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The Google AdSense scoop on multiple ad units
Can we or can't we, according to Google

 9:59 pm on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

This has been brought up numerous times, so I thought I'd start a new thread so it can be popped into the WebmasterWorld AdSense Library for easy reference.

When the AdSense terms got changed [webmasterworld.com], it set off some pretty intensive discussion over what this multiple ad unit thing meant, if publishers could start using it right away, and how publisher's could control whether the multiple ad units shared any of the same ads.

That evening, AdSenseAdvisor posted the following: [webmasterworld.com] (msg #6)
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.

Others have also received the same answer from AdSense Support, that only one ad unit is allowed per page.

The conference was a week after the new terms were released, so I specifically Gokul Rajaram (the AdSense rep who was on the Contextual Advertising panel with me) about this multiple ad unit thing.

Gokul said that allowing multiple ad units requires a change to the terms and policies. But because changing the terms and policies is pretty significant (and all publishers must agree to them to continue using their AdSense account), Google wants to update it no more than once per quarter.

As a result, the neccessary changes required for the use of multiple ad units was made to the Terms with the February 19, 2004 update, so that they wouldn't have to wait until the following quarter to make the changes to the terms. This would also mean they wouldn't have to make more than one Terms change in the quarter. It was not launched at the same time, however, because it is a feature that is still being worked on.

I then asked what the restrictions on using multiple ad units would be on a page. I didn't get a specific answer, but was instead told there are many publishers with content-heavy sites that would like to utilize multiple ad units on pages with lengthy articles, so an AdSense unit at both the top and the bottom of the article could be used. He did say they would not allow pages full of AdSense units, however ;)

So the big question is WHEN? Well, like the stats question, I didn't get a specific date, but I did get an answer of "soon". (The new stats arrived less than three weeks after Gokul told me the new stats would be released "very soon"). But, since Google only wants to update the Terms once a quarter, the timing could mean a few things for when we will actually see multiple ad units available.

On the latest possible date the changes will be made within three months of the February 19th date that the updated terms were released - meaning anytime between now and May 19th. Or it could be the quarter from January 1st to March 31st, meaning we could see multiple ad units within the next 11 days. Or they could be on Google quarter time, meaning their quarter could end anytime between now and May 19th ;)

The launch of the new ad channels might be a step towards multiple ad units, but there are also plenty of more variables for the script that AdSense could somehow use for this purpose as well.

I hope this helps clear up all the confusion, with some of the official AdSense voices on the subject. I will post if I hear any updated information from Google.



 12:16 pm on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks Jenstar.....

I am waiting with the enter button poised to get that second ad unit up there.


 3:48 pm on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks Jenstar, I think at least one at TOP, and another one at Bottom placement is a need for long articles, so long as it LONG enough, maybe Google will give a specific word counts for a article, and to define how RICH the content is, which means without NonSense OR B.S. content. :-)


 8:45 pm on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks Jenstar. Should save people a lot of time second-guessing.


 8:59 pm on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thank you, Jenstar, for the interesting report.

I hope this helps clear up all the confusion

To the contrary, Google's clumsy maneuver is the CAUSE of the confusion. I am certain that you reported your conversation accurately. But that doesn't change the fact that the "truth" is third-hand, leaked information available only to members of this forum. The AdSense TOS is a contract between content publishers and Google. Nothing else matters. Multiple ad units are allowed, and have been since the e-mailed announcement, on February 19, that they are allowed. I am running multiple units now, unhindered.

My professional life is governed by contracts, so I'm rather literal in my approach to business partnership. And believe me, when the chips fall, the official language is all that matters. Lacking guidelines from Google, I will respect common-sense design practice regarding ad density. But I will not wait for a secret handshake to tell me that the TOS is "really" in effect. I will proceed in placing second ad units throughout my sites, where appropriate.


 9:01 pm on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

I will proceed in placing second ad units throughout my sites, where appropriate.

How are you able to guarantee that duplicate ads won't be displayed?


 9:06 pm on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Why does more page real estate need to be taken up with more ads? Having multiple ad units on each page should be seen by googlebot similar to a junk affiliate site with lots of ads and little content.

Surely exceptions to this exist, as i am sure many of the folks on this post would gurantee good content before numerous ads are placed, but having multiple ad units per page leaves lots of room for abuse by other site owners, who plaster ads all over the page and have a few sentances of content.

How will duplicate ads be dealt with, and how will adsense keep up with the inevitable abuse that will occur if they allow multiple ad units per page?

It already seems that adsense has it's hands tied monitoring the thousands of sites that run adsense on pages that are not suitable for adsense to be run on.

<100th post>Glad to be here</100th post>


 9:08 pm on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

How are you able to guarantee that duplicate ads won't be displayed?

I don't believe that is the publisher's responsibility. My interpretation of Google's ambiguous language on this point is not that we must ensure non-duplicity of ads. I think Google is informing us that ads will not repeat across multiple units, and that we shouldn't hope to benefit from ad repetition.

Multiple ad units are allowed. Publishers have no way of controlling which ads appear in any unit. My interpretation is the only one which reconciles these two points. If Google meant something different, the TOS must be rewritten.


 10:21 pm on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

We ran more than one ad a few weeks ago and got an email saying that we could only run one instance of code on a page.

Plus we did get duplicate adverts. So we're just going to wait a few weeks until something is official. As a business, would rather do that than possibly have Google switch us off (rightly or wrongly) and then have to go through the ins and outs.

Plus reckon its worth testing for a while if and when it does happen, before going live, because if the double-serving starts to use up adverts, we'll get those awkward looking single/double ads in leader boards.

That could be a self-correcting lesson for any spammy sites.


 5:47 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

While I like Brad's approach, if Google shuts you down and claims it is because of fraud...you can tell them their legal language allowed you to place multiple ads, but they can say that they shut you down for another reason and you won't have a legal leg to stand on...at least that's how I read it... In practice I think they can have their cake and eat it too.

Also, I understand G's point about 1 change per quarter, but if that results in causing confusion, I think applying an arbitrary frequency of terms changes and ADDING confusion is a silly dogmatic way of running things...


 6:18 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

"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."

From AdSenseAdvisor's explanation, Google are approaching this clause like mathematicians: Since the second part (no duplicates) is impossible to implement, the first part of the clause is irrelevant. To them, it's like saying you can run multiple ads on the moon.

Brad is approaching it more like a lawyer: since the second part is totally outside of the publisher's control, it's unfair to impose that condition.

I sympathize with that, but since he is now well aware of Google's intent, I would say just take the extra ads down. Fortunately Google don't appear to be banning sites for this without warning.


 6:34 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)


It is clear {IMHO} that the way this is going to be worked out is with a new variant of the code that would esentially tell adsense that X number of ads will be pulled for an specific page and that X/2 will go to one unit and that x/2 will go to the second ad unit.

It does not even have to be an equal distribution it could be a total of 6 ads pulled with 4 going to a leaderboard and the remaining two going to a banner or some other split.

If I am correct, I would hope that we get to pick which ad unit would be the primary and which one will be the secondary, in a way that would assure that the best ads go to the one in the premier position, and the filler go to the below the fold.

On the other hand, it could be that each ad unit will look at its proximity and pull ads from the keywords around them. I sure hope I don't end up serving ads about copyrights below the fold ;)

BTW, Great idea from Google whomever came up with it should get a raise. I might even get rid of a set of affiliate ads and replace them with Google ad code, so as to keep the number of ads per page to 3 in my pages.


 6:40 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Since the second part (no duplicates) is impossible to implement, ...

I think that with some of the new options a publisher could taylor pages so that two or three ad blocks displayed completely different ads. That may not have been Gs intent when they released the new options, but I still think it's possible to do, although I haven't tried it.

That said, I'd like better ads before I worry about more ads.


 6:56 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

One more thing:

I hope that we also get to specify the colors of each ad unit as the secondary might go in another section of the page that has a different background.


 7:22 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I can see how banners or leaderboards at the top and bottom of the page might make sense. The concept is nothing new; ad banners have been displayed that way for years on many sites.

Duplicate ads aren't a problem, either. In fact, the ads probably should be duplicates, if only to make sure that advertisers who bid for top position are getting their money's worth.


 7:42 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

When I read the new TOS, I understood it to mean we could use multiple units.

As others have mentioned ad duplication being outside the publishers control, I would also like to add a hearty "So what?" about mutiple ads.

If a page is more than a screenfull the ads at the top scroll off before the ads at the bottom appear...

Since AdWord's advertisers pay for clicks not impressions, why would they care if their ad is seen twice (once at the top of a page and again at the bottom).

When I used to run banner ads I explicitly put the same ad at the top and bottom of the pages. This reinforced the advertisers message, and if it was context sensitive, it really made more sense, (and also reduced the bandwidth needed to fill a page since the second ad could get pulled from temp cached files).

1. open page
2. see ad, don't click because you want to read page.
3. read page and decide if advertiser fills need.
4. see ad again
5. click ad

(note in this scenario, the chances are VERY slim that the person will remember the top ad and scroll back to the top of the page.... but there is a good chance they will use the bottom ad as an "exit")...

Higher CTR is good for everyone, Publishers, Google and Advertisers.... isn't the idea to get targeted customers to the Advertisers site?

The only drawback I can see is the "impressions" will be doubled, the CTR will be 50%, but the "Clicks" and "$" will be accurate.

As an aside, I will ask here what people's interpretation of having TWO Adsense publisher's putting their code on one page, (ie- co-authors who decide the best way to monetize their work is to each put up an ad).


 7:46 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I will ask here what people's interpretation of having TWO Adsense publisher's putting their code on one page

My interpretation is that this would be against the TOS as it stands now.


 8:08 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'd also like to point out that allowing multiple ads would cause a huge increase in overhead on Google's servers.

Plus, if they stuck to the idea that the same ad couldn't be shown twice, IMO it would be a huge technological challenge. It's not a simple matter of saying placement 1 should get ads 1-4 and placement 2 should get ads 5-8, because every time a request is made Google matches a different set of ads to the page.

To accomplish this, 2 or more asynchronous HTTP requests would have to be handled as one request. And depending on how Google do load balancing, the requests might not even go to the same server.

[On further thought, one alternative would be to have multiple scripts in a kind of master-slave relationship where all the ads for the page are only loaded once -- IF the external scripts can communicate at all in theory and if it's possible to get around the problem that they execute asynchronously.]

[edited by: jomaxx at 8:18 pm (utc) on Mar. 23, 2004]


 8:18 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have no plans to do it personally, but now that Google is allowing ads in frames/iframes, couldn't you just put two sets of ads in frames/iframes with different content to ensure different ads? This isn't perfect, but it would work pretty well.


 10:56 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I hope when this is finally addressed, there will be some provision to allow both Fastclick's Adsense ads and Google's own Adsense program.

So far I can only use Fastclick, but I would like to try regular Adsense ads elewhere on the page, now that Adsense's content targeting seems possibly to have improved. (I do have very long content-heavy pages.)


 11:18 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Fairla: I would block Fastclick's adsense ads and any contextua; campaigns they are running and ad adsense somewhere else in the page. There is a reason why you have not been optimized out of FC's contextual ads.


 11:25 am on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Why couldn't AdSense allow publishers to place the ad code at the top of a long article and again at the bottom?

AdSense could detect that the ads are duplicated on the same page view, so no new ads would actually have to be served, just a copy of those at the top.

This arrangement would result in a single impression from the ad server's point of view for each page while still showing the ad twice.


 12:43 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well I was confused so I wrote to the Google Adsense team yesterday and here is part of their reply:
Essentially, our policy concerning double-serving (showing two identical ads on a single page) has not changed from before the updated Terms and Conditions were released. As there is currently no mechanism in place to prevent double-serving if two ad units are on the same page, publishers may only place one copy of AdSense ad code on each page.

Double-serving also includes showing AdWords ads through an ad network - you may not have AdSense code on a page that also displays AdWords ads through such a network.

The recently updated language on ad placement was added to allow us to introduce new features as we move forward. If we do add a feature that will allow multiple ad units on a page without any duplication of ads, we'll certainly let you know via email. Until then, please ensure that a maximum of one ad unit is placed on each of your pages.

What could be clearer than that?


 1:35 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hey, cut 'em a little slack. Google's PhDs majored in computer science or mathematics, not in English composition. :-)


 1:45 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I thought they were pretty clear... :( I am confused now..... Does this mean that I don't come across as clearly as I thought.

In a nutshell, they may or may not introduce the capability to serve more than one ad unit per page. As of right now, stick to one ad unit.


 3:26 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have to say that including clearly ambiguous terms in the TOS becasue they don't want to update more than once a quarter is rather ridiculous.

For a company valued around the 6-10 billion $ mark it's frankly amatuerish. They have caused themselves twice the work of an update by no doubt having to reply to thousands of emails about serving multiple ads.

Come on Google get a grip.

Of course as with every discussion about TOS the point is entirely moot as publishers have no form of legal redress anyway.


 4:10 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have to say that including clearly ambiguous terms in the TOS becasue they don't want to update more than once a quarter is rather ridiculous.

That was indeed a bizarre explanation for the phrasing.

Once they send you the email its very clear. Just hoping that am not going to have to email them in future every time I have doubts about something in the TOS. Last time I got this confused it was looking at the title deeds for my house, which may or may not at some point in the future be subject to a right of way claim from the house 6 gardens away.


 8:14 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Fairla: I would block Fastclick's adsense ads and any contextua; campaigns they are running and ad adsense somewhere else in the page. There is a reason why you have not been optimized out of FC's contextual ads."

Well, my clickthrough rates were seriously abysmal when I first tested AdSense all over my site. Pennies a day, if that. Whereas I'm now making OK money with Fastclick's CPM Adsense ads, so I'm reluctant to drop them without the ability to test regular AdSense again first.

I did notice the Fastclick Google ads matched my content much better than regular AdSense did. These days I don't know if that's still true, since I never see the Fastclick Google ads on my own site now, even though plenty are being served -- my guess is that Europeans are the ones seeing them. Really wish there was a way I could test Adsense again without cutting myself off from the Fastclick earnings... I suppose now with Channels I can try slowly testing on a page-by-page basis.


 10:10 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

It will be difficult to establish a minimum number of words to have the right to have an header banner, and a footer banner.
Forums canīt guarantee that (there can be a post with 1 small reply, and others with 100 replies), so it would be really difficult, especially in this case.


 6:14 am on Mar 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've noticed some stories at the Register with two sets of AdSense ads. They are probably a premium publisher, of course, but they're using the default ad styling.

This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39 ( [1] 2 > >
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