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Google Is Launching Yet Another Way to Stuff Websites With Ads

Don't think of the new "side rails" as ads. Think of them more like uninvited new friends.

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A happy woman looking at a computer, with the word "Ads!" hovering above her
Photo: LightField Studios (Shutterstock)

Sure, the internet is great, but it has a serious flaw. There just aren’t enough ads. If you’re anything like me, you spend your time online casting your eyes across the screen, desperately hoping for another way to turn your attention into advertising revenue. At last, there’s some good news on that front, thanks to our hardworking friends in the tech industry. Starting December 23rd, Google is launching a new ad format called “side rails” that will show up on the sides of webpages and keep you company as you scroll.

“Today, we’re announcing a new ad format called side rails,” Google announced on a help page for web developers. “Side rails are ads that stick to the sides of your pages when they’re viewed on widescreen devices, such as desktops.”

Side rails will start appearing automatically on websites that have certain settings enabled in the Google AdSense service. They’re a fun, very welcome addition to those ads that pop-up on the top or bottom of a webpage and follow you around, which are called “anchor ads.”

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I know what you’re thinking. “Those anchor ads are great! I love the way they take up space on my screen and protect me from seeing the content I clicked on. I just wish they showed up in more places.” Well your prayers have been answered, and we’re finally getting more of them.

There are already ads that show up on the sides of webpages that often get called side rails, but the difference with Google’s iteration is these are a bit more dynamic, and as you scroll down they’ll come along with you for the ride, rather than staying in one place as you scroll.

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The best part is you only have to wait a few more weeks to see them, because Santa is bringing the side rails just in time for Christmas. It’s an advertising miracle.