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Google AdSense Guidelines: Now Dislikes Blending Ads Like Your Content
lots of sites are going to get warnings....
nippi




msg:3612963
 4:43 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

1. Ads shouldn't be placed under a title or section heading in a way that implies that the ads are not ads.

2. Ads should be easily distinguishable from surrounding content.

[adsense.blogspot.com...]

[edited by: engine at 4:23 pm (utc) on Mar. 28, 2008]
[edit reason] added quote and permalink [/edit]

 

leadegroot




msg:3613895
 1:39 am on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

nippi: assuming that if google does X then you can too, indeed assuming that because someone else does X that you can too... in the world of adsense, this will only get you banned.

Follow the rules that apply to you :(

farmboy




msg:3613900
 1:53 am on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

As a webmaster, I know these links are sponsored, but studies show around 50% of general web surfers don't.

So what? That's meant to be serious, not sarcastic.

My guess is way more than 50% of people who see a Pepsi can sitting on a table during a sitcom don't realize it's there because of a paid placement sponsorship. I can think of other similar examples.

The fact the some percentage of some group of people don't recognize an advertisement as an advertisement doesn't necessarily make the advertisement "wrong."

FarmBoy

walkman




msg:3614028
 8:33 am on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

>> As a webmaster, I know these links are sponsored, but studies show around 50% of general web surfers don't.

That's funny and IMO true. I was guiding someone on the telephone to check something and she said that #1 results was X. Surprised, I looked. It was a google ad :-)

Edge




msg:3614104
 12:44 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wasn't there just a thread where major sites like EPSN were saying they are pulling out of Adsense because of less quality ads?
walkman, it has been happening, I agree with you. IMHO Adsense is an excellent ad platform, however it will slowly become bottom of the barrel for bigger better publishers. Because if you are good, you sould be able to attract direct advertisers at multiples of what Adsense is paying you. I am sure big players already understood that. Formula to this is simple "Just charge a multiple of 2 or 3 from what Adsense pays you for that ad spot".

Interesting times.

I have been thinking the same for a long time. If a website has a good reason for advertisers to come, they will. Googles recent efforts to clean or spiff up the content Adsense folks may be a little late. They should have managed the content network better from the start.

TinkyWinky




msg:3614111
 1:00 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

At least they have another good reason by then

Well that could just be part of an overall strategy!

If they KNOW they are going to miss Q1 and Q2 due to the economic slowdown anyway, then changing things like click rollovers and ad format and positioning to ensure maximum clickthrough quality may as well be done right now.

A miss is a miss and the numbers they are talking about in the 100's of $millions / $billions, losing an additional $100 million thanks to quality will not affect the share
price - but leaving until later and then announcing the loss of money due to quality changes could spook the market again that G are losing their grip.

Just a thought!
TW

fearlessrick




msg:3614114
 1:03 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

On the above matter, for smaller publishers, I have found that multiples of much more than 2 or 3 times Adsense are realistic.

Because overall dollar amounts are lower with smaller ad buys, 5-8X adsense is more the norm.

rickhz




msg:3614151
 1:49 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

From Google's Case Studies:

"In addition to running ads on content pages, Sushko runs AdSense ads on his discussion forums, where he notes that the ads are easily visible but do not interfere with the user experience. He optimizes his revenue by ensuring that the ads match the color of the site and by trying out ads in a variety of locations."

Hmm, ensuring that the ads match the color of the site? Umm, isn't that blending?

And another:

"He has also been able to match AdSense ads with the color scheme on his website to deliver visual continuity that’s appealing to readers."

Matching color schemes? Isn't that blending?

mack




msg:3614169
 2:38 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

I see this as a way of dramaticaly increasing click quality. If a user clicks an ad thinking they are going to another page within the site, the back button is a tempting option.

Think of it like this...
If advertiser ROI goes up due to this, CPC may follow. Could work out well for publishers who follow the guidelines.

Mack.

wanderingmind




msg:3614209
 4:02 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is deliberate obfuscation on the part of Google, I think.

On the one hand, they have premium publishers who customise the ads to such an extent that it is difficult for an experienced publisher to distinguish between site content and ad.

On the other, you have new guidelines which are still vague enough that the only party who can make the call on what is right and wrong is Google.

Why would they do this?

So that they have full control over who they want to ban. The arbiter of what is right is G.

I am no silly conspiracy theorist. This new guideline gives too much power to Google.

(I am an Adsense case study, by the way. This is no joke for me. Generally, G loves me and I love G. But this is too unsettling for me too. I mean I have seen people who think that my ads are well blended, not blended, and too blended. How can I be sure?)

farmboy




msg:3614235
 4:41 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hmm, ensuring that the ads match the color of the site? Umm, isn't that blending?

...Matching color schemes? Isn't that blending?

If you read the blog post linked in the OP, you won't find the word "blending" - the word "blending" is a creation of this thread.

You'll also find the blog post provides two very specific examples, one concerning using misleading titles over ads and the other involves a publisher using text width, spacing, indentation, etc. in site content just above an AdSense display with the same text width, spacing, indentation, etc.

I don't see anything in the blog post that discourages matching ad color to site color. And it's not a distinction without a difference...at least it seems clear to me.

This is deliberate obfuscation on the part of Google, I think.

I think the obfuscation is in this thread. With all due respect, I think this thread has created concerns where none really exist unless you're engaging in practices Google has been warning against for years.

FarmBoy

europeforvisitors




msg:3614237
 4:46 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)


This doesn't seem to be a big deal to me

I agree. The examples given are pretty extreme. Unless publishers are trying to disguise ads as content, they shouldn't have anything to worry about.

zeus




msg:3614279
 5:56 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

that getting wierd first they say we have to fit it into the content, even getting a catalog from Google how to get the best out of it, now the best is the worst, means we are NOT alowed to do that, its good there are a lot of other providers of text links, because I dont have time for this silly changing.

europeforvisitors




msg:3614285
 6:05 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Zeus, they never said you had to "fit it into the content," and it should be obvious from the examples that they aren't talking about "silly changing"--they're merely warning against blatant attempts to deceive users into clicking on ads (i.e., the kind of thing we see in ersatz directories and scraper sites).

This is a non-issue for legitimate publishers.

Undead Hunter




msg:3614305
 6:36 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is nothing new, perhaps the first time its been laid out so clearly.

kamikaze Optimizer




msg:3614409
 10:51 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

It seems to me that when I see a site such as those used in the example, the only real content on the page are the ads themselves.

I think G may be preparing for another clean out of poor quality publishers.

purplecape




msg:3614474
 1:21 am on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm with farmboy and EFV (and several others).

Using your site's colors for AdSense so that visitors won't completely ignore them is blending, and is OK.

Concealing the AdSense block within a navigation bar or within content, and matching the text and layout of your text and the AdSense text as closely as possible is MORE than blending. It's masking (as someone said earlier) or extreme blending or just plain deception--doesn't matter what you call it.

The distinction is pretty clear, and it's also pretty clear to me that Google has not reversed direction or changed course. They've provided a useful clarification to guidelines (note that they aren't rules) that people used to complain were unclear.

If you see the AdSense blog past as a reversal, that may be because you had interpreted the blending idea as aggressively as possible, and now find yourself having to reverse what you did. Which requires work, and that's a pain in the neck. But at least it's clear what you have to do, and you can comfort yourself that this may mean more income down the road.

Scurramunga




msg:3614488
 1:49 am on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think that the only issue at hand here is one of timing. It would have been most prudent for people at Google to have made this latest clarification earlier on, perhaps at a time when they first blogged about the virtues of blending.

Not that I believe that Google's position has shifted at all on this issue; but rather it will always be a fact that some webmaster will always need more guidance than others in order to avoid being banned.

europeforvisitors




msg:3614491
 2:08 am on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not that I believe that Google's position has shifted at all on this issue; but rather it will always be a fact that some webmaster will always need more guidance than others in order to avoid being banned.

Natural selection is good for the species.

johnnie




msg:3614497
 2:24 am on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Seems G is doing a massive push for the content network.

potentialgeek




msg:3614543
 6:15 am on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

> Not that I believe that Google's position has shifted at all on this issue; but rather it will always be a fact that some webmaster will always need more guidance than others in order to avoid being banned.

When did Google shift its "Ads by Google" notice to the bottom of some ad blocks? EFV, you joined when Adsense started? Do you remember?

In my opinion, this isn't a big shift in position by Google on policy, with its latest "clarification." And you don't need to reformat your website if you're breaking its clarified policy.

Just put an "Ads by Google" notice above the ad block--until Google becomes a more ethical company and puts the notice at the top of all its ads.

Google could save everyone having to change their sites just by moving the ad notice to where it should be: where every ethical publishing company puts it every time.

Google has shifted its policy. Originally it was clear about Sponsored Results in its search engine results on the right-hand column.

See you can't have a "Sponsored Links" notice at the top of your SE results page, and have the "Ads by Google" at the bottom of Content Network ads, and claim you're being consistent.

If Google suddenly put its "Sponsored Links" notice at the bottom of its main Search pages, the FTC and everybody else would beat them senseless. But they move the "Ads by Google" to the bottom of ad blocks and nobody notices.

The FTC once commended Google for ethical notices above ads when other search engines were being unethical. You think the FTC would do the same for its current position?

Look at all these ad formats with the notice at the bottom:

https://www.google.com/adsense/static/en_US/AdFormats.html

(It looks bold enough in those colors, but many publishers don't use bright blue or borders. It's called blending.)

Un-believable!

p/g

[edited by: potentialgeek at 6:34 am (utc) on Mar. 30, 2008]

potentialgeek




msg:3614558
 7:00 am on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Let's go to the video, er, Adsense Blog.

Take a look at its 2006 posting heralding the merits of blending:

Unobtrusive ads can boost revenue [adsense.blogspot.com]

Google posts two website screen caps; one is the before [adsense.blogspot.com] (no blending); the other is after [adsense.blogspot.com] (with blending).

Google counters the expected deception claim by this statement:

"the 'Ads by Goooooogle' tagline clearly distinguishes the Google ads from the site content, so users aren't confused."

That's the shift!

Google used to have the 'Ads by Google' or 'Gooooogle' more visible, albeit below the ad, and now its off in the right corner. (Not so bad for Arab websites, but not the rest.)

p/g

P.S. The Adsense blog has other blending success stories.

kamikaze Optimizer




msg:3614567
 7:53 am on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

This thread would be of much more value to those concerned if we could all stop using the word "blended".

If you read the blog post linked in the OP, you won't find the word "blending" - the word "blending" is a creation of this thread.

Let's call a spade a spade...

The issue that Google has here is not with blending (one last use), Google has taken an issue with intentional deception; and rightfully so, IMHO.

[edited by: kamikaze_Optimizer at 7:55 am (utc) on Mar. 30, 2008]

Tiebreaker




msg:3614625
 10:32 am on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Is it OK to have a title or section heading, followed by a paragraph of your own content and then the google ad?

With more content below the ad too of course.

mmontala




msg:3614626
 10:36 am on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hello Guys,

This new optimization tip or guideline have keeping me thinking how will those ads shown under a heading or a title be implement. Many site have been using that strategy because it offers a good visibility to site users and highest CTR. But if you read the post carefully, it doesn't say that putting it under the title is totally forbidden.

The post says "Ads shouldn't be placed under a title or section heading in a way that implies that the ads are not ads."

"Google only disallows ads under titles or headings that may imply that the ads are created by the publisher as part of the blog content. So if you have titles or headings that say, for example, “The Best Free Deals” or “Click to see our best offers,” you cannot place Adsense ads below them."(source: pinoymoneytalk.com)

So in my opinion, Google only disallow specifically those titles or headings that entices the users to click the ads (e.g. titles such as “Dallas Business Opportunities” or “Today's Hot Deals”). It's in the adsense TOS that prohibits publishers to put words that encourages clicks.

Juan_G




msg:3614640
 11:09 am on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

From the Program Policies [google.com]:

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

This point -or similar- has been already for years on the AdSense policies.

Also, Support has talked always about blending correctly with the site style, and about avoiding user confusion. Look at the Google search results: ads are labeled as "Sponsored Links" but blended with the same style (in order to reduce ad blindness and increase ad reading). And they are not mixed with the search results, but in separate sections easily distinguishable by a border -on the right column- or a different background color -above- (in order to prevent user confusion).

Between the two extremes (ad blindness and user confusion), we should find the correct middle point for good conversions, with the ads as a good service for truly interested users. That is, ad reading without confused clicks.

So, nothing new in fact. As others on this thread, I think that article [adsense.blogspot.com] from Support was just a policy clarification.

rickhz




msg:3614704
 1:55 pm on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

You guys are making a big thing about the word "blended". Google's latest stand is that G links should not be the same color as regular links on a site. That folks is a 180 turn from their previous "optimization techniques".

"similarly, you should not place an ad unit by a group of links that has identical colors and line spacing. Doing so may cause users to think the ad unit is content created by you. In this situation, we recommend using a different color for the ad titles or indenting the ad unit to help distinguish the ads from your own content."

They have just created more work for their publishers who followed their previous optimization tips with no guarantee of compensation. If this were a "regular" job and they just asked you to put in over time would you jump up and say how much can I give you?

This is still posted on Google's site:

"In addition to running ads on content pages, Sushko runs AdSense ads on his discussion forums, where he notes that the ads are easily visible but do not interfere with the user experience. He optimizes his revenue by ensuring that the ads match the color of the site and by trying out ads in a variety of locations."

"He has also been able to match AdSense ads with the color scheme on his website to deliver visual continuity that’s appealing to readers."

Hmm, is that misleading enough?

rickhz




msg:3614705
 1:58 pm on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

"visual continuity" = blending.

walkman




msg:3614712
 2:21 pm on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Moral of the story: there is a line that one cannot describe it, but can see it when it is crossed. Do not fool people into thinking that ads are part of the content or making it very easy for them to click by accident (posting them near 'Submit' buttons etc.)

Roseb44170




msg:3614717
 2:36 pm on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Interesting thread and I say "interesting" because when I looked at my blog today I noticed that there weren't any ads on them and I thought it was because of some TOS that I had violated and didn't know about. The next thing I know - about an hour later - the ads were back!

I did notice that I had that robots.txt message about one of my sites on the 27th and I'm wondering if THAT had anything to do with it.

I'm also confused about this "content" thing. I mean if you're in violation of it do they take off the ads immediately? Do you get some kind of email warning? Does the fact that the ads are back on my sites mean that everything is OK?

europeforvisitors




msg:3614738
 3:12 pm on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

The issue that Google has here is not with blending (one last use), Google has taken an issue with intentional deception; and rightfully so, IMHO.

I doubt if many advertisers will be distressed about the banning of publishers who can't grasp the difference between acceptable blending and outright deception.

Also, publishers who can't grasp that difference have an easy solution: Don't blend. There's no rule that says they have to skate near the edge of the ice.

Juan_G




msg:3614774
 4:10 pm on Mar 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google's latest stand is that G links should not be the same color as regular links on a site.

Not at all. We should read Support's complete sentences [adsense.blogspot.com] -not just one or two words- and also we should look at the accompanying images. They write there about a specific situation where Google ads look almost exactly like a group of site links mixed with the ads.

You know, most of the time we as web surfers do not read, we just scan pages in very few seconds. Let those without sin cast the first stone. ;)

Again, look at Google's search result pages: Ads and search results have the same link color, but they are distinguishable by a border or a different background color, because otherwise they look very similar.

Of course, since that's only a specific case, it seems that borders and different colors are still unnecessary in other cases where the site content -articles, etc.- is clearly different from ads.

[edited by: Juan_G at 4:15 pm (utc) on Mar. 30, 2008]

This 91 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 91 ( 1 [2] 3 4 > >
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