I have had many questions from publisher who have noticed that the new competitive ads policy no longer specifically states that you cannot run other contextually targeted ads on the same page. This change was made as part of the AdSense policies update yesterday.
Prior to yesterday’s policies update, the section in question read (emphasis mine):
Competitive Ads and Services
We do not permit Google ads or search boxes accessing Google search services to be published on web pages that also contain what could be considered competing ads or services. If you have elected to receive contextually-targeted Google ads, this would include all other contextually-targeted ads or links on the same page as Google ads. This would also include ads throughout the site that mimic Google ads or otherwise appear to be associated with Google on your site. Although you may sell ads directly on your site, it is your responsibility to ensure these ads do not mimic Google ads. If you have elected to receive Google search services, this would include other search services on the same site and non-Google query-targeted ads. We do allow affiliate or limited-text links.
The new policies changed this to read:
Competitive Ads and Services 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.
Removed was the specific reference to contextuall targeted ads. So the immediate assumption is that using other contextually targeted ads – whether IntelliTXT, Yahoo Publisher Network or another ad network – as long as the ads were formatted in a way that makes them appear different from other AdSense ads. However, there is a slight problem with this… the AdSense terms still prevent publishers from using other contextually targeted ads on a page with AdSense on it too.
The AdSense terms state clearly:
If You have elected to receive content or Site-based Ads, You further agree not to display on any Serviced Page any non-Google content-targeted advertisement(s).
So as it stands, the AdSense Terms & Conditions would also need to change in order for publishers to be able to run other contextual ads on the same page as AdSense. This was why I didn’t go into very much detail about this change… because the AdSense terms still wouldn’t allow publishers to use those competitors on the same page.
If Google does in fact allow AdSense to run on the same page as other contextually targeted ads, this could set up a situation where potentially publishers could run both AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network on the same page, provided they both had different color palettes. But unfortunately for publishers, YPN would also also need to change their terms in order to do this, since YPN currently does not allow other contextually targeted ads on the same page as their YPN ads. From the YPN terms:
For any webpage or RSS feed that includes the Ad Code, you agree not to display or link to any other advertising (including but not limited to any listing) that is mapped to or responds to the content of the Ad Page.
Will either AdSense or YPN change their program terms to allow the other company’s ads on the same page as their own ads? Possibly. And it would definitely make a lot of publishers happy and remove some of that anti-competitor feeling that the policy has always given publishers.
I have contacted Google about this situation with whether or not other contextual ads will be allowed with AdSense provided the palettes were different. I will keep you updated on this once I hear a response back. But as it stands, it is still against the AdSense terms all publishers agreed to when we signed up for AdSense.