Google has made some recent changes to its AdSense policy that has web publishers concerned. While some changes are minor -  their referral program, using images next to ad units, AdSense for search, and copyright material - the item that has publishers concerned has to do with their Competitive Ads and Services Policy. Namely Google is trying to keep ads, whether competing contextual or not, from mimicking their own layout and style so as to not create confusion. This may have many web publishers making changes to their sites to keep from violating AdSense terms and conditions.

The new policy reads like this:

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.
How does this affect publishers? Essentially if you have any non-Google ads on your site that resemble AdSense - even if they are not contextually targeted ads - they will now put you in violation of the AdSense policies. Even if you sell ads that are not contextual but the ad units look like AdSense, you could be in violation.

It was believed that the new policy restricted publishers from running any competing contextual ad programs along with Google but that is not so. Brian Axe, senior product manager on the Google AdSense Team says, "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."

Jennifer Slegg of JenSense provides an thorough analysis of the change and the impact it may have on publishers at JenSense.

January 19, 2007

David Wallace is CEO and founder of SearchRank, an original search engine optimization and marketing firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is experienced in search engine optimization and marketing, pay per click and pay for inclusion management, directory submissions and web site design usability. David is a frequent contributor to various search engine related forums, an active editor of popular directories such as, Joe Ant and Zeal and has had several articles published on industry related sites. Since 1997, David along with his company have helped hundreds of businesses both large and small increase their search engine visibility and customer acquisitions.

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