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No images lined up with adsense ads
a rare policy clarification from Google
Rodney




msg:3192310
 7:09 pm on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

From the Adsense Blog:

We ask that publishers not line up images and ads in a way that suggests a relationship between the images and the ads

blog [adsense.blogspot.com] post goes on to give visual examples of "prohibited" image placement.

I've been seeing this a lot lately as I've been browsing the web. I wonder if they'll start sending out warnings?

 

timster




msg:3195913
 3:19 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Why is "misleading" user with an image is not appropriate, but "misleading" by blending is, and encouraged?

Itís not about the users, and itís not about deception Ė itís about keeping the advertisers happy.

If they sell stuff to people who maybe didn't see they were clicking on an ad, thatís fine. Ads that are not obviously ads are much older than the Adsense or the Internet. And I donít have a lot of doubt that Google has statistics to show that blending (done properly) is good for business, benefiting their publishers, advertisers, and themselves. (And the users are maybe pretty happy with all the cool stuff they bought, but thatís a secondary consideration.)

But if you send advertisers useless traffic, or if you dilute their branding efforts, they wonít like it.

Iíve got some experience in the advertising business, so this may be second nature to me. But I think if you just look at this from an advertiserís perspective, it should all make sense.

Owner edit: Changed a misleading sentence.

rbacal




msg:3196556
 10:12 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

according to the big g, if clicks don't convert, publisher epc will go down

No, that's not what they said. That's what you think they said. It doesn't work that way. Even a modicum of common sense tells you that the conversion data is too sparse for it to be used that way. They profile sites.

Hobbs




msg:3196603
 10:56 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ads that are not obviously ads are much older than the Adsense or the Internet

Excellent point that we often forget, we do need to draw on this industry's rich offline experience to put things in perspective.

danimal




msg:3196607
 11:08 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>They profile sites.<<<

so this is the latest excuse for why your adsense income has dropped by 30%?

maybe you can back up your claim by showing us exactly where google admits to doing site profiling... we are all ears ;-) even if it's completely off-topic.

jomaxx




msg:3196624
 11:37 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

It seems self-evident to me that Google put together something that could be called a profile. danimal, what exactly are you implying Google DON'T do?

rbacal




msg:3196632
 12:01 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

maybe you can back up your claim by showing us exactly where google admits to doing site profiling... we are all ears ;-) even if it's completely off-topic.

I'm noticing that an increasing number of threads in which you are berating people rudely are getting pulled IN THEIR ENTIRETY from the adsense area. It's a very long list going back months and months.

I don't know how others feel about this, but it's probably about time that individuals aren't permitted to get entire threads yanked (sometimes with 100+ messages in them), through their boorish behavior.

It's a huge loss to the community particularly for those that are less experienced and can't access the good stuff that's thrown out with the personal attack dog messages.

(and yes, it's off topic, Dan, but no more so than your incredible desire to erroneously point out that I indicated a 30% loss in adsense revenue without including my explanation that much of the loss was planned and a result of a shift in revenue sources.)

europeforvisitors




msg:3196638
 12:07 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

maybe you can back up your claim by showing us exactly where google admits to doing site profiling

For a very simple example of profiling based on site content, see the "Smart Pricing for the Content Network" section of the Google AdWords Learning Center page at:

[google.com...]

Google first published this example of content-based profiling when smart pricing was introduced in April, 2004. It's reasonable to assume that other factors are used in site profiling, but even if one chooses to believe otherwise, the fact remains that Google has used profiling based on content for more than two and a half years.

BigDave




msg:3196647
 12:21 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Profiling is what google does. That is how they decide where you are in the SERPs. It is how they decide what ads to show on your site. It is how they decide what to pay you.

Or don't you understand what "profiling" means?

Lagamorph




msg:3196661
 12:27 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Why is "misleading" user with an image is not appropriate, but "misleading" by blending is, and encouraged?
I see your point and agree with you, it is inconsistent. As to why they can do it? Because it's theirs and they get to make the rules, fair or not.

I try to look at G as a client I provide a service to, so when they change their mind I accept it and take their money. I also accept that they work on a commission basis so I assume their interests are similar to mine and are geared to a long term money stream. If my goal was to suck as many advertisers dry as fast as I could I might see things differently.

For now I'm willing to defer to the business decisions of the multi billion dollar company that gives me money. YMMV

danimal




msg:3196665
 12:34 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/text/18989.html<<<

and just exactly where do you see "site profiling" in that link?

danimal




msg:3196667
 12:42 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>It seems self-evident to me that Google put together something that could be called a profile.<<<

imho, that's quite a bit closer to the truth.

but now is it really site profiling, or is it actually page profiling? how about sector profiling? perhaps it's content profiling? the list is endless.

look at what a former mod out here claimed that a google employee told her about the so-called "smart pricing"... it was account wide, not per site.

europeforvisitors




msg:3196713
 1:32 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you don't like the word "profiling," call it something else, like "price adjustment based on statistical analysis of conversion probability." Or, if you prefer, go on denying that profiling and smart pricing exist--along with evolution and global warming. :-)

rbacal




msg:3196724
 1:36 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

but now is it really site profiling, or is it actually page profiling? how about sector profiling? perhaps it's content profiling? the list is endless.

look at what a former mod out here claimed that a google employee told her about the so-called "smart pricing"... it was account wide, not per site.

I'm not sure it really matters how it's done, at least to me. Again, I have better things to do than "guess" and if information doesn't provide some clear direction for action, it might be interesting, but it doesn't have any business value.

I'm not tweaking my sites anymore to try to outguess google, and its changes. It's not worth my time. For others who enjoy doing that, and have the time, it might be worthwhile. Me, I have a business to run, and a life to enjoy.

Getting back to topic, I applied the same logic to using lined up images. I happen to like the look, but thought that I'd better follow the spirit of the policies, rather than try to guess and tweak (a line here, maybe a bigger line, more separation, etc). So, I didn't try it out.

This is a good example of how tweaking caused problems. You try to get as close to the line as possible, then the line moves a few inches, and then you have to completely remodify your layouts to suit google, rather than users. You end up more of a work slave then if you worked for a blue suit company. Google twitches, you jump. Not for me.

People who followed the basic do not decieve guideline have avoided having to do all the rework.

danimal




msg:3196766
 2:10 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>They profile sites.<<<

it's funny how 5 people jumped on that bogus claim, but not one single person can prove anything... and nobody will address the allegation of account profiling that was raised by the former mod of this forum.

>>>I'm not tweaking my sites anymore to try to outguess google, and its changes.<<<

rbacal, you didn't tweak anything, because you never set up channels in the first place, and you never monitored your epc.

and of course you never read the critters thread that was at the heart of this google policy change about the pics and ads.

rbacal




msg:3196768
 2:15 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

rbacal, you didn't tweak anything, because you never set up channels in the first place, and you never monitored your epc.

Where are you getting this stuff? It's so off base that it's silly.

I figure I kinda know if I have channels or not, and what I monitor, perhaps a wee bit better than YOU know my channels and activities.

Are you OK, Dan? Your messages are sounding a bit scary and detached from reality here.

jomaxx




msg:3196796
 3:08 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Actually the former mod wasn't told that by Google, but was simply reporting what someone else had claimed in a thread here.

Anyway, I said it just a couple of days ago and now I've got to say it again: I can't be bother replying to you because your posts are pointlessly argumentative. You object to "profiling" but not "profile"? You call out rbacal because he didn't explicitly address the situation where an account consists of multiple websites? This stuff is not worth drafting a reply to.

Lagamorph




msg:3196817
 3:31 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I learned to ignore him a long time ago when he was saying he pwned me and was congratulating himself for winning an argument he was having with himself.

RonS




msg:3196830
 3:54 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Profiling" .... isn't that what he does for a living down at the beauty/nail salon?

It's about time that Google put a stop to this horrible horrible practice of drawing attention to ads. Maybe my EPC will go up a few cents more as advertiser's budgets aren't being drained by worthless clicks.

danimal




msg:3196852
 4:38 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>You call out rbacal because he didn't explicitly address the situation where an account consists of multiple websites?<<<

no, he got called out because he expressed an opinion as if it were fact, which is something that he does all the time out here.

his bogus statement excluded any other profiling possibilities, which *you* pointed out... even as an opinion, what he said was not logical.

>>>I figure I kinda know if I have channels or not, and what I monitor<<<

you kinda know exactly what? and you monitored exactly what? go ahead, tell us what data you used to base your decisions on.

and i don't recall you ever mentioning the history of your epc on this forum... but you told us earlier that it would take over 1,000 channels to monitor epc :-)

Chico_Loco




msg:3196887
 5:26 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't advertise much with AdWords, but I use AdSense a lot, and even to me this seems like a good move.

I've seen a lot of sites that totally go overboard with this, making the ads appear as though they are regular links. It's just unfair to advertisers, in my opinion.

I wonder though, would it be realistic to allow advertisers to add their own thumbnails or images? That may increase CTR while also allowing advertisers to permeate their brand with logos beside their ads?!?!?!

DXL




msg:3196894
 5:31 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I run a sports website. All pages have ads, but this summer I used vertical ads with four pictures of athlete faces next to a line and then four ads on about 10% of the pages to test how the ads performed. I never felt as though it was misleading because its a person's picture as opposed to a product image.

There seemed to be a great deal of confusion on WW over what was acceptable, so I emailed G asking specifically if that type of ad setup was against TOS. I kept the email, and to summarize what was written: "You are welcome to place images next to your ads, but try to keep within our policies. If you place images directly next to ads, we suggest that you place a border around your ads so as not to confuse visitors"

It was a somewhat vague answer, but it wasn't a definite no either. In conclusion, I personally do not plan to remove this type of ad format until G sends me an email requesting that I do so.

Lagamorph




msg:3196896
 5:51 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Was the instruction to place a border around the images too vague?

Good luck with the semantics argument.

Chico_Loco




msg:3196897
 5:55 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

... I used vertical ads with four pictures of athlete faces next to a line and then four ads on about 10% of the pages to test how the ads performed. I never felt as though it was misleading because its a person's picture as opposed to a product image.

The thing about that though is... what percentage of the people click on that ad do so because if the athlete's picture and not because of the ad copy? The target site may have nothing to do with that particular athelete, and so the user is more likely to click the back button, thus adding to the expense of the advertiser.

...so I emailed G asking specifically if that type of ad setup was against TOS. I kept the email, and to summarize what was written: "You are welcome to place images next to your ads, but try to keep within our policies. If you place images directly next to ads, we suggest that you place a border around your ads so as not to confuse visitors"

This is probably what they are looking for. If images are placed beside the ads, then you should set a border color different that the background color so that the ads are an obvious separate block.

It was a somewhat vague answer, but it wasn't a definite no either. In conclusion, I personally do not plan to remove this type of ad format until G sends me an email requesting that I do so.

Please let us know if you get the email!

jomaxx




msg:3196933
 7:26 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just to make it excruciatingly clear, if you look at the actual AdSense blog posting (see post 1 in this thread), one of the examples of a TOS violation has a clear line break between the images and the ads they're lined up with.

So I wouldn't rely on a line break or a border to keep you safe. It all depends on the context. Use this trick at your peril, and don't expect much sympathy if you get banned because of it.

swa66




msg:3197668
 10:58 pm on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I really don't get the people who payed the game, are being told they are way over the line, then feel justified in following up on their need to express themselves as the victims.

The direct victims are the advertisers, the indirect victims are Google, the reputation of the content network and thus all the adsense publishers (*us* in other words) and by extension the rest of the world's visitors to those sites.

It's not that hard to understand 'undue attention', nor is it to understand that 'publishers may not label the ads with text other than "sponsored links" or "advertisements." This includes any text directly above our ads that could be confused with, or attempt to be associated with Google ads.' Note it says "includes text", not "excludes images".

All the rest (including "I've been banned" threads) is your own fault if you do not heed even the additional warnings you got. And I'm sure there are plenty honest webmasters out there ready to report you.

Google is right, and the only complaint might be that they aren't sooner with this and/or aren't enforcing it vigorously. But all such changes are for the better.

Juan_G




msg:3198344
 6:06 pm on Dec 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hobbs wrote:

This is not a new rule, this is an explanation of an old rule.


BigDave wrote:

Hobbs is right. If you read their post *carefully* you will find that certain pieces of advice are the same as in may discussions.

They hint that they are going to be stricter in their interpretation, but much of the wording is the same as my understanding.

My understanding has been that they want a border if you have pictures that line up with the ads. Not spaces or lines. What do they say in this post?

Consider using a full border around your ads or changing your ad colors, for example.

Yes, Google keeps explaining the same crucial point about what is not compliant: "... if it's in such a way that it looks like the images are part of the ads." (August 2005 [jensense.com]). "If your visitors believe that the images and the ads are directly associated... If the ads and the images appear to be associated..." (December 2006 [adsense.blogspot.com]).

Google has also explained that they require a visible differentiation between ads and nearby site images "to make it clear that the images are not being served by Google on behalf of the advertisers", and therefore to prevent a possible user confusion about the topic of the ads.

It's similar at Yahoo: "Bottom line: Images next to ads are not allowed in YPN unless there is a clear distinction between the images and ads", as YahooSarah (from Yahoo) explained on the DP YPN forum (July 2006). Their guidelines say: "The user must be able to tell the difference between the Ad Unit and other content on the publisher's page."

Naturally, the circumstances are different for the experimental image+text ad units [webmasterworld.com] that both Google and Yahoo have been testing, with suitable images served by them.

From many publishers' forum posts, etc., since the springtime of 1995 when the image+text idea appeared, we have seen that different publishers who experimented with different image techniques -many, probably most of them, in a wrong way due to a well-known and outdated first forum post on the topic- have obtained different results. Sometimes they were smartpriced -low EPC- after using random and confusing images without the visible differentiation from the ads required by Support.

However, when the images were carefully selected (like normal site images, on-topic but general, not product-specific) and Support's guidelines on differentiation were followed to avoid any user confusion -and in some cases even without the differentiation when the images were appropriate-, conversions appeared to be excellent, with a positive long-term smart pricing effect and good, even improved, EPC in this case.

That is to say, a similar effect to accepted techniques such as placing ads above the fold and near the site content (site text, images, etc.).

Therefore, even when a visible distinction between AdSense/YPN ads and nearby site content (including site images) is required to publishers, on the other hand those experimental image+text ad units tested by Google and Yahoo -if done correctly- seem a promising development in online advertising, in order to reduce ad blindness and increase ad reading, as a natural evolution from the old image ads and text ads.

potentialgeek




msg:3198429
 8:06 pm on Dec 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

It should be up to the advertisers to regulate this. So much emphasis seems to go onto Google to write the rules, clarify its rules, reclarify those rules, and then enforce them. But the advertisers can track websites and make the decision to block their ads to those sites or not, just like the publishers can ban advertisers.

The advertisers can figure out the conversion rates, they can review the ad placements, if they want, and they can decide if they want to keep running them or not. Let them determine if the ads are too close to images and deceptive, or aggressive, creative, and productive. Google has already give them the tools to monitor their ad campaigns--daily if not more often--and that's enough.

Google doesn't have the time to check every website and frankly it's a very subjective situation which Google really isn't in the best position to make a judgment.

How does Google find out about 'dodgy' sites? Some advertiser complains? Why didn't it just shut up, ban the site, and move on? Because they are lazy, don't track sites except once a month?

Maybe there are some ads placed next to images which actually help advertisers; in other cases the opposite. Let the advertisers make these decisions. I'm sure there are some advertisers who banned me, just as there are others, including major corporations, which have advertised on my sites for over a year. And that's exactly the way it should be.

p/g

rbacal




msg:3198432
 8:14 pm on Dec 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

It should be up to the advertisers to regulate this. So much emphasis seems to go onto Google to write the rules, clarify its rules, reclarify those rules, and then enforce them. But the advertisers can track websites and make the decision to block their ads to those sites or not, just like the publishers can ban advertisers.

The advertisers can figure out the conversion rates, they can review the ad placements, if they want, and they can decide if they want to keep running them or not. Let them determine if the ads are too close to images and deceptive, or aggressive, creative, and productive. Google has already give them the tools to monitor their ad campaigns--daily if not more often--and that's enough.

First, you aren't considering the reputation of google itself, and how it affects advertiser bids and behaviors. Take a look at the "less reputable" competitors to see what happens when there are no quality standards (adb**** as an example). Low bids, low publisher income. There's five or six other networks that most advertisers won't touch, or bid almost nothing on.

Second, google is a success because they made it easy for advertisers to advertise. That goes completely out the window if you multiply the amount of time and work required for advertisers by a factor of 10 or 20. Time is money.

BigDave




msg:3198438
 8:55 pm on Dec 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Most advertisers are in the business of selling something. They aren't in the business of monitoring the quality of the sites that carry their ads.

They all do it sometimes, but they don't want that to be their primary business.

The way it currently works, an advertiser spots a site doing something wrong and reports it. Google takes action, then no more advertisers have to worry about blocking that site. Your way requires every advertiser to block the site.

Juan_G




msg:3198441
 9:05 pm on Dec 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

since the springtime of 1995 when the image+text idea appeared

[Allowable time to edit post has past.]

Oops... Sorry, I should have written springtime of 2005, naturally. Maybe I'm getting a bit old... ;)

Sweet Cognac




msg:3199475
 6:34 pm on Dec 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

I found something pretty funny yesterday. Someone had a large rectangle with the images lined up on the left and adsense was showing exactly 1 ad in the rectangle. It sure looked wierd.

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