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Adsense exclusivity clause. Why?
It was good while it lasted
gorfmeister




msg:1341394
 10:26 pm on Jul 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yesterday, I just reached the $150/day threshhold on revenues ... and this is only on 50% of my site's traffic ( we remove the feed from pages where the targeted Adwords ads don't yield good matches). Yesterday, I also got an e-mail from Google notifying me that our site is not allowed to display Adwords on the same page with other text-based or content-based ads (I "overlooked" that restriction in the policies document).

I'm kind of surprised that Google Adsense is enforcing this "exclusivity clause". It is likely that the main objection Google had was to Search Engine Results (SER) from competitors on the same page as the Adwords, however I believe they also had a problem with affiliate banners and text ads (which are hand targeted for the content of each page) and advertisements which we sell directly to our own customers (both text and graphic and highly targeted to the content of the pages they are on). I have sent them an e-mail to clarify their position on these latter items, but have not received any response.

We have been using Adsense for about a month and have done many tests. Our testing indicated that Adsense ads did not reduce the CTR of any other advertising on the page. Furthermore, the CTR of Adsense went up when displayed alongside other advertising, including the other SER. We positioned the Adsense ads in the most prominent location on our site. They were "above the fold", whereas most of the SER could only be seen once the user scrolled down the page.

My site is a mid-level traffic site which generates a little over one million impressions a month and is in a niche that was producing large numbers of good quality click-thrus for Google's advertisers. I believe that some advertisers were getting a substantial number of their clicks from our site ... our pages being able to satisfy the narrow niche keywords they had chosen.

It was a hard decision, but for now, I decided to remove the Adwords, since the income generated by all the other advertising on my site is currently more than Google's. Our SER programs (we have more than one non-exclusive provider) pay 5 cents to $1.50 per click (comparable to Google's Adsense) and we have full control over what keywords to use for each page. This is much more work than Adsense, but also produces much better targeting. Plus, we can preview results and CPCs ahead of time and can get a breakdown by page of the performance of each keyword mapping. In general, these programs are not open to sites with smaller traffic (actually our site barely qualifies).

I have joined many web publisher programs over the years and none of them required any exclusivity. To me, this is a disturbing change that Google won't be able to get away with. While smaller publishers will embrace this technology and have no problem with the issue, Google could end up alienating a large number of bigger sites. By trying to "protect" themselves by limiting access to publishers by their competitors, they may end up shooting themselves in the foot. I can only hope that when Yahoo/Overture comes out with their competing program, they do not add an exclusivity clause.

I imagine many on this board are not faced with this problem, since Adsense is the first program to come along that has given them any meaningful revenue, but I'd be interested in hearing from anybody in the same situation as me. Is anybody else concerned about this? Does anybody think that this is not a good business decision for Google?

 

Imaster




msg:1341395
 10:33 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would like to see this exclusive clause to go away for good. I prefer adding affiliate links like bfast or other text links from customers, but because of this clause I got it removed.

TravelSite




msg:1341396
 10:43 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

The exclusivity is a pain for most sites - but I can understand why Google may want it.

1. Commercial - obviously it benefits their own pockets!
2. Public Image/Branding.

Point 2 above: If Google removed the exclusivity clause then they would be LOTS of sites, containing mainly affiliate content/links (little real content of their own) suddenly showing it. Google simply does not want its name branded across sites containing hundereds of ads - it would make users less receptive to the word/brand "google". What google does are sites full of content - with just a couple of (its!) ads on the page (enchances googles brand as its only associated with good-content sites).

[edited by: TravelSite at 10:45 pm (utc) on July 23, 2003]

novice




msg:1341397
 10:45 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Prehaps the no text ads clause was a preempted move for the future when Msn, Yahoo or whoever decide to release their versions of Adsense. This way Google already has their clause in effect and your running any of the ads from the competition would be against their (Google's) TOS.

Imaster




msg:1341398
 10:49 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Prehaps the no text ads clause was a preempted move for the future when Msn, Yahoo or whoever decide to release their versions of Adsense. This way Google already has their clause in effect and your running any of the ads from the competition would be against their (Google's) TOS.

Exactly, I believe thats the reason. If google wants to keep exclusive clause, I feel it should be specific to those competitors text based ads, and not for affiliate links such as bfast or customers links.

This would make it really easy for webmasters. I bet 80% of webmasters are hurt by this exclusive clause and since Google is a webmaster friendly search engine, it must look to make us all happy by getting rid of this clause or modifying on the lines I mentioned above.

rcjordan




msg:1341399
 11:02 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>joined many web publisher programs over the years and none of them required any exclusivity.

OTOH, some of the best ones do --and have for years now. I see G's position as exerting it's marketing muscle to prevent diluting it's brand.

>many on this board are not faced with this problem, since Adsense is the first program to come along that has given them any meaningful revenue, but I'd be interested in hearing from anybody in the same situation as me.

I make a nice income from adsense on my secondary sites. I'd like to put it on my high-traffic sites, but I've already placed ads (some running for several years now) that pay about the same as adsense. Yes, I agree that both would do well, but that's G's prerogative.

mayor




msg:1341400
 12:19 am on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I did not think having affiliate links on a webpage, either as graphic images or text links, was against their terms of service.

Here's their TOS:

"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."

I interpret this to mean any other advertisement from a system that analyzes the content of the page and serves a context-based ad based on the analysis. In other words, any other advertising process that works the same way as the AdSense PROCESS works. I also interpret this to mean you cannot mimic the Google ads by appending look-alike ads to their AdSense ads. This interpretation arises from their use of the words "in connection with".

In short, I didn't think they had a problem with affiliate links, either as images or as text links, as long as they weren't excessive and as long as they weren't dressed up to look like or act like Adwords. Has anyone found differenty?

Jenstar




msg:1341401
 12:59 am on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

It sounds as though many people are making much more money with AdSense than they are with any of the other ad networks. That alone gives Google a little bit more muscle in choosing the rules for their TOS. And the reality is that when it comes down to it, people will choose AdSense over the other networks when they have the choice.

And now, Google is the leader, and having that exclusivity is going to give them a greater edge if/when Overture comes out with a competing program to AdSense. It is simply a smart business decision on Google's part.

europeforvisitors




msg:1341402
 1:13 am on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Exactly, I believe thats the reason. If google wants to keep exclusive clause, I feel it should be specific to those competitors text based ads, and not for affiliate links such as bfast or customers links.

There's no problem with having affiliate links.

I think novice is right: Google just doesn't want to have its current and future direct competitors (Sprinks, for example) vying for readers' attention.

gorfmeister




msg:1341403
 4:11 pm on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I interpret this to mean any other advertisement from a system that analyzes the content of the page and serves a context-based ad based on the analysis. In other words, any other advertising process that works the same way as the AdSense PROCESS works.

I beg to differ. My site displays paid search engine results (SER) based on keywords that I select. I determine that a page about "widgets" should display ads related to "widgets". In other words, it is not a system that analyzes the content of the page, but a human (BTW, this produces much better targeting than Google's Adsense). I'm pretty sure that displaying SER is what Google objects to the most.

The affiliate ads and ads we sell directly are also context-based based on human decisions. I'm not sure what Google's policy is regarding this and am awaiting an answer to this question, which I submitted two days ago (although others on this board have seemed to indicate that this is OK).

The TOS is explicit and is easy to understand:

... any other text-based or content-targeted advertisement(s) on the same Web page ...

Literally, any text-based ad or ad that is selected based on the content of the page is prohibited. It doesn't say "any text-based ad, except affiliate program ads" and it doesn't say "any content-targeted ads, except banners sold by the publisher". In short, this prohibition means all advertising, unless it is a graphic banner and it is not targeted to the content of the page (e.g. a webcam banner on a real estate page).

IMHO, if Google says it means something else, that only indcates that they do not intend to completely enforce it. It still does not change the "legal" implications of the phrase.

europeforvisitors




msg:1341404
 5:18 pm on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

IMHO, if Google says it means something else, that only indcates that they do not intend to completely enforce it. It still does not change the "legal" implications of the phrase.

Sorry, but isn't that simple. There's no uniform definition of a "text ad," so there are no clear-cut "legal implications." Interpretation is everything.

Fortunately, Google's interpretation (the only one that counts) does not include affiliate links under the heading of "text ads," and for a very good reason: If Google didn't allow AdSense partners to have affiliate links, it wouldn't be able to recruit successful publishers in the categories that offer the most advertising potential.

mayor




msg:1341405
 5:52 pm on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well my site has both the usual banner and text based affiliate ads and I haven't got the AdSense boot yet but I'm definitely watching my backside.

Wish the issue of affiliate ads could really be clarified. I would take them off but they're woven into the content of the site.

Imaster




msg:1341406
 6:58 pm on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think Google should make it more clear so we don't step on fire.

libdex




msg:1341407
 8:17 pm on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

A number of people use the services of [textads.biz....] Ads are not based on content. Would running these constitute a breach of the contract?

gorfmeister




msg:1341408
 9:53 pm on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I got a response to my question.

1. The intent of Google is to not permit AdWords ads to be published on web pages that also contain what could be considered competing ads.

2. Google support admits that text-based ads are difficult to define. They then went on to say that they allow "affiliate or limited-text links". They then pointed me to ad on my site that they had a problem with ... it happened to be an affiliate ad with limited-text. Now I'm really confused. The ad was a 120x60 bordered box with about 8 words of single font clickable text.

3. They had a major objection (as you might expect) with any text-based ad that attempts to directly mimic or be associated with AdWords ads.

4. Finally, it is OK to place ads that are appropriate for the content of each page along with AdWords ads. I assume that this means banners.

In conclusion, I believe any affiliate ad that is text-based would be objectionable, unless the ad was displayed in a different manner than is used by Google AdSense (e.g. no border around the text). Also so would the ads provided by [textads.biz....]

Imaster




msg:1341409
 10:24 pm on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for sharing with us gorfmeister.

This certainly means that there is no way we can be certain whether a particular text ad on our site is ok or not, but of course if it doesn't mimic the ad sense format :)

So I would consider it alright to place a few text ads which do not mimic adsense format.

Imaster




msg:1341410
 10:26 pm on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ah yes and [textads.biz...] would definitely be a no-no as they almost mimic adsense format. Unless of course Google likes [textads.biz...]

Nikke




msg:1341411
 10:57 pm on Jul 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Apart from trying to fend off competitors, I wonder if there isn't another reason Google don't like other text ads: Since Google analyses the pages, a static text ad placed hight up on the page could actually give Google the wrong idea of what the pages is about.

Just a thought...

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