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July 29, 2006

Unbranded AdSense ads being tested

For a couple of weeks, mack has occassionally seen AdSense ad units on Ranx.co.uk that are unbranded, without showing the "Ads by Goooooogle" or the "Advertise on this site" that normally displays in his ad units. He was able to grab a screenshot of it the last time he saw it show up:


These are appearing in both banner sized ad units as well as the large rectangle ad unit.

Back in the early days of AdSense, publishers had the ability to "hide" the Ads by Google branding on the ad units, and most people definitely saw a higher CTR when the branding was gone. The primary reason for this was very simply that the ad units weren't branded as advertising, and people seemed to give them a second look. However, advertisers weren't quite as happy about the situation, especially when publishers then tried to disguise these unbranded ad units as links within the webpage or article, hoping visitors would click them and not realize they were actually ads.

I know many publishers would welcome the ability to run ad units without the Google branding. Currently, only premium publishers can display their ad units without the Google reference. So it is interesting that this is something AdSense is testing once again, albiet on a very limited basis.

Posted by Jenstar at July 29, 2006 09:47 AM


The whole point behind getting ads to "blend in" as a form of "optimization" is based on the idea that people will believe it's content at first: link units that appear as navigation, etc. There's a fine distinction between that and just tricking people. If a user believes the ad is content at first, she will be more likely to read it than if she believed it was an ad. Once she has read it, she will know it's an ad, but the ad message might be highly relevant, which is the whole point. I wouldn't mind seeing some of these on my site at all. :)

Posted by: Michael Martine at July 29, 2006 06:11 PM

I saw the same thing on my site. Unbranded leaderboard with four ad units and there is also a small image on the left side (http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/verticals/110/88296032.jpg)

Posted by: iprogram at July 29, 2006 06:19 PM

Seriously people, how long can you continue to say with a straight face that you love the higher clickthroughs when people can't tell that they are clicking on ads, and also say that you don't want to blur the moral distinction between ads and content?

Why doesnt Google just take it to the next step and start showing paid search results in the exact same font and color and organic results, but put them at the top?

Do you guys have any morals left at all? Or is anything that tricks someone into clicking on an ad considered ok in your book? I'm serious- what is the moral position most people are taking on this issue? Is it "whatever makes me the most money" or what?

Posted by: james at July 30, 2006 09:32 PM

This would be great. Theres no morals in advertising James :)

Posted by: PreZ at July 31, 2006 02:36 PM

Interesting. And it should be more attractive in 'international markets' where multi-lingual ads can be used without referrence.

Posted by: Zeid at August 2, 2006 05:21 AM

PreZ- no morals in advertising, then perhaps its time to change Google's slogan from "Don't be evil" to "There are no morals in advertising."

Probably wouldn't help their fan base, or their stock price.

Posted by: james at August 2, 2006 08:43 AM

I think Google make this option only for Google Adsense Premium Partners. I don´t think this option is for everyone

Posted by: erik at August 2, 2006 09:47 AM

So if you make Google a lot of money, they'll drop their morals?

Posted by: james at August 2, 2006 10:43 AM

Who are the premium partners? How do you become premium partners?

Posted by: Dennis at August 2, 2006 10:49 AM

To become premium partners, google from time to time on their adsense website mentions that they are accepting applications for premium partners, but I believe, they will allow you only if you have at least few 10s thousand pages views a day. I was interested in know about it and the GOOGLE Adsense support team mention me about this.

Posted by: Ketan Patel at August 2, 2006 01:05 PM

One of my webiste do 10's thousand impression per day. Will that do?

Posted by: Dennis at August 2, 2006 04:29 PM

Oh, that would not work. The website only have 6,000 pageviews per day.

Posted by: Dennis at August 2, 2006 10:09 PM

I also get unbranded ads many times, but most of these are image ads..

Posted by: Hitesh at August 6, 2006 12:13 PM

I've noticed also that some of the ads appearing on my sites have dropped the reference URL. At first I thought I had accidently coded it white (insted of the pink I wanted) but no, there is just no URL shown, however the "advertise on this site" and "Ads by Google" still appear.

I guess this is another version Google is testing.

Posted by: Julia at August 6, 2006 07:20 PM

Yup, it's only for premium users, people like us are not good enough to use it, GOogle only cares if you helping make them more rich and powerful! I'm sure if you agreed to buy a million shares, you could get a premium account ;)

Posted by: Google Humper at September 15, 2006 09:14 AM