Adsense - do what you want (if you have enough volume)


I ran across this adsense feed:
Presto page manager - notice a few differences in the ad format that us grunts don't get? Differences, might I suggest, that tread on the edge of techniques explicitly disallowed to the common publisher?

- 'ads by google' is in a color designed to blend and not underlined as a link.
- 'ads by google' off to the right of the links. This raises two very important issues. The first is, the ad links look like a navigational structure (I almost clicked on one myself until I realized it wasn't Google). And secondly, clearly putting the 'ads by Google' way off off from the ads like that means the links don't look like ads - the eye is drawn away from that.

These changes are clearly designed for no other reason than to increase the CTR of the ads by cloaking the fact that they're ads.

No bones with the publisher (used here only for examples of the ads). I suspect they must do some heavy volume and get some concessions. And they're probably not alone.

But this begs the question - Why does Google allow these techniques if you're a large publisher, but expressely prohibit them if you're a smaller publisher? Is this a case of bending company ethics for cash (answer: yes it is). Or can I have an ad format like that - please?

(let's not discuss the specific publisher, they're irrelevant to the fact that there seems to be two sets of rules).


I don't know if its a an

I don't know if its a an issue of volume. I don't think they can detect stuff like that very well.

That being said I don't really see whats remarkable about taking the blending euphenism to its obvious conclusion. If the use see's a link for "Presto Parts and Cooker" and clicks it and lands on a page for "presto parts and cookers" that serves their need who loses ?


I think its pretty lame of you to link to the publisher. If you really didn't have an issue with that publsher then why didn't you just post a screen shot with the stuff intact ?

That's fairly tame to some

That's fairly tame to some of the stuff I've seen lately (although it did take me a minute to see where the ads were). The other day I ran across a site that allowed you to click big images that would lead you to the ad. I also saw one that had an arrow pointing to the ad that you could actually click as well to take you to the ad.

webprofessor - I don't think it's really a complaint about relevancy or fraud, it's double standards for Adwords publishers. Certain ones don't have rules and certain ones do.


I didn't cut a graphic because I'm too lazy to do all that work. Have a look at the link and don't get all bent and start making stupid rules about linking to a site, like it's a secret or something. I was researching OCR software and ran across this site - and almost clicked on the links because I thought they were navigational. I have no problem with the publisher, no idea who they are - the point behind the thread was the ads, not the site.

I'm no adsense expert so I stand to be corrected about the entire original post - but it sure seems like there are two sets of standards being applied to publishers.

to the lame issue.. bleh..

to the lame issue.. bleh.. it seems like a sneaky way to out someone IMO. I'll leave it at that.

I don't think theres a double standard. I am pretty small time and I aggressivally blend. I have crossed the line several times and been told so. Its just a matter of writing them email to clarify whats allowed or not with examples from your sites.

there's no conspiracy

You can quit with the innuendo's. I'm not sneaky enough to 'out' people. It's a freakin' publicly available link. Grow up and deal with it.

blah blah blah.. There is no

blah blah blah.. There is no innuendo, I am being straight forward.

At anyrate I addressed your question as well. The only thing thats interesting about that page is the "Ads by Google" being on the right. You can take it the blending pretty far you just have to write them.

And Here Are The Differences

Here's what the big boy code looks like. Makes it very easy to target ads:

google_ad_client = "pub-XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX";
google_kw_type = "broad";
google_kw = "Presto PageManager 6.";
google_ad_channel = "XXXXXXXXX";
omniture_gkw = google_kw;
omniture_gac = google_ad_channel;

wheel, it's simply a

wheel, it's simply a question about business and making money... The more volume a publisher can push the more revenue for Google and the publisher (which is then more likely to keep on using Adsense) - but Google still needs to take care of their advertisers and make sure they get somewhat decent traffic - otherwise they'd stop using Adwords.

If you consider how much random regular publishers are pushing it and crossing the lines then imagine how it would be if they were free to do whatever they want.

Google's Adsense team usually must approve each layout before it can be taken into use. Also, they can trust big publishers much more because the publishers don't want to loose the revenue from Adsense.

There's so many big publishers who has these options and it's quite well known so I really don't understand why you're bringing this up - especially not with a link to a specific site.

They at least made the link

They at least made the link color different from the rest of the site. But I agree, this doesn't seem that bad especially compared to some other implementations I've seen.

who cares

outing shouldn't be an issue. the site is available for everyone to see. sure, if this site is breaking the rules a topic like this might make it more likely that they get slapped on the wrist, but that risk was already present sans link. being afraid of outing public website urls is stupid.

ever heard of the phrase

ever heard of the phrase "don't ruin a good thing" ?

that certainly applies in cases like this

Good Thing?

Good thing for who? The publisher sure, but the advertiser is probably hurt by it. It wouldn't be a bad thing if they did look after the advertiser once in awhile.


This probably isn't a premium publisher at all, generally premium publishers have words as their publisher ID (ie. pub-jensense ), and not the all numbers publisher ID that regulars have (ala pub-123456789012).

This is part of a custom javascript beta that some regular publishers qualify for, which allows publishers to customize the ad appearances. However, it is still only available through AdSense account managers to higher volume regular publishers (think in the neighborhood of 1 million plus of page views a month) and only for special circumstances. So very few regular publishers qualify for it.

That said, there has been some publishers who receive this special code who definitely abuse it. You are supposed to get your account manager to approve these special ad units first before pushing it live, but not all do. So while it is possible that Google has given the A-OK to these ads, it is also possible that they did not.

How would an advertisor be

How would an advertisor be hurt by someone landing on their page that clicked a link about something they wanted or were interested in ? Obviously there is some sort of interest on the users part for the product.

The first rule of Adsense is to only answer the users problem or interest with an Adsense ad. Your job with adsense is to drive qualified traffic to the merchant. I don't see how this would not be doing that.

The problem here is the ad

The problem here is the ad is not about something they are interested in. The page is about Newsoft's Presto PageManager software, and they get sent to a page about Presto kitchen products. The "ad" is designed in such a way that takes advantage of the normal web users tendency to scan and not read fully (bright link, light gray text, positioned directly after page title without any borders, Ads by google to far right away from text that would be 'scanned'), therefore, the advertiser will get charged an ad click that will basically just be a bounce visit. It serves the publisher and google, but not the advertiser. (though in the end, my opinion of such a publisher declines by such actions)

As an advertiser, this situation just clearly shows why so many people recommend turning off your ads for the content network due to such poor performance.

Thanks for Adding in Jen

I was thinking that maybe they are simply beta testers of a new program. But it would be helpful to publishers (I'm assuming) if there was some way for them to know that somethings are being beta tested on some sites... so that no one would start whining... but then again I guess people would then whine to be part of the beta test, no?

outing? come on.

hardly outing. nothing is cloaked or hidden. public to all.

"How would an advertisor be

"How would an advertisor be hurt by someone landing on their page that clicked a link about something they wanted or were interested in ?"

if the user didn't want to leave the site they were looking at, but was fooled into clicking a link that looked like navigation/content. the result is a) bounce visit, the user immediately goes back or b) the user hits the advertiser's landing page with a sour taste in their mouth because of the means by which they arrived... or both.

Because it's not really an

How would an advertisor be hurt by someone landing on their page that clicked a link about something they wanted or were interested in ? Obviously there is some sort of interest on the users part for the product.

The first rule of Adsense is to only answer the users problem or interest with an Adsense ad. Your job with adsense is to drive qualified traffic to the merchant. I don't see how this would not be doing that.

Because it's not really an ad. It's hardly marked as an ad and looks like the regular site navigation. People are going to be clicking on it because it looks like navigation.

Just look at the ads that are displaying. They are all for parts to cooking supplies. Are you telling me that there are people looking for this specific market report that just so happen to have the urge to buy a pressure cooker? Any click on those ads is most likely irrelevant and a waste of money to the advertiser.

The placement and blending of the ads does nothing more than produce unqualified clicks in this example.

It doesn't look relevant to me

I see a software website with ads for salad shooter replacement parts.

BTW - I love the blending. I have a lot to learn.
If anyone wants to email me a few other examples, I would be grateful and keep the links confidential.

"How would an advertisor be

"How would an advertisor be hurt by someone landing on their page that clicked a link about something they wanted or were interested in ?"

if the user did not want to leave the site they were currently browsing, and clicked the link because advertisements were mistaken for navigational links or content. two things can happen here, and i think both contribute to a poor user experience..

  1. bounce visit, user hits back button and leaves immediately
  2. the first impression of the advertiser's landing page is negative


Poor user experience ? Didnt want to leave the site ? Do you know a regular user ?

Most users don't even understand the concept of a site let alone know which one they are on. Users are like little rats looking for cheese. They don't care where they get the cheese, as long as they get it.

yanno, i probably am getting

yanno, i probably am getting too specific. let's step back, start all our responses with questions, and continue painting with broad strokes on this one.

always wondered if these were legt

I've seen these from time to time and I have wondered if they were legitimate publishers with permission from Google for a variant implementation, or folks who have not only crossed the line and headed on down the road with what a publisher is allowed to do :)

On the subject of on-topicness, the ads I am seeing are:

Driver Updates Detailed Driver & Hardware Report Free CheckIt 7.0 Diagnostics
Driver Get The Right Updates For Your PC Instantly. Download Free Scan!
SearchAlert Luggage Lock Accepted By Airport Security Price Guarantee and Free Shipping

Not terribly on topic, eh?
You'd think if they were a publisher with privilege to do some funky stuff that they would be a site that was extremely well targeted :(


We're slamming the publisher here, and the fact is, I'd likely run ads like that if I could. The publisher is doing nothing other than running the ads being served to them. The publisher themselves isn't even doing anything in the way of blending. The publisher is irrelevant.

The blending is being done by Google, not the publisher. And using techniques frowned upon for the rest of us. If, as I suspect, this is a volume deal, why does volume mean you get to break the rules? Volume means price breaks and extra service, not a different set of rules. Or it should, shouldn't it? that's my point.

When the rules are in place purportedly to protect advertisers and consumers, why do some people not have to run ads that protect the advertisers?

Again, I stand to be completely corrected on my suspicions here, but it's like Google has two sets of rules.

>> And using techniques

>> And using techniques frowned upon for the rest of us

Thats what is confusing me wheel, I do stuff like that and I am a regular publisher. You can do it just write them if you are unsure.

as an advertiser

All I can say I am glad they are not my ads there. I am not interested in "branding" that much, and I doubt very much any clicks lead to sales.

As a publisher.

Great work.

I have to admit

I have to admit I was sitting on that page a full minute before I even figured out where the ads are.

In fact... looking around I accidently clicked on one of those ads.

In essance I just screwed over an advistier without even knowing it... well .. I didn't... they designed that site so it does that...

The publisher designs those ads

>> The blending is being done by Google, not the publisher.

No, it is the publisher, not Google, that choses the variables such as styling, size and font color in those types of custom javascript ads. Same kind of thing as done by Digg and Robin Good's blog (

waste of conversion space

The page is all wrong. This is a landing page with a $900 item for sale, the kind of page you'd pay money to bring people TO. And instead of placing their conversion arguments above the fold they've used the space to run very clickable ads placed higher than their own Add to Cart items.

Great publisher maybe, dead loss as a marketer.

(sorry off-topic wheel)

I was under the impression

I was under the impression that modifying the adsense code was against the adsense TOU?

To summarise the discussion - is it acceptable for publishers to modify their ads in a similar manner, and Adsense be fine with it?


Brian, no, its not ok - it is against TOS.
But at the same time, anyone can make a mockup and shoot an email to the Adsense team and say 'can I do this?'.
If you're making enough money they might say yes - who knows :)

To clear it up...

This custom javascript is a special beta only available to chosen publishers. It uses a completely different javascript (given only to the publishers in this beta) than the one regular publishers use. So yes, it is still against the terms for a publisher to modify their regular Google javascript, and no, Google will not give you permission to change the appearance of the ads, unless you happen to be in this special beta that allows it.

perhaps they aren't a really

perhaps they aren't a really selling anything ;)

weird.. bluecorns post is

weird.. bluecorns post is post dated so its staying new..

ok a) does that really look


a) does that really look like navigation to you? There's nav at the top and nav at the left and then three links in the middle which look like three links in the middle. Not looking like ads by google does not equal looking like normal navigation. The Ads by Google is *nicely* positioned, yes, but its hardly excessive blending.

b) whatever it looks like its not the publishers fault if the contextual ads are being mis-served. Their page is about something and provided there's no cloaking (and I don't even suspect it here) then its not their fault if Google serves ads for kids magicians in NY, Delia Smith videos or brand name kitchen appliances against the word "presto".

c) c'mon guys, I know at least one of you who has commented negatively in this thread has a site which is WAY worse than that in terms of blending :)

Ok, I won't try to reuse the

Ok, I won't try to reuse the code, then. :)

Sounds like an interesting beta, though - very nice blending.

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