Google AdSense Updates Program Policies & Competitive Ads Policy

Google AdSense updated their program policies today. While most of it was simply clarifying or officially making changes to policies (such as images next to ad units) they also made one major change to publishers who also use ad networks or in-house advertising with ad units that resemble AdSense ad units, or those who do ad rotation with AdSense and another ad network such as the Yahoo Publisher Network. And this could result in some unhappy webmasters who will need to make changes to their sites running AdSense as a result.

First off, AdSense added some basic policy changes, including the use of images next to ad units as well as increasing the number of referral ad units that a publisher can place on a site. If you want to get the lowdown on all the changes and their significance, I did a complete analysis on JenSense.

More significant is the change they made to the Competitive Ads & Services section of the policies. Now, running anything in an ad unit that resembles the AdSense ad unit appearing anywhere on the same site is against the terms. This means those publishers running AdSense in rotation with Yahoo Publisher Network, for example, using the same color palette for both would now be in violation of the policies. And even non-contextually targeted ads that are in an ad unit like AdSense would not be allowed.

The other major change is that this policy applies to the entire site, not just the page and actual page view that the ad is appearing on. This change could affect a significant number of publishers, especially those who do A/B testing (like myself) as well as those who have anything else anywhere on the site that resembles AdSense. I did a much more detailed analysis on this issue here.

Because Google is such a dominating force in contextual advertising, not to mention their sheer market share of publishers, they can pull off this change. However, I definitely expect to hear some griping from publishers as they make changes to their sites to be within compliance.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display | Google: AdSense

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  • http://blog.outer-court.com Philipp Lenssen

    > More significant is the change they made to
    > the Competitive Ads & Services section of
    > the policies. Now, running anything in an
    > ad unit that resembles the AdSense ad unit
    > appearing anywhere on the same site is against
    > the terms.

    I checked the Google cache of their program policy and while they reworded some parts, I don’t see the change you describe… quote from their old version (last updated March 14, 2006, according to Google):

    “We do not permit Google ads or search boxes accessing Google search services to be published on web pages that also contain what could be considered competing ads or services. (…) This would also include ads throughout the site that mimic Google ads or otherwise appear to be associated with Google on your site. Although you may sell ads directly on your site, it is your responsibility to ensure these ads do not mimic Google ads. If you have elected to receive Google search services, this would include other search services on the same site and non-Google query-targeted ads.”

    The reworded version (last updated January 2007) reads:

    “In order to prevent user confusion, we do not permit Google ads or search boxes to be published on websites that also contain other ads or services formatted to use the same layout and colors as the Google ads or search boxes on that site. Although you may sell ads directly on your site, it is your responsibility to ensure these ads cannot be confused with Google ads.”

    If anything, it sounds like they loosened control a bit by removing the general “what could be considered competing ads or services” intro, replacing it with a clarifying that their main point is to “prevent user confusion” of ads using the “same layout and colors” as Google ads.

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