Thursday, 18 January 2007

New AdSense Program Policies

Google have just updated and amended the AdSense Program Policies page. After reading it through, the following caught my attention:

Copyrighted Material

The policies now state

Website publishers may not display Google ads on web pages with content protected by copyright law unless they have the necessary legal rights to display that content. Please see our DMCA policy for more information.
Previously the policy referred specifically to video and digital music (e.g. MP3) etc. This new policy wording appears broader in that it now specifically refers to any content that is protected by copyright. This is to ensure that Google is conforming with the requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

In practice this means that, if your web page contains any content at all that is not authored or created by yourself, it either must be:
  1. In the public domain
  2. Subject to one of the exceptions to copyright infringement, such as fair use, or
  3. Published with the permission of the author and used in accordance with any condition accompanying that permission
Ad Placement

The new policy wording states that a single web page may contain
Up to two referral units from each referral product or offering may be displayed on a page, in addition to the ad units, search boxes, and link units specified above.
If my memory serves me correctly, prior to the update, you were only allowed one referral unit per product.

In addition, the policy states
No Google ad may be placed on any non-content-based pages
No Google ad may be placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads, whether or not the page content is relevant.
This wording is not new but it is worth emphasizing that AdSense is not permitted on any pages without content or on pages that have been created purely for displaying AdSense. This means that those AdSense templates that you see for sale all over the place, including those by AdSense guru Joel Comm, violate AdSense's program policies!

Competitive Ads and Services

This section has undergone a quite significant change in wording and now states
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.
This is a very interesting change because it appears that Google has removed one of the previous requirements, that competitive ads must not be "contextual." Furthermore, the new wording clarifies what Google used to refer to as ads that "mimic" Google ads.

Thus, under the new wording, it appears that competitive ads are now permitted provided they do not look like the Google ads that appear on that particular site. This is also another subtle change because it implies that the competitive ads may look similar to Google ads provided they have a different color scheme to the Google ads that are appear on the same web site. This also implies that other contextual ad programs may be used, such as Kontera.

I have written to AdSense support to clarify these points and will post their response when it's received.

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