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Isn't blending ads against TOS?

Its very difficult to distinguish ads from content

     
9:52 pm on Nov 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Those of us who are into the business of running sites can tell, but most users won't be able to discriminate the ads from content. As someone who is used to seeing ads all the time on sites, even I was almost fooled into thinking the ads on there was content. They have blended the ads almost perfectly and no doubt see very high CTR as a result.

They are obviously a premium publisher because they have many ad links in a single unit, and in the past I have seen them have more than three standard ad units on a page.
8:56 am on Nov 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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A few months back when I had contact with adsense support they volunteered (completely unrelated to the issue at hand) that I'd use the same color scheme in the ads than in my content. This means that they suggested that I would blend the ads almost completely in with the content.
I'm by far no premium publisher.

It's one of the schizophrenic sides of google's adsense program: those telling you what to do and those punishing you for what not to do aren't talking to one another. And it goes as far as that those telling you what to do tell you to do things you'd be punished for doing. And they've been doing this for years now.

If only they had a bit more senior staff.
11:10 am on Nov 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@Automotive
Was talking about this April 2011
[webmasterworld.com...]

Premium AdSense publishers get to play by a different set of rules. Them's the breaks.
3:01 pm on Nov 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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No, blending ads is not against TOS, as long as the ads are distinguishable from the content. It's a fine line to navigate, though. If you don't feel you can walk it safely, then it's probably better to use more contrasting ads.

Part of it is how you define blending ads. I have no problems using the same styling in ads that I use in the site (blue links, red hover, underlines, for example) but generally I will put a border on the ad, use a slightly different background color, or at least some extra padding to offset it from the content.

As with everything, you have to test it, too. On some of my sites, the more blended ads work better, and on other sites, the fuglier the ads, the better they perform.
11:04 pm on Nov 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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An Adsense guy once told me to move down an ad on the page. I said if I did that, it would be right next to some navigation links. He said to put a simple line between the ad and the navigation links. It looks dumb, and there is not a lot of distinquishing between the ad and the links, but he said it is okay.
9:59 pm on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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It's one of the schizophrenic sides of google's adsense program: those telling you what to do and those punishing you for what not to do aren't talking to one another. And it goes as far as that those telling you what to do tell you to do things you'd be punished for doing. And they've been doing this for years now.


This happened to me. I was invited to have a personal review of the ads on my site by AdSense, and was subsequently told to remove the borders from my ads and blend colors. CTR improved dramatically and so did earnings.

Then I got a warning from someone else at AdSense telling me that I was not in compliance with TOS and I had three days to conform or my account would be cancelled.

I emailed the original person, who no longer worked there, but received a reply from someone else, saying they had looked into my case, confirmed what I said was true, and apologizing for the bad advice. But still.
4:17 pm on Nov 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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"No, blending ads is not against TOS, as long as the ads are distinguishable from the content."

I'm getting really annoyed at the ads which are just images of a download button. They often appear on pages with legitimate download links and are easily confused with the real download links.

And ... the ads often lead to downloads infested with malware.
7:28 pm on Nov 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Are you sure those are Google ads? I've seen them, but the ones I noticed were some other ad network.

No idea if Google allows that.
8:17 pm on Nov 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google is a large company. Sometimes one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing and wouldn't approve. If you follow any advice from a Google employee, make sure he/she is from Google and document all conversation should you be punished in the future.
12:47 am on Nov 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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If you follow any advice from a Google employee, make sure he/she is from Google and document all conversation should you be punished in the future

Personally and I haven't been in that situation, I'd ask for a confirmation email.
10:51 pm on Nov 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Just a few more words about the hypocrisy of Google/Adsense:

For the average-joe publisher, you aren't supposed to place a drop-down menu that it encroaches over an Adsense ad's space.

Now, take a look at any Google SERP's page that has page-top paid links and click either the "more" or "search tools" tabs.

Yes, it's ok for them to get an accidental click. For us, we'd be accused of "fraudulent clicks."

Google ceased being one of the good-guys quite a while back.
11:45 pm on Nov 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google ceased being one of the good-guys quite a while back.


I guess it all depends on your experience but mine has been positive, especially when compared to other Ad Networks.
1:55 am on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google ceased being one of the good-guys quite a while back.


Adsense is helping me pay my bills and more, so I don't think of them as the bad guy. Huge and powerful, yes, but bad, no.
11:14 am on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google ceased being one of the good-guys quite a while back


I think the poster was getting at the fact that G have their own set of rules as far as their SERPS are concerned which are quite different from the rules they apply to us. Undeniably that is true, in lots of ways.

The fact that some of us have earned good money using G is not the point. It's not particularly pleasant where a massive company imposes a strict set of rules on their partners and yet themselves trample all over those rules.