Google AdSense has announced that it will discontinue the link unit ad format on March 10, 2021. In this article, you will learn if and to what extent your ad setup will be affected.

If you need to take any action in light of this change, you can still find a few suggestions for similar ads as an alternative to this deprecated AdSense format.

After AdSense has disabled the link units, you can no longer create new ads from this type.

Also, AdSense will rename existing ads of this format. Expect to find [formerly link ad unit] at the ad unit name’s end. This renaming applies to both responsive and fixed-size AdSense link units.

Example AdSense link ads
Example of a Google AdSense link unit ad

If you have used responsive link units so far, AdSense will automatically convert them to standard display ads.

So AdSense ads will still appear, but they will look different than before.

If you have integrated fixed-sized link units (e.g., 200×90) into your website, you should find a replacement. AdSense will not fill them with in the future. Consequently, they will stay blank, and you won’t earn any revenues with them.

However, if you integrate these ads with Advanced Ads using the AdSense Ad type, the plugin will automatically convert them into responsive display ads. As a result, ads will keep on showing up but the look might be different.

The necessary conversion of the ad format causes a change in the layout.

Therefore, you should check if display ads are the most suitable format for you or if you’d better try something else.

Different AdSense formats

AdSense offers other ad formats than display ads. For example, you can replace link units embedded in articles with native In Article ads.

If these ad units are at the end of your posts, the matched content block is a good alternative. Here, the ads are arranged together with recommendations for other posts on your website in a grid.

AdSense matched content ad
Example of a matched content ad unit

Other ad networks

Unfortunately, Google AdSense’s native ad formats and Matched Content block don’t come very close to link units’ look and feel. You could find a better solution with other ad networks. For example, media.net offers a similar keyword-driven ad unit.

media.net text link ad unit
Example of an ad unit from media.net

Use the AdSense reports to analyze the performance of your AdSense link units. This data will give you a reasonable basis to compare Google AdSense with different ad networks.

Text links are a very popular and high converting ad format in affiliate marketing. However, since you usually get revenue for sales and leads instead of clicks or impressions, this type of monetization does not work on every website.

If you find suitable affiliate programs for your content, using text links can be very lucrative, and I would recommend you give them a try.

The use of text links in affiliate marketing offers you much flexibility in the integration of the ads. On the one hand, you can usually use deep links and adjust the link target so that the users, for example, come directly to the product that you are promoting and do not land on a home page of the respective store.

Google AdSense link unit alternative
Example of a Google AdSense alternative based on affiliate text links

On the other hand, you are very free to implement these links. You can decide on the anchor texts and adapt the layout of these text links to your website better than is possible with banner advertising.