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Complete analysis of new AdSense Terms, Policies & FAQ
Should spammers be worried about these new changes?

 3:30 am on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, Google has definitely brought some major changes with their new terms, policies and FAQ.

The biggest concern? The following statement that is now listed under “site may not include”:

Deceptive or manipulative content or construction to improve your site's search engine ranking, e.g., your site's PageRank

Eyes opened wide? Good, because we start off with the much drier Terms ;)

Introduction & 1. Program Participation

They have removed that sites must adhere to the Program FAQ when you agree to the terms. Instead, they state that the description of the program can be found on the FAQ page.

They also added a clause about multiple accounts, stating they are permitted with explicit written (or email) permission from AdSense.

2. Implementation; Ad Placement.
Slight change made about ad sizes offered from time to time by Google. This could mean that there might be new sizes in the future as well.

4. Program FAQ.

This section has been completely eliminated.

4. Parties' Responsibilities.

Again, reference to the FAQ has been eliminated, but still states that you must be compliant with the Program Policies

5. Prohibited Uses.

Minor references to the FAQ has been eliminated.

Displaying AdSense on search result pages has been removed as being prohibited.

6. Termination; Cancellation.

Again, another reference to the FAQ has been removed.

Reference to section numbers has been changed, since one numbered section has been removed.

The need to remove all AdSense javascript within an hour after account termination has been removed.

7. Confidentiality.

Removal of part of the section regarding disclosing stats for income tax reasons.

10. Limitations of Liability; Force Majeure.

An interesting addition regarding possible breach of intellectual propery rights and proprietary interests with the program.

11. Payment

Again, several removals for FAQ references, including that the timing and delivery of the checks as per the FAQ. But they have added a new reference to the FAQ. They have added a new reference that any past due payment owing on Adwords will come out of AdSense earnings before checks are sent. This was previously mentioned in the FAQ, so it has been added here, since the publishers are no longer agreeing to the FAQ when agreeing to the terms.

14. Your Obligation to Indemnify

New additions, basically stating you can’t sue Google for loss of income, expenses, damages, reasonable legal fees. Anyone who entertains the thought of suing AdSense for whatever reason should be sure to read this section, since it spells out what you agree in regards to legal action when you agree to the terms.

15. Information Rights.

Includes reference that your site information can be shared with a third party, but they cannot be responsible with what a third party may do with that information.

16. Miscellaneous.

States you agree with the new terms by agreeing online, or with continued use of the AdSense program.

Whew! That’s it for the new terms.

Now for the new Policies!

Account Transferability

This is a brand new section. Basically states you can’t sell an AdSense account. If you sell your site, you would have to cancel your account, and the new owner opens a new one. I am wondering if this is to prevent people who have been suspended from purchasing a site with an active account.

Ad Placement

Added that multiple ad units are allowed per page, up from the previous wording of single ad units.
Multiple ad units may be displayed on each Web site page, but no ad unit shall contain any advertisement in common with any other ad unit.

AdSenseAdvisor has already commented on this confusing issue:
The multiple ads language is confusing, I agree. At this point, there's no way to assure that ads won't be double-served if two layouts are on the same page. So multiple ad layouts on a page are still not allowed... I think the language is there so that we have room to introduce new features as we move forward.

The statement that ads are not allowed on search result pages has been removed, which is inline with the terms change.


Finally, we have official confirmation on what you can call ads. They now say that while publishers cannot encourage visitors to click the ads, they can be referred to as "sponsored links" or "advertisements."


Dutch, Portuguese and Japanese has been added to the list of languages.

Personal Pages

New changes made to prevent people from applying with a “clean” site and then placing it on a personal blog page. Now, Ads shall not be placed on personal pages or chat sites without Google's prior written consent.

Site policies

Sites may not include:
Deceptive or manipulative content or construction to improve your site's search engine ranking, e.g., your site's PageRank

This is a HUGE change, IMO. This will probably get some of the spammers worried - just what exactly would this cover? Normal SEO? Or just the real black hat stuff? Should publishers be paranoid?

That’s it for the Policies.

Now for the FAQ.

Program Basics Section

1. What is Google AdSense?

Small reference to the Policies removed.

3. . Can I filter which ads are displayed on my site?

This has been added:
Please note that Google does not commit that all ads for the websites that you add to your URL filter list or ads containing objectionable content will be prevented from display on your site.

I wonder if the filter isn’t working as well as it should, and also if more adult content ads are sneaking through. But objectionable content can often be in the eye of the beholder and what one publisher feels is fine could be offensive to another.

7. Can I cancel my Google AdSense account?

Reference to the terms for complete termination information has been added.

They also added that they will not pay out on earnings of less than $1.00.

8. How do you prevent click and page impression spam?

New addition of “These prohibited methods include but are not limited to: This includes encouraging users to click on the ads or to visit the advertisers' sites as well as labeling the ads with text other than "sponsored links" or "advertisements." Which is inline with what was added to the Policies.

9. Can I display ads on search results pages?

It is now permissible for all publishers to include ads on search results (previously it was only for publishers who asked for permission during the testing process).

4. Are non-English websites eligible for Google AdSense?

Added new language support.

5. Can I sign up if I am already a part of an ad network?

Reference to the multiple ads allowed per page as long as the ads are not the same.

6. Can I sign up for more than one account?

Information on contacting AdSense Support for multiple accounts.

Payments Section

1. How much will I earn through this program?

Reference that payments are in accordance to the terms.

4. When do I get paid?

Now states that payments will be mailed “approximately 30 days after the end of each calendar month”, while it previously was “within”.

States full payment terms can be found in the Terms.

Format Section

1. What are the layout options for ads on my web pages?

Reference made that multiple ad formats are available, up from the four that were previously available.

3. Can I display more than one set of AdWords ads on a web page?
Again the change to “Multiple ad units may be displayed on each Web site page, but no ad unit can contain any advertisement in common with any other ad unit.”

My Account Section

9. How do I know the URLs of the ads on my site?

Reference made to the new googleadservices.com URL for AdSense/Adwords, which is used for conversion tracking.

Also includes more detailed instructions on how to get the URLs of the ads.

11. How do I cancel my account?

Added that they do not pay out for earnings under $1.00

13. How do I change my display language?

This section has been added. I think it is self explanatory ;)

Privacy and SecuritySection

2. What does Google do with my personal information?

Again, references to this mysterious third party. “Please note that Google may disclose to third parties personally identifiable information about you for the purpose of approving and enabling your participation in the AdSense Program as described in the Terms and Conditions.” I really wonder who this third party is, or if it is there for future use.


Now, for a possible conspiracy theory ;)

Sites cannot include: Deceptive or manipulative content or construction to improve your site's search engine ranking, e.g., your site's PageRank. What if the third party they can share publisher's information with is actually the regular Google serp team? Could running AdSense then lead to having a site run-through with a hand edit by the natural serps and possibly be booted out of the Google index?

It is important to note that the FAQ is no longer binding, since it is not a part of the AdSense terms. And it is the FAQ that has always said Participating in Google AdSense does not affect your site's rank in Google search results. Google AdSense will not affect the search results we deliver. Google believes strongly in freedom of expression and therefore offers broad access to content across the web. Our search results are unbiased by our relationships with paying advertisers and publishers. We will continue to show search results according to our PageRank technology.

When agreeing to the terms, you state they can share information with third parties for the purpose of enabling and approving your participation in the Program. Is it a big stretch that AdSense could be discussing a publisher's website engaging in black hat techniques with the natural serp team, under the guise of finding out what could be done to make the site compliant with the "Deceptive or manipulative content" aspect in the policies?

Now, would Google do this? It is probably a longshot, but it did come to mind when wondering who exactly this "third party" is that has been referenced so many times in the changes, and because I was analyzing all three documents, I am probably the only one who would put two and two together. And conspiracy theories always make for interesting threads, especially when they have absolutely nothing to do with checks ;)

I think this has got to be the most comprehensive analysis I have had to do to date, I hope you all enjoy the run-down of the changes without having to hunt them out yourselves.



 3:42 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Mario - What's a "breadcrumb"?

Well done Jenstar!


 4:46 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is an example of a breadcrumb :

Top > Travel > Travel Agents

or as you see at the top of this page :

Home / Forums Index / The Marketing World / Google AdSense /


 4:58 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

They pulled me up on putting the ads below a breadcrumb but that was all.

What's wrong with putting an ad below a breadcrumb?


 5:04 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Are you allowed to have affiliate ads on the same pages as adsense?


 5:22 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Jen...great summary as usual. Would think third party statement is for cheque processing. Not as interesting as the conspiracy theory though:)


 5:51 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

So what about the mediapartnersbot then? My niche search engines disallow all robots from accessing the search url through robots.txt. Do i need to explicitly allow mediapartners bot to crawl the serps in order to deliver relevant ads?

According to the Adsense FAQ:

Our ability to target ads to your site depends on the content and structure of your site. Here are some basic guidelines for optimizing your site:

If you have a robots.txt file, you'll need to remove it or add the following two lines to your robots.txt to allow our content bot to crawl your site:

User-agent: Mediapartners-Google*


 6:08 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Great work Jenstar!

I'm also a bit worried about the very general language about text ads. In the past they said limited text ads were fine as long as they didn't mimic the Google ads. (My current non-Adsense text ads are plain text, no color/box/decoration) It's not clear to me whether this policy has now changed or what...

I wish they could be more explicit with examples or something...


 7:01 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

graywolf wrote:
Are you allowed to have affiliate ads on the same pages as adsense?



 7:34 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Don't you think that Google forgotten to add:

"Webmaster no longer need to be afraid of fraudulant clicks, because we have improved our algorithms. Now webmasters can concentrate on content creation".



 7:39 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks kindly for the thoughtful analyses. The new termsof contract scared me until I read your opinions.


 7:45 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

I do have to say the part about "we can share your personally identifiable information with a third party, who then can basically do whatever they want with it and we aren't responsible" is a bit unnerving. If they specified a little bit about what that entailed, I might feel better.

Doesn't that seem to say, "We can give your social security number, name, phone, and address to some company and if they publish it in the New York Times, too bad for you?"

(Oh, almost forgot: once again, HUGE thanks to Jenstar for the synopsis.)

I'm also just wondering what is "deceptive/SEO" or whatever. Is using mod_rewrite to create easier/shorter URL's deceptive (e.g. [blahblah...] instead of [blahblah...]
? I mean, it's somewhat deceptive, in the sense that it makes you think something is a separate HTML page in a directory structure rather than a single CGI script. Do you think that's included?

And what about people who write free CGI/PHP/JavaScript scripts or Flash games, images, wallpapers, etc, and give them away with the requirement of a backlink? Is that a way to manipulate one's pagerank?

I'm sure Google doesn't mean things like that -- I just wonder if anyone else thought it could be interpreted this way.



 7:59 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm also a bit worried about the very general language about text ads...

This is my big concern too. We have sponsor ads on our site that are text links, but there is no way that they could be confused with the google ads. They don't look similar and they are clearly identified. Does the new TOS mean we can't place google ads on the same pages where we have our own sponsor text links?


 8:24 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

What's wrong with putting an ad below a breadcrumb?

I think they thought they were too close together is all.


 8:29 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Excellent, The new wide skyscraper (160 x 600) displays up to 5 ads on a page. This seems to be the only format allowing 5 adverts instead of 4.

I wonder if this will have any effect on income from Adsense.


 8:34 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Site may not include... Deceptive or manipulative content or construction to improve your site's search engine ranking, e.g., your site's PageRank

I can see why Google want to have something like this in their policies, but this language is so vague as to be meaningless. That description could easily be applied to META tags, or to ensuring that your keywords appear in the <TITLE> and <H1> tags, or to having a link exchange page. They seem to be relying on the fact that the word "manipulate" has a generally negative connotation to signal that they are referring to "bad stuff".

On the other hand, I still don't see anything else about how you GET your traffic. What if I spam people? What if I run a banner for "free Paris Hilton video" and link it to my page about data recovery? What if I have that same page load as an exit popup and do a major run-of-network campaign? I can't imagine that Google would tolerate that.

[edited by: jomaxx at 8:50 pm (utc) on Feb. 20, 2004]


 8:43 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Site may not include... Deceptive or manipulative content or construction to improve your site's search engine ranking, e.g., your site's PageRank

Another question: What if one disallows googlebot from accessing their deceptive or manipulative content and let the other bots crawl it? What if the traffic comes from other engines than google? You wouldn't be "spamming" google. Nothing to complain then, or ...? And still money for Google's AdWords advertizers. Doh!


 8:56 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well they say "search engine ranking", not "Google ranking".


 9:01 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

>"search engine ranking", not "Google ranking"

And what about a little conspiracy? ;)


 8:58 pm on Feb 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hello and thanks in advance:

We had to go throught the new agreement and this part is not that clear:


In addition, You agree that while You may display more than one (1) Ad Unit
on each Site Web page, but no Ad Unit shall contain any advertisement in
common with any other Ad Unit. You also agree not to display any other
text-based or content-targeted
advertisement(s) on the same Web page in connection with which an Ad Unit or
any Ad is displayed.

The following are my questions:

1) Before we were not allowed to show more than 1 ad on the same page but now we can right?

2) what this means exactly?
"but no Ad Unit shall contain any advertisement in
common with any other Ad Unit"

3)Before we could display adsense ads along with other other companie ads (i.e. **** etc...)
Can't we do it anymore?

Read below:


You also agree not to display any other
text-based or content-targeted
advertisement(s) on the same Web page in connection with which an Ad Unit or
any Ad is displayed.

4) Finally we were not allowed to display Ads in pages that cointained Online Casino content.

There is no mention to that and I see Online casino ads within the AdSense network.

Any ideas?

Thank you all for your time.............


 11:31 pm on Feb 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Gambling content is still prohibited per the program policies page.

This 50 message thread spans 2 pages: < < 50 ( 1 [2]
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