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*Irrelevant* Images Next To Adsense OK?
bigdealioo

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 3:42 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

There was a big storm of discussion following the "policy clarification" issued on 12/06 here:

[adsense.blogspot.com...]

The most common conclusion was that "placing images next to Adsense is now illegal." But personally, I have arrived to a different conclusion: "placing images related to the ads and images pointing (arrows, etc.) to the ads is illegal. but placing images that are not related to the ads is OK."

To back up this interpretation, I will quote from the "policy clarification":

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

So by logic, if there's no suggestion of a relationship between the images and the ads - then the images are OK. As an example, images displaying squares of different colors next to ads about weight loss would be OK. Images displaying fruits next to ads about PHP programming would be OK.

In my opinion, it's reasonable for a logical person to arrive to such a conclusion after reading the "policy clarification."

Now, here's my question - does anyone else here interpret it in the way I do? Has anyone else tried putting *irrelevant* images next to ads? If so, did they get into trouble for it?

 

Quadrille

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Msg#: 3478938 posted 4:13 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

"placing images next to Adsense is now deprecated, if the selection and or placing of those images misleads the visitor." would probably be closer.

Point is, it is not an objective judgment. If your rival thinks you are pushing your luck, they may choose to report you - and Google Adsense will be the final arbiter - with no appeal.

I don't think it's an argument that can be settled one way or the other, outside of Google, but the change suggests that 'luck pushing' may require more thought than before. :)

Personally, I very much doubt that Google would close an account because on one page of a 2k site, one picture coincidentally could be interpreted that way, with an easterly wind and one eye half open, and an envious idiot submitted a report. But I could be wrong.

As with most minor changes in the TOS, honest webmasters have nothing to fear - except fear itself.

[edited by: Quadrille at 4:14 pm (utc) on Oct. 16, 2007]

jomaxx

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jomaxx us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 4:50 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Your reasoning is faulty. The point is that people may click on the text ads after scanning the page but not reading it closely, expecting that the destination page will be somehow related to the image. If anything, matching the ads with irrelevant images will serve to make your clickthroughs more useless than ever.

poodwaddle

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 5:09 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

It is practices like this that necessitates Smart Pricing. Drawing attention to an ad is one thing, but this little trick does far more. It draws a large percent of uninterested clicks, and I think it is a waste of time. There are much better ways to position ads that will draw attention without risking violation.

bigdealioo

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 5:15 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

if there's a blue square next to an ad about PHP encoding... how would that mislead you? Would that mislead anyone? No.

jomaxx

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jomaxx us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 5:31 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Whatever.

netmeg

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Msg#: 3478938 posted 6:33 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

if there's a blue square next to an ad about PHP encoding... how would that mislead you? Would that mislead anyone? No.

No, but it calls attention to the direct proximity of the ad, therefore it's not allowed.

But go ahead if you want; our arguing with you is pointless. None of it is up to us, and you seem bound and determined to push the boundaries regardless.

farmboy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 6:41 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Has anyone else tried putting *irrelevant* images next to ads? If so, did they get into trouble for it?

A couple of years ago I put RELEVANT images next to ads for a short period of time and didn't get into trouble.

The rule is that AdSense doesn't allow calling attention to ads except when AdSense does allow calling attention to ads. :)

FarmBoy

scotland

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 9:00 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Positioning images next to adverts - I have seen several sites recently that still do this and the sad fact is that they actually look good. I even experimented for a couple of hours with graphics (black dots) next to single graphic images and while I did not implement them (too scared of being banned) I did realise one thing - they were very effective at making take me notice of the advert on the page, and I am normally oblivious to adverts - I don't click them on other people's websites.

I understand and agree that positioning graphics in such where people click on them have absolutely no interest in the product / subject being advertised is a waste of time for the advertiser, yet when you land on a page of Google Adsense links - on search engines results (many UK broadband and portal pages for example show the list of adverts first), holding pages for domain registration companies, error pages (my hosting company - a major one in the US and UK does this) then what difference is there?

Google makes one rule for the companies that make them a lot of money (listed above) and another for the sole webmaster trying to make a few dollars.

The whole point of advertising to to get noticed - so why does Google not come up with some innovative and attractive surrounds for their adverts - in that way people will be motivated to notice the advert and if interested in the subject click on the advert.

Content_ed

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 10:26 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

We have a couple pages with multiple images where the Adsense block is right next to an image, so I wrote Adense a while back and asked them about it. Here is the reply:

Thanks for checking in with us about the ad placements on your pages. I've reviewed [#*$!.com...] and I'm happy to let you know that this type of ad implementation is compliant with our program policies.

In general, we ask that you exercise caution when placing images near the Google ads on your site, as AdSense publishers may not rely on deceptive implementation methods to generate clicks.

To be specific, we ask that publishers not place misleading images near Google ads or use images that appear to be directly associated with the advertisers and their offerings. The use of such images may confuse users and result in unintentional clicks.

I wouldn't want to have to interpret those guidelines myself:-)

Juan_G

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 10:30 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Bigdealioo wrote:

The most common conclusion was that "placing images next to Adsense is now illegal." But personally, I have arrived to a different conclusion: "placing images related to the ads and images pointing (arrows, etc.) to the ads is illegal. but placing images that are not related to the ads is OK."


In the policy clarification [adsense.blogspot.com], AdSense Support said: "(...) in a way that suggests a relationship between the images and the ads. If your visitors believe that the images and the ads are directly associated, (...)", "If the ads and the images appear to be associated (...)", etc.

As explained for example on a previous thread, Images Next to Google Ads [webmasterworld.com], and also on the main thread about the policy clarification [webmasterworld.com], Support had said even before [jensense.com] what this relationship or association means: "if it's in such a way that it looks like the images are part of the ads". They had asked to "make it clear that the images are not being served by Google on behalf of the advertisers".

Naturally, in the same way that only some kind of text and not all text is forbidden near ads, they don't say that all images are forbidden; that's too simplistic, of course. The Program Policies [google.com] forbid "arrows", "misleading images", and some texts.

But even in the case of normal site images near ads, the policy clarification said "If the ads and the images appear to be associated, inserting a small space or a line between the images and ads will not make the implementation compliant". And, if there is a possible user confusion, recommended "Consider using a full border around your ads or changing your ad colors, for example". That is to say, it's necessary enough differentiation to make it clear that any nearby site images are not part of the ads, for example by having the ad unit in its own separate box.

And you know, when in doubt on a specific design we should ask AdSense Support directly.

[edited by: Juan_G at 11:04 pm (utc) on Oct. 16, 2007]

farmboy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 10:31 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

To be specific, we ask that publishers not place misleading images near Google ads...

Hmmm. You can't place misleading images near Google ads. But it's OK to write misleading ads.

FarmBoy

farmboy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 10:34 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

The whole point of advertising to to get noticed - so why does Google not come up with some innovative and attractive surrounds for their adverts - in that way people will be motivated to notice the advert and if interested in the subject click on the advert.

I wrote above that AdSense doesn't allow attracting attention to ads except when they do allow attracting attention to ads.

AdSense provides color palettes. If you want, you can have ads with red text on a lime green background and bright yellow border. That will certainly attract attention.

FarmBoy

Juan_G

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 10:55 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, in fact, to draw attention to the ads by legitimate means -such as placing them above the fold and near the site content- is not only not forbidden, but encouraged. See for example the well-known AdSense's heat maps [google.com].

So, the problem is not to draw attention but to draw undue attention. We can see these examples in the Program Policies:

# May not encourage users to click the Google ads by using phrases such as "click the ads," "support us," "visit these links," or other similar language
# May not direct user attention to the ads via arrows or other graphical gimmicks

Apart from undue attention, other different problem is user confusion:

# May not place misleading images alongside individual ads
# May not place misleading labels above Google ad units - for instance, ads may be labeled "Sponsored Links" but not "Favorite Sites"

poodwaddle

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 11:12 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

It is entirely possible and legitimate to dress up ads with borders, or to blend it with your site content. I use Flash for much of my content and surround the ads with a matching border, blending it with the content. This is highly effective as it draws attention to the ads, but does not mislead the user into thinking that the ads are part of the navigational menus of my site. This is the distinction. If you place images or other objects around or beside ads that appear to suggest that the user should click the ad to navigate to part of your site, this is misleading and, logically, against Adsense terms. Plenty of studies have shown that users overlook obvious ads. It is our job as site designers to draw attention to ads without misleading users and causing unintentional clicks.

bigdealioo

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 11:33 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

"To be specific, we ask that publishers not place misleading images near Google ads or use images that appear to be directly associated with the advertisers and their offerings."

OK.. so that just confirms my viewpoint. The logical conclusion from the above quote is that: as long as the images are NOT "misleading" or "appear to be directly associated with the advertisers and their offerings" - then they can be placed near Google ads.

Juan_G

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 11:58 pm on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Bigdealioo wrote:

as long as the images are NOT "misleading" or "appear to be directly associated with the advertisers and their offerings"

... and those images must not appear to be part of the ads.

Remember that, to prevent this and any user confusion, if you have ads near site images, you need enough differentiation such as for instance a different background color or a full border around the ad unit -not just a line-, as already said.

And then, you should show a test page with your design to AdSense Support, before applying it to your site.

wyweb



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 12:20 am on Oct 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

And then, you should show a test page with your design to AdSense Support, before applying it to your site.

Which is exactly what I would do if there was any doubt at all.

farmboy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 1:36 am on Oct 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

OK.. so that just confirms my viewpoint. The logical conclusion from the above quote is that: as long as the images are NOT "misleading" or "appear to be directly associated with the advertisers and their offerings" - then they can be placed near Google ads.

I'd confirm with AdSense before proceeding with that interpretation.

Suppose I have a page about widgets and get ads for widgets. If I place an image of a really nice widget next to an ad, that certainly could be considered misleading.

So I replace the widget image with an image of a pretty woman. That's not misleading because the woman has nothing to do with widgets, right? On the other hand, it may be considered misleading as it may cause someone to believe this pretty woman is endorsing the advertiser's widgets.

Confirm with Google first and save the email.

FarmBoy

ronin

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 10:46 am on Oct 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Quick rule of thumb:

Are you analysing the letter of the rules in order to exploit a loophole which goes against the spirit of the rules?

scotland

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 11:26 am on Oct 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I checked a while ago with Adsense with my use of images next to large 336 x 280 adverts - not to draw attention to the advert, simply as the column it was in is 460 wide and it looked daft with empty space around the advert.

The answer came back that one graphic use was "probably" misleading (I had 4 small pictures in a column - single graphic) while my other use was "probably" ok where I had used a single image to create the picture.

I quickly changed the "wrong" use of the image.

I now use complementary background colours and borders using CSS to fill in the "space" instead of a graphic on new pages I am creating, this certainly looks better and allows me to be more flexible in my ad placement.

Richard

Paris

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 11:27 am on Oct 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

The answer is right there. If you LINE UP images so that they are next to the respective AdSense boxes, you have suggested a relationship. It is not about relevance.

More to the point, if it does NOT suggest a relationship, then why are clickthrough rates higher? Obviously the visitor DOES see a correlation.

You have to put yourself in an advertiser's shoes. You have three lines to tell a story. If someone put an unauthorized thumbnail next to it, you would pay more as an advertiser for crummier leads. After all, if you sell brown widgets and there's a picture of a blue widget -- and it gets clicked on by someone looking for said blue widget -- everyone loses. The sponsor will opt out of AdSense. The publisher will get hit with smartpricing for nonconverting leads. Google will get lower/fewer bids from the advertiser in the future.

potentialgeek

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 1:28 pm on Oct 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I reported a site that had a vertical column with four image ads next to a skyscraper with five ad links. The images were right next to the ad links. It looked ridiculous. These were small images you were supposed to click to see bigger images.

Of course it was very easy to conclude the adjacent text links corresponded to the images (as if you could click the small image or the text link and go to the same target URL).

But Google didn't even contact the site and ask for changes. Everything is exactly the same.

See there has to be a 1:1 ratio of images to links. If the format had been five images next to five text ad links, they'd kill the account. Google somehow assumes surfers aren't "idiots."

I'm not advocating the misleading page design. I'm just saying there's too much paranoia that the use of images near ads will get you banned. If it helps create a better-looking page, try it. Webpages with no images look dull as dishwater.

Incidentally, I suspect Google reassigned some of its Adsense TOS checking/enforcement staff to other areas after it gave Adwords advertisers unlimited site blocking. Since they now have more ability to ban, why would Google feel the need to police accounts as much?

I could see a Google email to an advertiser who complained:

"If you don't like it, block it."

p/g

ecmedia

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 1:49 pm on Oct 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I like the dissection of guidelines and it seems that the conclusion is that unless you point arrows at the ads that should click me, you are OK. The problem is that none of this will work as an argument when G bans you from AdSense. You cannot drag G to court and use the analysis above. So if you value your AdSense account, then don't take chances.

Quadrille

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3478938 posted 2:55 pm on Oct 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

So if you value your AdSense account, then don't take chances.

Nuff said :)

Could someone build a piece of software that will post that in response to every "What Can I Get Away With?" question?

We know that Google has some sophisticated detection schemes, against click fraud and other misdemeanors.

We know that even if Google don't spot every breakage of the "Spirit of the Rules", your rivals may generously help out with a report.

We know that once Google are aware, then they will quickly take action, and there is little realistic chance of appeal.

We know that the vast majority of people who lose their Adsense accounts were not entirely innocent - even if their only crime was to utterly ignore the guidelines, the horror stories, common sense, their horoscope, the runes, the tea leaves and the TOS. And I'm talking about people with telepathic relatives living with repetitive strain injury; you know who you are ;)

So if you value your AdSense account, then don't take chances.

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