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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.
[edited by: engine at 4:23 pm (utc) on Mar. 28, 2008]
[edit reason] added quote and permalink [/edit]
As a side note, I love that they finally (claim to) address this issue, but I am sceptic whether they actually enforce this.
The first is that the blending in these examples both place ads where a typical user might be expecting to see content (for example, immediately below the title).
Second, I'm thinking Google itself used to be in violation with these guidelines (sponsor results below the search box). Certainly sites like Ask and AOL seem to be in violation.
From what I've seen in the past, I don't think this type of clarification hurts Google's bottom line. Preventing accidental clicks on ad blocks across the board, by reducing the clickable area of a text ad? Yes, that seemed to give them short term pain (but should help with long-term credibility). But they've been implementing rules like this (or, in some cases, suddenly enforcing what seems to me to be a common sense interpretation of their guidelines) from the start without any observable impact on their revenues.
The cynical side of me might argue that they hold off on implementing this type of restriction until they are reasonably confident that they have enough opportunities for impressions that the reduction in clicks resulting from enforcement of the guidelines will be offset by a similar number of clicks on compliant sites. Fortunately, I'm not cynical so I would never suggest such a thing.
That still holds true. What they are saying now is that ads must not be set up in an identical manner to content or navigation--yes, you want visitors to look at them, but not to confuse them with site content.
I would think that most site owners already comply with these guidelines, which I think are a WELCOME clarification. We now have some much more specific guidance as to what is OK and what is not.
Google has to take the blame, too. It puts the Ads by Google out of sight at the bottom of the ad block [bp0.blogger.com]. See this example [bp3.blogger.com], too.
If they were at the top, it wouldn't be putting out this notice!
Blending ads without an advertising notice at the top in plain view--the advertising industry standard--is inherently deceptive.
Every ad block, not just a few, needs the notice at the top.
Ads by Google
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Sigh..... I hope they send this little note to their strategist/optimization team so everyone at AdSense tells publishers the same story.
I already did with mine after he commented on one ad located on a popular page. I removed the ad immediately. Mine was not that blended, however I prefer my visitors understand that are clicking on an ad.
I cleared our current ad implementations last year with our rep but I guess I am going to have to reclear them as "blending" is now being frowned upon.
However, considering all the junk ads that appear on AdSense, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at this:
As you can imagine, users who click on ads that they think are publisher-created content may lose trust in your site and decide not to return in the future. It's important to keep their interests in mind, as well as your own.
Also, the AdSense blog recently announced a site as a contest winner for commendable use of AdSense. The site had ads very similar to the example No. 2 which purports to show a site that does not follow the guidelines.
I was always of the opinion that blending too tight, like Google's examples, was akin to enticing click fraud IMO and it was just a matter of time before the shoe dropped when the advertisers discovered the high bounce rate of visitors tricked to click.
Glad this detail (publishers not trying to trick people into clicking ads) has started to be highlighted. It's another good step towards persuading advertisers that there are some in the content network that might like to work with them. With much more of the same we might even persuade them not to turn the content network off by default.
See below article:
Google's sluggish performance is being attributed to several factors. The more common explanations are Google's move to crack down on both fraudulent and accidental clicks. Catching bogus clicks early and policing accordingly is good. Narrowing the clickable link window within ads to make sure mostly interested visitors go through is honorable. However, what if the problem is deeper than that? What if ad blindness is kicking in, with greater reluctance to click through on Google's paid search ads?
We saw this happen with banner ads in the mid-90s. They were all the rage at first, until Web users began to disregard them. Google's paid search ads are superior, especially with the dot-com giant's ability to target ads relevant to both the content and user, but no one said the party would last forever.
Something is happening: the king of content, CNET is suffering, and Answer.com, despite the tons of traffic and articles is not even making $3 million a quarter.
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".
1) blending the colours used in the advert to it matches the colour scheme of the page though by placing the advert in a div and giving it a clear border of a few px so it is obvious its separate from the page document
2) blending were it is something I would call blatant blending i.e in the example were it is trying to pass off the adverts as being part of the document, not separate.
Personally I dont want to make my adverts stand out, while I do want to earn money, I want my pages to look easy to the eye and readable as well as providing some value, I do use the same colour scheme as my page for the ad colours, but I do make them separate by means of a clear border so its obvious they are not my content.
Got to www.google.com
do a search
On my laptop screen, the light blue background for the top paid ads is not visible.
The "sponsored ads" message is right over on the right hand side and I would not normally look there.
It seems to me this is an attempt to make the surfer believe these are premium, featured, best results.... not paid listings not worthy of a top ranking.
As a webmaster, I know these links are sponsored, but studies show around 50% of general web surfers don't.
They do not meet googles own guidelines, coming before the real content that the surfer was looking for.
Can we assume then if its ok by google, it must be ok for publishers to make this this slight difference... which in reality will make the google ads appear to be premium, featured listings?