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AdSenseAd Clarify Policy on Images Near Ads

The AdSense team have finally come out and publicly written about their policy on images near their ads. This is long overdue as it has been almost a year since I’ve had publishers asking me about the topic and have seen publisher experiment with the practice of putting ads above, below or beside ads.

In short – they are saying that their policy is that you cannot place images near ads in any way that suggests a relationship between the image or the ad – even if you put a line between the image and the ad (something that I’d previously been told was fine – so they’ve changed their tune on this).

Here’s what they wrote on their blog:

Can I place small images next to my Google ads?
We ask that publishers not line up images and ads in a way that suggests a relationship between the images and the ads. If your visitors believe that the images and the ads are directly associated, or that the advertiser is offering the exact item found in the neighboring image, they may click the ad expecting to find something that isn’t actually being offered. That’s not a good experience for users or advertisers.

Publishers should also be careful to avoid similar implementations that people could find misleading. For instance, if your site contains a directory of Flash games, you should not format the ads to mimic the game descriptions.

What if I place a space or a line between my images and my ads? Would that work?
No. If the ads and the images appear to be associated, inserting a small space or a line between the images and ads will not make the implementation compliant.

Does this mean I can’t place ads on pages with images?
You can definitely place Google ads on pages containing images — just make sure that the ads and images are not arranged in a way that could easily mislead or confuse your visitors. For example, if you run a stock photography site with a catalog of thumbnail images, don’t line the ads up with the thumbnails in a way that could be misleading. Consider using a full border around your ads or changing your ad colors, for example.

What do unacceptable implementations look like?
Here are some examples that wouldn’t comply with our policies.


Fruitimages

Gameimages

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Deborah says:

    So I guess there will be a lot of busy people reworking their adsense ads. I have seen a good amount of sites that do this very thing that Google is now saying you can’t do!
    Especially the stock image sites. I have noticed on a few of these sites that they cleverly grouped their stock images inline with the google adsense ads.
    Wonder how many will just ignore the policy?

  2. Andreas says:

    I’m changing my ads as I write this.

    Too bad that they changed their decision regarding separating the image and the ad with a line. If done properly I’d say that images are great for moving the readers focus to the ads and doesn’t necessarily give the impression that the image represents the same thing as the ad, but rules are rules.

  3. Miha says:

    Finaly there is a good explenation from Google about images beside ads. I did never use them… did plan to… but now I’m not going to.

  4. Alpesh says:

    That puts to rest some speculation :-)

    Thanks Darren, much appreciated.

    Alpesh

  5. Anthony says:

    Pff, it just had to happen today, i’ve been updating i big part of my website just today so there would be images next to them… waste of time

  6. Peter Cooper says:

    The most interesting bit, to me, is this:

    Publishers should also be careful to avoid similar implementations that people could find misleading. For instance, if your site contains a directory of Flash games, you should not format the ads to mimic the game descriptions.

    They seem to be saying that you should not format ads to look like other text / link blocks on the same page.

    I don’t do this myself, as I find Adsense fonts too small and like mine too big.. but I see the whole ‘use the same font size and color as Adsense and mix Adsense ads in with content’ technique *everywhere*

  7. Enrique says:

    If Google REALLY wanted to help us, they’d also show us an example of what IS an acceptable use of images near ads… I mean, what options are there left really?

  8. Darren Rowse says:

    I think that’s the point Enrique – they don’t really want you to use them.

  9. Keith says:

    Not surprized google clarifed their positon. Removed Adsense Beautifier today. Never did see a jump in CTR using images. However, google does have the right to protect the Adwords cusomters from false clicks.

  10. Body Rock says:

    So, on one hand, the Adsense guys encourage you to blend the ads with the content and on the other, they tell people not to blend them too much as it will confuse the readers. How nice! :)

  11. $1 Link says:

    I have never placed images next to the ads so I really have nothing to worry about I guess? However, I know many at DP Forums have been stabbing in the dark about this for sooooo loong.

    Good one GA team.

    Col :)

  12. cher says:

    The policy will differentiate the placement of ads with respect to images. The Adsense clarify policy will definitely will help us a lot so as to avoid any ban from the google. I think a policy has to be formulated regarding false clicks. Thanx a lot for the article.

  13. Peter says:

    The real question is will they will bann all users that have images. This is really importent but they should email all google adsense users to know about this. If they start to bann people it will really sux because not everybody (they should) read problogger.

  14. jhay says:

    I guess it’s time to replace those images that I customized for my Adsense beautifier plugin to match the topics I blog mostly about.

    Then again, it’s nice that the AdSense team has finally come out with a clear policy statement on this.

  15. I wonder if this also means those background-style advert enhancements are likely to be frowned upon???

  16. brandon says:

    does this mean that yahoo will likely follow suit? Have they ever made a statement about images near YPN ads?

  17. Evan says:

    I love google’s rules, I really just wish they would enforce them a little bit, rather then saying hey dont do this, but if you do and you make us a lot of money, its ok.

  18. YPN has NEVER allowed images near the ads.

    This is 1 time YPN was ahead of Google.

  19. Stephanie says:

    It’s about time!. Should be interesting to see what strategies people come up with now for increasing clicks.

  20. Simon says:

    At last,

    Those images next to the ads were only ever there to deceive users. Period.

    They were easily seen through and only ever cheapened the site to look desperate for you to click away as it knew there was no value in staying ;)

    Adsense only works best when it’s used as an opportunity to visitors, this way regular visitors still let you maintain a credible CTR.

  21. MM says:

    On Blogger Beta, they suggest blending your ads to exactly match your content, but pictures lined up with ads are not OK? My ads match my content and are within my blog posts. I find they look more a part of the site than when I lined up pictures over ads in the header, sidebar, and/or footer. Weird.

    I honestly don’t get how this really negatively affects anyone. Google is making more money when more ads are clicked on. The publisher is making more money when more ads are clicked on. And the advertiser is getting a targeted user to their site (if they write accurate ads). It is their own fault if their ads are deceiving. If I see a picture of an apple and the ad says “lose 10 pounds in a week with our diet pill”, I’m not going to expect to find a site about apples. If the pictures were linked with the ads, then I could see a problem.

    I personally think pictures lined up with ads on a lot of sites take away from the “I’m trying to make money” look because the ads don’t stand out like a sore thumb. The picture draws you in to read the ad (which might interest you) rather than you seeing a block of ads and completely ignoring them.

  22. BradFitz says:

    Darren, thanks for the heads-up on this. I am very curious though, I noticed on your other sites (laptops, pda’s, cel phones, etc) You have not yet removed the images that line up with your leader-board Adsense ads.

    I was always a bit surprised you used this tactic yourself, but even more so given the fact the there were no borders between your images and the ads, which the Adsense TOS required (suggested?) there to be before this new policy was released.

    So give us the skinny… are you boycotting this new rule? Waiting for them to give you a warning? Waiting for your graphic designer to get to it? Is the horizontal leader-board/image association a loophole to the rule and this only applies to vertical blocks? Or do you secretly own Google now? :)

    Cheers and thanks again for posting this.

  23. Dustin says:

    What are the consequences?

  24. Crazy says:

    What about this SITE?
    http://www.hv-designs.co.uk/tutorials.php
    Images beside the Ads…

    Is this OK?

  25. Justin says:

    It is really useful to know since I want to put adsense to my site and It got some photos.

Trackbacks

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