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January 19, 2007

It's official! You can now run AdSense on the same page as other contextual ad programs

When Google updated their AdSense policies this week, there was a lot of confusion about the removal of the a certain part of the competitive ad policy, namely the one that saw the removal of the following:

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.

Yet, as I posted yesterday, its removal from the policy pages did not mean much in itself, as the AdSense terms still included a clause (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).) that would prevent other contextual ads on the same page.

I followed up with Google on the situation, to find out of the removal of the clause would mean that competitor's ads would be allowed on the same page as AdSense, provided they didn't resemble or mimic AdSense ads, and that the AdSense terms would eventually be updated to reflect this policy change. And the answer is yes!

I spoke with Brian Axe, senior product manager on the Google AdSense Team on the issue. "As you and others have noticed, the AdSense Terms and Conditions haven't been updated since 2005, and we're working on an update to the Terms to bring everything into line. Traditionally, we don't update the Terms as frequently, since all publishers must re-agree to the Terms whenever they change."

"When it comes to enforcing policies on third-party contextual ads, we'll be following the updated program policies instead of the T&Cs on this point. That is to say, publishers may now display other contextual ads on the same site or page as Google ads as long as they don't have the same look and feel as our ads," Brian Axe tells Jennifer Slegg of JenSense.

So what does this mean for AdSense publishers? Well, it depends what you want to use with it. Using Yahoo Pubisher Network is still a no go, because the YPN terms still contain a clause (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) preventing publishers from using another contextual ad network on the same page as YPN ads. However, I am following up with Yahoo on this issue to find out if they will be loosening this clause now or in the future to permit AdSense and YPN to run on the same page. I will update you on this issue if I get information about whether or not YPN will decide to do this.

However IntelliTXT is one I get plenty of questions on, and publishers can definitely run IntelliTXT with AdSense, provided the pop-up does not either mimic AdSense ads or obscure any AdSense ad units running on the same page.

And any other contextual ads are now fine to run, provided their own terms do allow other contextual ads on the same page, and they do not mimic the AdSense ad units on the page you currently run.

How can you ensure they aren't mimicking your AdSense? If you are using the border-less technique, the simplest solution is to add a border or change the background color of the competitor's ad unit. It is still unclear just how much of the text within a blended ad unit (an ad unit that matches the border and background to the background of the webpage) would have to be changed, but I would guess all three elements would need changing, the colors of the title, description text and the URL. So it is obviously easier to just throw up a different border or background on to the ad unit to make its appearance substantially different from your AdSense ad unit. The you can work on tweaking it later without borders once we get more confirmation on just how much of the text color needs to be changed within an ad unit to ensure you are not breaking AdSense policies. And of course, you can always contact Google support on this issue to ensure that your competitive ad units are different enough to satisfy the AdSense compliancy team.

All in all, this change is good because it does allow publishers to use competitive ad products on the same page as AdSense, something that was previously not allowed under the program policies. You just simply need to ensure that any other ads you use (whether contextually targeted or not) do not resemble the AdSense ads you run anywhere on that same site.

Update: I spoke with Yahoo Publisher Network on this issue, and they say that as of today, page level exclusivity still exists. This means you still cannot run YPN on the same page as another contextual ad network. However, they will listen to publisher feedback on this issue and take it into consideration for future YPN terms updates.

Update 2: I have had a few questions regarding whether using the same ad unit sizes would constitute having the "same look and feel", and some others are reporting that using anything in an ad unit in the same style as Google's (such as using something that looks like YPN) would violate this policy. Fortunately for publishers, the answer is no, just the fact the ad units share the same styling (as nearly all contextual ad networks do) will not break the policy as long as you take care to change the color schemes used by each.

Botton line, this means you can use the same ad unit sizes from two different programs, as long as there are clear differences in the color scheme (and things such as borders or backgrounds) used by your Google ads. It is also worth noting thaty proximity of the competitive ad units to each other also comes into factor when making changes to your site by adding competitive ads. I asked Brian Axe from AdSense to clear up just how different the ad units need to be so publishers do not inadvertantly violate the policy.

""We're asking that publishers use good judgment on how much they change the colors or formatting of the ads to ensure users don't confuse third-party ads with Google ads. Proximity plays a role as well - if you're placing the ad units directly adjacent to one another, we'd ask that you use clear borders and offsetting colors to indicate where one network's ad unit ends and the other begins. If the ad units are on opposite sides of the page, using different backgrounds colors and/or a different color scheme for ad text and borders should be fine. Ad units that are virtually indistinguishable from the Google ads on a site would certainly violate the spirit of this policy," Brian says.

Posted by Jenstar at January 19, 2007 10:44 AM


Presumably this does open up the possibility of running Amazon's self-optimizing ads? If so, good news!

Posted by: James Hatts at January 19, 2007 11:34 AM

In response to James, according to emails I've received from Google, you always could run Amazon's self-optimizing and Omakase(?) ads alongside AdSense.

Posted by: Ian Feavearyear at January 19, 2007 12:12 PM

Thx Jen... Great information !!!
Why Yahoo still don't understand that the competition is good and this is beneficial for all the parts?? well, hope they consider this for their next term update...

Posted by: Manuel Ramirez at January 19, 2007 09:03 PM


I only hope people don't take too much advantage as, on the whole, webpages will begin to look even more disheveled than they already do.

Having too many ads is tacky!


Posted by: Scott Weaver at January 20, 2007 04:05 AM

great. i hope they google will again allow images next to ads...


Posted by: agloco at January 20, 2007 07:20 AM

So true!! I am very happy of this..

get the truth on digg: http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/index.php/digg

- Chris Larberg, UCLA, Wikipedia Administrator.

Posted by: Chris Larberg at January 20, 2007 07:25 AM

YPN are crazy if they don't amend their terms in a similar way. This opens the door for them to get ads on a lot more pages which are currently exclusively Adsense.


Posted by: Paul Gilchrist at January 20, 2007 07:40 AM

Once again, looks like Yahoo! is slow to react to the changes in the marketplace. My guess is that it will take them 1-2 months to remove this clause. By the time they do this, we all will have selected partners and have no use for them. Continued lack of innovation.


Posted by: Ken Hanscom at January 20, 2007 08:06 AM

Its like showing respect to YPN and welcoming the competition.

Posted by: Mong at January 20, 2007 08:17 AM

I am using Adsense on my forum at http://www.360nigeria.com and the earnings are poverty-inducing. Allowing competitive contextual ads is great news and I will implement. Thanks Jenny Darling.

Posted by: iteye at January 20, 2007 08:29 AM

It is funny that a couple of days ago it seemed like Google was restricting the use of adsense by using the DMCA restrictions and now it comes out that the use of more than one type of monetization on a blog is fine with them.

I always look at Adsense as a lowest common denominator on my site as I only get 10-30 cents per click as opposed to $20 dollars or so for a clickbank book sales or $1 or so from a Amazon book sale. Don't get me wron, adsense has been very good to me and is still my highest income source on a monthly basis and I am very exited to see that I can use the new Amazon contextual ads on the pages that I have adsense on.

Good new story here for sure!

Posted by: Bill Nad at January 20, 2007 08:38 AM

10-30 cents is quite a good margin, comparing to what I am getting sometimes... a few clicks for not more than 10 cent. But, of course there are those who really pays well, and it is once in a blue moon.

Nonetheless, I will still continue to monitor and support Adsense, as they are probably the most reliable CPC as I know.

Posted by: Keith at January 20, 2007 09:08 AM

This is definitely good news, google shouldn't enforce rules like not allowing competitors, they should do like they've always done and win by the pure relevance of their results. I do agree that they shouldn't let you make yahoo ads look just like google ads though...

Posted by: Motorcycle Guy at January 20, 2007 12:49 PM

This is fascinating news. Can anyone suggest what additional sevices I should run on my blog successbooks.blogspot.com ?

Posted by: Manny at January 20, 2007 06:14 PM

Thanks Jen,
I was wondering about YPN and your update answered my question.

Posted by: Ravenii at January 20, 2007 08:04 PM

Great article. And thanks for reading the policy for us!

Posted by: Jerr at January 20, 2007 10:49 PM

Thanks Jen.
Is this change in terms also relevant for image ads from adsense? They mimic of course other banner ads.

Posted by: Florian at January 21, 2007 02:26 AM

This is a comment from Digg, "Although now you are allowed to have other contextual ads on the same page as Adsense but I am sure you will earn the same as when you have only Google Adsense on the your web page. Google can easily track that you have other other contextual ads on your web pages and so will decrease your commission dramatically. Even having more ordinary internal or external links on the pages will decrease the commission you can earn from Adsense."

Is there any truth to this?

Does anyone see any downsides to using another contextual based ad unit on the same page as Adsense?

Thanks Jen for the great post!

Posted by: Amber at January 22, 2007 08:19 AM

So is Google evil now?

I remember the last post I read on this blog, and it got plenty of feedback about how evil Google is. What about now?

Is Yahoo evil? (based on how they are handling the same situation?)

Posted by: J.P. at January 22, 2007 04:54 PM

Hi Jen,
Both Google and Yahoo need to be careful that their policies do not cross the line into anti-competiveness. They are both approaching
Monopoly status to a degree and other smaller players in the Ad space may have a claim against this kind of exclusionary policy making. What do you think?

Posted by: Arius at January 23, 2007 10:12 AM