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Google AdSense Forum

Alternate ads should not "mimic" adsense
What does this mean in practice?

 2:21 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

First, just to say this is my first post on this board, and I've gained a great deal of info from being a lurker for a year or so. Thanks to everyone who contributes.

I've been using adsense for about two years now, very happily. I recently decided to change my alternate ads, because although they were showing up in my logs as being displayed to visitors, I wasn't getting many clicks. I used to use a graphic ad for a book in the Amazon affiliate program, but I decided to change to some text ads, and made them in a similar style to Google.

Now, I am a bit confused about the rules for alternate ads. I know they can't be contextual and there's no problem there as my ads are fixed on the same product all the time. However, what about the appearance? The adsense TOS says that:

"our policy does not permit Google ads to be displayed on the same website as ads that mimic or attempt to be associated with Google ads. We do allow affiliate or limited-text links."

So, my ads are affiliate ads, but they are also mimicking google ads because I have produced a text ad in a similar style to adsense. Is that OK? I only have one adsense block per page, but I also have an adlink on each page, and so if the alternate ads appeared they would be on the same page as an adlink (assuming that there were some ads available for the adlink, that is - or can I assume that when there are no ads for the adblock there will be none for the adlink?!)

I hope that makes sense, and I would be very grateful for any ideas. I am one of those people who wants to take absolutely no risks whatsoever, and so I want to stick to every TOS rule I can find!



 2:46 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

The Program Policies prohibits "ads throughout the site that mimic Google ads or otherwise appear to be associated with Google on your site". And yet you have ads that mimic Google ads on your site.

Why not simply set up a text ad that does NOT mimic Google's format? Why go out of your way to do exactly what they don't want you to do?


 2:55 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Or why not simply use affiliate ads that are image-based?

Alternate ads that mimic Google Adsense ads may eventually get you banned from Adsense.


 3:10 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies (although I'm slightly disappointed I didn't get a fluffier welcome - I'm honestly not trying to break any rules here). I have already removed my alternate ads... I didn't go out of my way to break the TOS, I hope that it was clear from my first message that I want to stick to the rules EXACTLY.

I think I was also confused by another thread where people were asking what the adsense font was. Having checked that thread I now realise it was so that they could change the font of their whole site to match the adsense font, not the font of their alternate ads. My mistake.

So what do you think would qualify as a text ad that doesn't mimic adsense? Different font, different size text? I'm really puzzled as to where the line is between a text ad that mimics adsense and one that doesn't. I've used image ads in the past but their CTR is pretty low as a rule.


 3:37 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

I didn't get a fluffier welcome

Sorry for that, welcome to WW Hedgehog!

You have a good point there for I am at a loss too how another text ad would not mimic adsense! The style is quite standard: Title-body-url, I think Google should answer this one.


 3:46 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks Hobbs! I didn't mean to complain about anything, it's just that I thought I had a legitimate question and was a bit surprised when the first posts seemed to say that I was clearly in the wrong.

It has also occurred to me just now that, in fact, the way I have the alternate ads set up means that they don't lead to Amazon directly, they actually lead to another page on my site which describes and reviews a particular book. I wonder if this changes anything? I'm still confused!


 5:40 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

I didn't mean to bite your head off but you said outright that your text ads were mimicking AdSense, so it seemed like you had already answered your own question.

Text ads in general are fine and I don't think there's a specific "line" anyone could tell you not to cross. Just don't emulate the AdSense heading-text-URL format (however you have that customized for your site). There's an enormous number of other ways to insert text links. Product images are also very good to include, when relevant.


 6:54 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think you should clearly off-set your ads from any other ad-like list of links.

I had my adsense on a column beneath some other links with brief descriptions (like adsense). These links were not paid for nor were they ads for anything (they were informational only).

This, however, was not taken lightly by Google, who informed me that even though they were not ads they were "like ads."

I took the links down and put them on the other side of the page and everything was ok. I was never threatened with being taken off the adsense program or anything though, just asked to take them down.



 8:06 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks everyone for your replies. Sorry if I was over-sensitive - you're right Jomaxx to say I basically asnwered my own question, I think I was just confused as to how strict this policy was.

I've now changed the alternate ads to something similar to my old style of ads, ie: an image and some text alongside, so they look nothing like adsense. What I had done with the text ads was a leaderboard with the same font as adsense and a similar layout, but no URLs displayed, and of course no "Ads by Google", they were just labelled as ads. The text was a slightly different size as well.

So, I guess if I was working for Google and saw my old alternate ads I might think they were mimicking adsense, and that's not a chance I want to take, so the new ads will stay.


 7:30 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I had my adsense on a column beneath some other links with brief descriptions (like adsense). These links were not paid for nor were they ads for anything (they were informational only).


If I am interpreting your description correctly, a lot of sites would be in violation. I have seen this type of "blending" taken to an extreme (have been doing it myself lately).

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