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Google Lays Down The Ad & Image Placement Law

written by John Chow on December 18, 2006

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The Google policy team has finally set the record straight on the use of image next to or near Google AdSense ads. Here’s an except of the ruling from the official Google 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.

In the past, Google had told publishers to put a line between the images and the Google ad. Now, it appears Google is going back on that policy.

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.

Google is no disallowing images next to AdSense ads. They just want to make sure that the ads and images are not arranged in a way that could easily mislead or confuse the visitors. Google posted the following two examples of implementation that will not comply with the new policy.



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Final Fantasy December 18, 2006 at 3:56 pm

Google sucks. I guess I have to drop my earnings even further now. Whats the next best thing to adsense. Are any of their competitors even close to the same level?

Stephen December 18, 2006 at 4:08 pm

Direct sales.

Kiltak December 18, 2006 at 4:09 pm

Darn! Just 1 day after I made the change..

Hmmm, I’ll try putting the 336×280 ad everywhere and see if the pictures beside the ads truly affected clickthrough rate.. I’ll report back tomorrow evening.


Michael Kwan December 18, 2006 at 4:14 pm

It’s funny, really, because Google wants you to make sure their ads stick out as much as possible, being super distinct from the rest of the content, whereas the best strategy for increasing CTR is to integrate the ads as much as possible, making them seamless with the content.

Steve December 18, 2006 at 4:36 pm

“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.”

-check out my site’s old design hehe..

and that was before i got it pixel perfect :P

Sweta December 18, 2006 at 4:58 pm

Good move. Cheating is not good for both Publisher and Advertiser. Build quality site and money will flow automatically.

hustlermoneyblog December 18, 2006 at 5:57 pm

thanks for the info. Google adsense is awesome.

Eli December 18, 2006 at 6:44 pm

Bah! The way I see it, you’re allowed to have images near the ads, just not related to the content of your webiste/ads.

I had better go fix mine shortly. :P

Derrich December 18, 2006 at 10:44 pm

Cheaters suck. You can integrate without misleading. Right?

StrangeProgress December 19, 2006 at 12:01 am

I wondered how long till we’d hear this from Goog – the technique had been gaining too much exposure, and was becoming very prevalent, and they had to take a stand sooner or later.

Sure it *does* increase CTR, but does it also increase sales/conversion? I doubt it. And there in lies the primary issue.


Jack December 19, 2006 at 2:58 am

i only have one website which i put the images next to adsense. i feel there is nothing change to my adsense earning after put the images. the more important is the content. Content is king. :D

ogene December 19, 2006 at 3:12 am

It think it’s fair enough both for publisher and advertiser.

HMTKSteve December 19, 2006 at 3:42 am

I have removed all AdSense from non-content areas of my blog and my revenue has increased!

I used to keep an ad block in my sidebar but now I have one block above the fold and one at the end of each article.

My CTR has gone way up as their are no “wasted” impressions on my main page (the sidebar).

The sidebar did get some clicks but I found it’s CTR was far lower than the blocks inside my articles.

Kiltak December 19, 2006 at 5:36 am

Hmmm does an increased CTR has any results on the value of ads served? From what I have seen up to now, it has none.

On another note: removing the image from the ads had *NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER* on CTR rate or earnings

HMTKSteve December 19, 2006 at 6:29 am

It helps if you are shopping for advertisers.

If I tell the advertiser I have a CTR of 25% as opposed to 5% it will make a difference.

Why let your CTR drop by displaying ads that no one clicks on? It’s different if you are being paid per impression or per action but in pap per click a high CTR is good.

Jane January 15, 2007 at 10:37 am

I’m curious John, how has google’s actions to make their ads stand out from the content affected your site…if any?