Will you be investing in AMP content in 2022?" and got a great response. A whole hearted thank you to everyone who took time to answer. The results are pretty conclusive: Publishers don't currently have much confidence in AMP.


The comments you left wouldn't have brought much more joy to the AMP project either: "I hope AMP will fade away as fast as possible" and "So much dev work for no apparent reason" were fairly typical responses.

AMP is still clearly working well for some though. Amongst the 17% who said they were still investing in AMP next year included one publisher with a much more positive view "Mobile traffic requesting AMP formatted pages is about 40% of my total"

Meta offers up "Professional Mode" for Facebook

In a nod to the continued growth of the creator economy, Facebook have rolled out a new "Professional Mode" that brings features to profiles that were previously only supported by pages. This first version of Professional Mode is focused around monetising video content through Reels and is a clear response to the stratospheric rise of TikTok. Professional Mode is currently only available to US users. More details here.

I'm starting to feel like "Things WordPress users should worry about" could be a regular feature here. Hardly surprising considering the size and complexity of the project, but it's still a worry. This week we have news that the "All in One SEO" plugin, which has a reported 3+ Million downloads, has two severe vulnerabilities.

Both vulnerabilities require users to have a registered account on the site, but this could be as low as a subscriber/commenter user. One vulnerability allows the user to access functionality reserved for higher level users, the other to directly read database contents.  Time to get patching again. More about it here.

TikTok offers monetisation as it becomes "Bigger than Google"

Speaking of ByteDance's social media giant, we have two pieces of news from camp TikTok this issue.

The first is the introduction of a new way for TikTokkers to monetise their audience through tips. Followers can show their adoration and appreciation by now leaving tips of $5-$15 on a video. The creator receives the full amount of the tip, after a fee is taken for the Stripe transaction. More

The other news will perhaps come as a greater surprise to those who haven't been following the growth of TikTok. According to Cloudflare, who analyse traffic through their free DNS Service, TikTok overtook Google to become the most visited domain on the internet in 2021. What a time to be alive. More

Google gives additional guidance around UGC

Google Publisher Policy applies to all content served near ads, whether it is editorial or user-generated. Unsurprisingly then, User Generated Content (UGC) is the cause of a significant proportion of policy issues experienced by publishers and the "Wasn't me defence" doesn't provide much protection when this happens. Google has put out some slightly updated guidance around UGC this month and presented it as an infographic for maximum illegibility. I can't see that the new guidance really contains anything that is truly new, but the increased emphasis on publishing content policies is worth drawing attention to. Feast your eyes here.

Ad Vendors still tracking users who opt out

OK, this really gets my goat. The ad industry has enough trust issues without vendors pulling tricks like this. No wonder we lose so much money to ad blockers.

Research, reported on TechCrunch, suggests some ad tech companies are ignoring TCF strings and continuing to track users who say no to tracking. Little wonder TCF is under the regulatory spotlight already. TechCrunch have more details.

A proposal from the UK's Association of Online Publishers could make attribution link outreach a whole lot easier. The AOP represents online publishers as diverse as Vice and the BBC who's reach goes far beyond UK borders. The aim of the proposal is for those originating a story to get fair attribution through followed links.  The protocol would give a standard way to make contact and see such attribution. Details here.

AdSense deactivating inactive accounts

I've see a few reports that Google are doing another round on inactive account deactivations. These seem to happen in batches as part of a periodic clear-out. This can occasionally catch publishers by surprise: They switch to using a managed service provider then their AdSense account ends up deactivated, limiting their options in the future.

The cut-off period seems to be six months of inactivity (no earnings generated). I'd always advise keeping at least one adunit running on adsense, even if just on a side project. That way you can avoid deactivations and always have a fallback option ready to traffic should you need it.

No dumb questions

Have a question relating to Ads or Web Publishing and don't know who to ask? Ask it here without judgement. I'll pick out some interesting ones and either answer them myself or find someone who can.

Click to answer

Other stories of interest that I have kept short:

  • IAB Released new Native Advertising Guide. Download it
  • Gravatar breach exposes details of 167 million users. More
  • OpenX fined for targeting children with ads. More
  • 1.6 Million WordPress sites targeted dues to Epsilon framework weakness. More

Until next year

That's me done. I'm off to cram in another mince pie and wrap some presents. I'll be back in the new year where I'll be kicking off with some news close to home.

Happy Christmas to those who celebrate it, and here is to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2022 for all!