While I’m no expert on contextual advertising programs, I use them on my sites and often recommend them to clients. I really just browse what the experts have to offer on their sites, forums and blogs. On days like today when Google updates their AdSense policy — I tune into Jensense, the blog of DigitalPoint and SearchEngineWatch moderator Jennifer Slegg.
Jennifer feels that the most significant change made in the AdSense policy today involves Competitive Ads and Services. The specific changes Google has made are as follows:
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.
In short, the change creates a significant number of issues for webmasters, many of which would result in a violation of the TOS if gone uncompleted for any length of time. For example, the thousands of publishers who test their ad units on AdSense, YPN and other systems for the sake of comparing data — are no longer allowed to do so. Even though we as site owners are only concerned with finding the best way to monetize our traffic — it’s no longer allowed on the AdSense platform — and Google is absolutely wrong to enforce these changes.
I want to keep with the theme of leaving these matters to the experts on the subject. To understand these changes and how Google expects them to be received — please read the referenced post on Jen’s site. It simply offers too much insight on the matter to be ignored.
Rather, for that sake of this post, I’d like to comment on why these changes are just another reason for site owners and publishers to become irate with Google. Despite having far more publishers on AdSense than YPN, Google is becoming so greedy that they are now looking for complete monopolization of contextual ad units as well as control over how we design and present materials on our own sites.
Is my stance on this a bit over the top? Perhaps — but so too are the changes we’re now expected to make.
Google is making an absolute fortune on us as content providers. While they may claim these changes help to protect their products and services, they also alienate us as publishers and force us to change our entire sites, including pages that do not have any contextual advertising on them at all.
I’m sorry, the last time I checked — I own my web site, not Google.
The worst part about this is that too many publishers are willing to step aside and let Google demand these changes from them. I understand the importance of keeping that monthly check coming in, but also believe that accepting these changes allows Google to expect and plan similar changes in the future.
At the risk of sounding like a political activist in the sixties, I urge publishers who are in a demanding position with Google to step up and fight back on this matter. While changes may not be made to counter this immediately — this will clearly become a landmark issue that will shape the future of contextual advertising as the young industry matures.
Let’s not be so quick to assume that Google can provide the best ads for us. At the very least, lets not allow them to restrict our publishing abilities without a fight… Call your AdSense rep — and let your opinion on this be heard loud and clear.