How can I reduce Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) from ads?

We’ve made this nice and easy! First, make sure you're running the AdThrive Ads plugin version 1.0.45 and higher.

Click on "AdThrive" in your WordPress dashboard sidebar to get to the AdThrive Ads plugin settings page:

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Then simply check the box next to “Enable solution to reduce ad-related CLS” on the plugin settings page, clear your site’s cache, and you’re all set!

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Your CLS score should improve immediately, though it may take a few days for this to be reflected in the various Core Web Vitals measurement tools.

This setting does two crucial things:

First, it moves our ad insertion from a third-party request to live directly on the page via the plugin. This allows us to reserve space for ads as the page is being rendered, reducing ad-related CLS issues.

Second, it will apply a styling update to your ad spaces, setting a minimum height, to reduce page shift when ads refresh and, potentially, a different ad size serves in the ad slot.

Note: If you are currently running a beta version of the AdThrive Ads plugin, reach out to us for guidance on how to transition to this new release.

How much will this solution improve my CLS score?

By turning on our CLS solution today, your site should get an immediate reduction in ad-related layout shift.

Then, you should see your score continue to improve over the coming weeks.

The most recent version of Chrome (Chrome 89) currently counts some elements toward CLS which shouldn’t be considered, including sticky video players and sticky footer ads. Google is planning to release an update to Chrome in mid-April (Chrome 90), which should fix these issues and cause your CLS score to improve, as Chrome users update to the new version.

With our plugin solution, and as more users update to Chrome 90, your ads should have a minimal or no impact on your CLS score. If you’ve additionally optimized your site to solve any non-ad CLS issues, you should have no problem achieving a CLS score in the “good” range!

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Occasionally, ads that are larger than standard sizes may serve and cause some shift. In these cases, we think the increased revenue from these infrequent, larger ads is worth the trade-off. If you request it, we can turn off these ads from serving on your site. But the goal is to get into the “Good” range, not to achieve a perfect zero score — once you’re under 0.1, Google has said that there’s no bonus for further score improvements.

Will this CLS solution affect my RPM?

We’ve performed extensive testing to ensure that your RPM and take-home revenue will not be negatively impacted by this solution! 

How can I check my CLS score?

Before testing, you’ll need to clear your site’s cache and give your site some time to allow the cache to rebuild. This step is crucial as your scores can be volatile until this process is done. We recommend waiting at least a day or two before testing for the best results.

The most immediate way to see the change in your Core Web Vitals is through Cloudflare. If you’re a Cloudflare user, you can enable their Browser Insights and see your Core Web Vitals performance in real time!

Google Search Console is another great resource, as it will give you a general idea of how pages are performing for CLS across your site. Search Console shows daily Core Web Vitals metrics as recently as two days in the past, so after enabling our CLS solution in the plugin, check back in a few days to start seeing the improvement to your CLS scores in Search Console.

You can also head to PageSpeed Insights to test individual pages and get specific details on what is affecting your Core Web Vitals scores. Your field data (which reflects your readers’ actual experience) should improve slowly, day by day, as it shows your average score over the past 28 days.

I’m still noticing some ad-related CLS issues affecting my score.

After the Chrome 90 update, if you still see CLS issues that you believe are related to your ads, feel free to reach out to us! Every site’s ad layout is different so your specific ad setup may benefit from some customizations that our team is happy to help with. 

What else can I do to improve my CLS score?

After enabling our solution for ad-related CLS, you should see a marked improvement in your CLS score. But you may have other elements on your site other than ads that are causing CLS issues.

Check out our four-step playbook for how to diagnose and improve Core Web Vitals on your site, to identify and fix any additional CLS offenders.

As you test different pages on your site and work to improve CLS, focus first on mobile experience and scores. Google emphasizes mobile, so prioritize your optimizations for mobile and then desktop.

I see a CLS option on my dashboard’s Ad Preferences page — what does that do?

The Ad Preferences option to reduce CLS from ads applies a minimum height to ad spaces on your site, after the ad code requests are made. 

The CLS setting within the AdThrive Ads plugin reserves space for your ads immediately on page load. If you enable the CLS setting within the AdThrive plugin, it will override the Ad Preferences option — so it won’t matter if you have the Ad Preferences CLS option toggled on or off.

If you’re not running the AdThrive Ads WordPress plugin, you can use the Ad Preferences setting to create minimum heights for your ad spaces for now. We are working on additional ad code enhancements to further solve ad-related CLS issues for sites not running our plugin.

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