Major Change in AdSense Policies: Other Ads Must Look Different

Google has updated their AdSense program policies. There are many small changes, but there is also one major change: If publishers use ad networks other than AdSense anywhere on their sites, they must now make sure the ads look different. JenSense has the details of all the changes and a special post on the competitive ad policy.

This is going to effect many publishers, myself included. It is currently standard practice to run A/B tests with Google and other ad networks. You randomly rotate Google ads with ads from another network using the same formats and color schemes, and see which one performs the best. This will no longer be possible. It is also common to display ads from other non-contextual ad networks in formats that are very similar to AdSense. Again this will no longer be possible.

This is going to cause a lot of confusion and questions for publishers. There has been a lot of debate on the forums about how acceptable it is to display an image close to an ad. I think trying to figure out what is acceptable for competitive ads is going to be even more difficult. The new policy states:

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.

But what is considered the same color, if you have AdSense in dark green and Chitika ads in light green, is that different enough? If you always use leaderboards for AdSense and skyscrapers for Yahoo, is that different enough? Is adding a border enough?

There is going to be a lot of talk about this on the forums and in blogs. People are not going to like this.

Well, I’m going to be busy the next few days trying to figure this out and implement the changes on my website. AdSense has never performed very well for me on AdMoolah, so I think I’m going to switch to Miva MC to give it a try.

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