Thursday, 8 February 2007

Why You Can Explicitly Encourage Clicks on AdSense Referral Ads

Google has just published an interesting post on the Inside AdSense blog entitled, "Referral policies - clarified," which explains why publishers are allowed to explicitly endorse the referral products (i.e., encourage clicks on them!) when they're not allowed to do so for regular AdSense ads.

The post gives 2 main reasons.

The CPA Nature of Referral Ads

Because referrals require the user to actually do something (the action) before the publishers gets paid by the advertisers, the advertiser will always get what they're after even if the publisher encouraged the click. For example, you won't get paid for any clicks on a referral ad for Firefox unless the person who clicked on the ad actually installs Firefox on their computer. In this case, the advertiser is happy, they got what they wanted, so they're happy to pay up!

Endorsing a Specific Product

When you endorse a referral ad product, you know exactly what product you are encouraging your visitors to click on. This is not true of ads that appear in regular AdSense CPC ad units and, as such, if you encourage visitors to click on those ads, you cannot possibly be doing so with any real knowledge that the products or services being advertised are of value to the visitor.

My Thoughts

I think in many ways this is a very sensible policy, however, as the post also points out, it must be remembered that you still cannot encourage visitors to click on referral ads "for deceptive purposes." In fact, unless you have actually used the product yourself, you cannot possibly genuinely endorse the product with any real knowledge of it.

Thus, this policy is still open to blatant abuse and I personally think the CPA nature of referral ads provides only a limited level of protection to the advertiser because many of the products being referred cost the user nothing.

It will be interesting to see if Google eventually changes this policy for free referral products.

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