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Google AdSense quietly updates their policies regarding chat programs & iframes

IFrames are so 1990s but alas there are probably some webmasters out there that are still displaying their AdSense ad units via iframes. And AdSense has quietly updated their AdSense policies a few days ago to include that AdSense ad units can no longer be served within iframes.

AdSense code may not be altered, nor may the standard behavior, targeting or delivery of ads be manipulated in any way that is not explicitly permitted by Google. This includes but is not limited to the following: clicking Google ads may not result in a new browser window being launched, nor may Google ads be placed in an IFRAME

This isn’t much of a surprising change. After all, showing AdSense in iframes often meant mistargeted ads for people using it legitimately, and there was seldom reason to use it legitimately, except in cases of some old school CMS systems and ad managers that used iframes as a way of delivering content.

Not surprisingly, however, the most common usage I ever saw of iframes was by less legitimate AdSense publishers who used iframes to game the system. One of the tricks I saw included inserting supposed high paying keywords into the iframe with the ad unit, but having no other content within the iframe (however, I probably don’t need to tell you about the fact that those supposed high paying ads are seldom clicked when they are on pages of unreleated content). The other thing I frequently saw, but which would also get a compliancy warning or suspension for the publisher, was inserting the AdSense ad unit into an iframe that was smaller than the ad unit, in order for the “Ads by Google” to be hidden, so that publishers could blend the ad units within the content resulting in people clicking the ads because they were tricked into thinking they were links within the site and not ads.

The other change is the addition to disallowing AdSense on chat programs, something I have noticed with more frequency over the last year or so, as more sites implement their own chat programs.

Under the Ad Placement section of the AdSense policies:

Google ads, search boxes or search results may not be:
•Integrated into a software application of any kind, including toolbars.
•Displayed in pop-ups or pop-unders.
•Placed in emails, email programs, or chat programs.
•Obscured by elements on a page.
•Placed on any non-content-based page. (Does not apply to AdSense for search or mobile AdSense for search.)
•Placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads.
•Placed on pages whose content or URL could confuse users into thinking it is associated with Google due to the misuse of logos, trademarks or other brand features.
•Placed on, within or alongside other Google products or services in a manner that violates the policies of that product or service.

I know some sites/companies were given compliancy warnings and/or suspended for running AdSense within software applications, including chat programs (since AdSense cannot target within software).

The other possibility is that Google is possibility working on their own end-user chat application where publishers could add a Google chat program to their websites that they could earn AdSense earnings from the ads displayed. It wouldn’t take much for many AdSense publishers to switch from a third-party chat program – especially since many of them charge for the service – and utilize a Google one they could earn money from.

If you are running a chat program in an iframe on a webpage that also has other content on the page, it should be okay to still show AdSense on those pages, as long as the script isn’t auto-reloading the page – and the AdSense ads – at regular intervals.

If you are serving ads within an iframe, you should remove them from the iframe and serve them directly on the content of the page. Remember, you agreeing to the terms of service also means you agree to adhere to the policies, even if/when they change. Likewise, if you are running AdSense within a chat program, you will probably want to remove it ASAP so it doesn’t jeopordize your entire AdSense account by doing so.

Thanks to Digital-Inspiration for noticing the iframe policy change which caused me to dive in and analyze all the AdSense policies and notice the chat change.

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