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AdSense: More Changes to Confuse Publishers

Tyler Banfield, 05-08-2007
If you have ever visited any of the large webmaster forums like Digital Point, then you probably noticed that a lot of webmasters spend a lot of time worrying about what will happen if AdSense bans them. In the past, the majority of Google’s guidelines for AdSense were relatively straight forward. As long as you followed these guidelines and didn't try anything sneaky, your chances of getting banned from AdSense were virtually nonexistent. However, Google has recently made some changes to their AdSense program policies. Unfortunately, these changes are not exactly clear cut, and as a result, even more publishers are now on edge. Let's take a look at the two changes that have generated the most buzz throughout the webmaster sphere:

Ad and image placement (12/18/06)
Although Google had actually tested placing images next to ad units, in December 2006 they told AdSense publishers that this practice was misleading and not acceptable. They stated that images should not be used in a way that makes them look associated with an ad unit. The reason that this caused such a stir is that although they showed unacceptable examples of using thumbnails next to ad units, their explanation about other images was anything but crystal clear.

Ads and navigation (5/3/07)

The latest (and grayer) change that has been made is placing ads near navigation. According to Google, placing an ad unit near navigation can cause accidental clicks by visitors. They then go onto to say that if they detect enough clicks that they deem unintended by users, they can ban a publisher's account. As you can imagine, this release really put publishers on edge. Many publishers have integrated ad units into their navigation in a way that they do not feel is misleading (such as a skyscraper in the navigation bar of a blog), but after reading this, are very concerned that they may be punished by Google.

So What's the Answer?
Although Google has made these changes, as an AdSense publisher you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with your ad units. While it is important to not do anything that they have specifically forbidden (such as lining up thumbnails), it is ok to try out new ideas that do not specifically go against their policies.
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