First, Google is trying to devalue sites that are top heavy with ads as most people hate ads and they get in the way of getting to the information your visitors come to your site to find.
Second, Google wants to see relevant content above the fold. We all know the SEO is about Relevancy and Authority, and you can't be relevant for a topic (keyword) if you are top-heavy with ads.
How do you know if you have too much of the wrong thing on your site? Open your site and look at the top 1/3 of the page before you start scrolling. This should be the page header with logo and menu. The second 2/3s should be the content you want to convey to your visitors with only a third of that possibly dedicated to ads.
Where to Put Your Content and Ads
However, this is how I would approach this page.
Top 1/3 is logo and menu. The rest of this page above the fold dedicated to the topic getting the people involved in the content of your page. Then when they start to scroll down to [read more], you immediately place an ad there.
With your visitors attention on scrolling to read more, hey will be focused entirely on the ad being placed, and then back to your content.
This will be a much better user experience for your visitors and will keep you for being penalized by Google.
For content on the sides of your pages, again, above the fold have relevant supportive content to what is on the main page, and then below the fold, you can place an ad banner. If you must place the ad above the fold, be sure to keep it small compared to the content. Don't have 3-4 ad banners running and little content.
Remember, Google wants to send people to sites that are relevant to what they are searching for. That is how Google keeps people coming back to use their search engine. So relevant, relevant, relevant, especially above the fold or you could get penalized and lose rankings.
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