Since yesterday, everyone has been buzzing about a new implementation of AdSense ads provided by AdImpact.com, which places an AdSense ad unit in a floating yellow image that looks very much like a Post-It note. As the user scrolls, the ad floats down the screen, in the same ad position. From a user experience standpoint, it is quite an obtrusive and in-your-face ad unit implementation.
It utlizes DHTML layers to display the ad units, with it being served in an iframe on the actual content page. It is only available as a monthly subscription ($19.95+ per month) through AdImpact, although I suspect there is code freely available that would allow publishers to implement their own.
Here is an example of their ad unit, but keep in mind that as you scroll, it continues to float.
On one site I saw it implemented on, the ad unit was in the middle of the page, and stayed front and center as you scrolled and tried to read the content. Users do have the option of closing the box. On another site, the pop-up covered over another AdSense ad unit, which again was also clearly in violation of the AdSense policies.
However, when I first saw it, my first reaction was “this can’t be allowed”. And part of that is in part as how you define what a pop-up is, since publishers are not allowed to display ad units within pop-ups. From a user perspective, these are pop-ups, however from an implementation standpoint, they use layers instead of a new window as most pop-ups use.
So I decided to go straight to AdSenseAdvisor to get the scoop, because I was fairly certain that these must have hit the support team’s radar as well. And yes, these are considered to be pop-ups from the AdSense Team’s perspective.
Also, from an advertiser perspective, I don’t think I would be pleased to see my advertisement displayed in such a way that seems to beg “Click Me” even when the person clicking might not be interested in whatever I happened to be advertising. I mentioned that I thought this implentation draws undue attention to the ads, and AdSenseAdvisor agreed.
“Yes, certainly. Additionally, they provide a poor user experience, and Google believes strongly in providing a positive user experience” AdSenseAdvisor said. “A general rule of thumb is that ads should always be placed in the primary content frame of a page — first and foremost this is to ensure content-targeting works effectively. Also, it provides a more positive user experience.”
So the final verdict is that this type of implementation is not allowed to be used by publishers. However, judging from the comments I have been reading, and the fact there hasn’t seemed to be a flurry of publishers implementing them right away, publishers probably don’t find this decision surprising at all. However, it is an interesting implementation for other uses, such as for newsletter subscriptions or special alerts on websites.