It’s Google AdSense Policy Update Time!
We have had the same Google AdSense policies in place since March 2006, and with recent changes being made to things such as how publishers can use images with their ad units, I knew an updated Google AdSense Policy wasn’t too far behind. And the policies have now been updated and revamped with a new order and look, and with one very significant change.
The policies have also been rewritten with some sections combined in order to make it easier for publishers to read and understand. Most of the legalese is also gone, which is nice.
I also talked with Google before this went live, so I have gotten clarification on some of the points below, to help answer any questions publishers may have had with the new changes.
First, the smaller changes.
Publishers were previously restricted to having up to only four referral products, each with one button only, on their page at a time. However, there is now the text referrals available, something that wasn’t reflected in the new policies. Now, they have changed it to allow publishers to place up to two referral links/buttons on the page, without being limited to only four products.
Up to two referral units from each referral product or offering may be displayed on a page, in addition to the ad units, search boxes, and link units specified above
I also wonder if this could be a sign that some new referral products might be on the way?
Referral offerings must be made without any obligation or requirement to end users. Publishers may not solicit email addresses from users in conjunction with AdSense referral units.
I must say, I am not surprised to see this. I was seeing all kinds of gimmicks going on, especially for Google Pack, requiring visitors to submit email addresses or other information before being rerouted to a landing page to “claim their prize” of one of the free downloads from Google via an AdSense referral button.
AdSense ad units with images next to them
The least surprising of them all, AdSense has added rules regarding the use of images next to AdSense ad units.
- May not direct user attention to the ads via arrows or other graphical gimmicks
- May not place misleading images alongside individual ads
This was simply bringing it inline with the blog post they made about this last month, where they disallowed images next to ads that could be confused with being a part of the ad unit itself..
AdSense for Search
With the custom AdSense for Search option available for publishers, it looks like you can also place an ad link unit on that search results page now.
AdSense for search results pages may show only a single ad link unit in addition to the ads Google serves with the search results. No other ads may be displayed on your search results page.
Would be something good to put as a 728 width in the footer just incase a searcher doesn’t find what they are looking for in the results.
The reference to domain parking has been removed. However, placing AdSense on domain parked pages is still against the policies, and falls under the clause about not running AdSense on no content pages.
Selling or distributing student essays
The following has now been added to the “site may not include” section of the policies.
Sales or distribution of term papers or student essays
I am not sure how widespread AdSense is on sites that are selling or distrubuting term papers and essays, but a quick look at search results for a few different terms show a lot sites with AdSense (as well as premium partner AdSense) in the results, including plenty of arbitrage sites. It must be enough that they are deciding to add this new policy, which falls under the copyright issue as well.
Formerly, this section read:
In order to avoid associations with copyright claims, website publishers may not display Google ads on web pages with MP3, Video, News Groups, and Image Results.
Now it reads:
Website publishers may not display Google ads on web pages with content protected by copyright law unless they have the necessary legal rights to display that content. Please see our DMCA policy for more information.
I did clarify that this still does cover the same things as before, such as MP3, video, news groups and image results. It could also cover anything else that is copyrighted, such as stolen content, something many publishers have a problem with.
Competitive Ads and Services
This is by and far the most significant change, and the one that will affect a lot of publishers, myself included.
In order to prevent user confusion, we do not permit Google ads or search boxes to be published on websites that also contain other ads or services formatted to use the same layout and colors as the Google ads or search boxes on that site. Although you may sell ads directly on your site, it is your responsibility to ensure these ads cannot be confused with Google ads.
In a nutshell, this change means that if you have any non-Google ads on your site that resemble AdSense – even if they are not contextually targeted ads – they will now put you in violation of the AdSense policies. If they look like your Google ads, even if they say “Ads by Jenstar” or whatever, you cannot use them on the same *site* as AdSense ads, even if they never appear on the same page. This would also include A/B testing where you rotate ads for testing purposes.
This is such a significant change, I am going to make a separate posting about the issue to deal with this, including the feedback I received from Google on how to use other ads, even if they aren’t contextual, so there are not compliancy issues that could get a publisher a warning or suspension. Read my analysis on this change here.
You read it here first 😉 The new policies can be found here.
Update: I have also discussed the implications of Google removing specific mention of contextually targeted ads from the competitive ads policy.