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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Google Not Always Disclosing Ads

Google has stopped to always disclose their ads served to websites via the AdSense program. Previously, all ads would carry a disclaimer reading something along the lines of “ads by Google”. These days however, more and more image ads are missing this disclaimer (see above Google ads on the Google Operating System blog and this blog).

Since webmasters are used to Google delivering the disclosure, they may omit a disclosure of their own (two disclosures readings “ads” can look silly), which then suddenly means their website carries undisclosed advertisements. If the advertisement is included in the content area, it becomes even harder to tell apart from actual content, and Google in the past often urged webmaster to increase click-thru rates by making ads look more like normal content (by default, Google also removes borders around ads these days).

5 days ago, I wrote to the Google AdSense report in regards to this, but no human got back to me. Webmasters who always want to disclose their ads are left with three choices: 1) Remove AdSense or switch to competing ad platforms, 2) Add a disclosure, which will then always show (and mostly be redundant), or 3) restrict their AdSense ads to text-only (so far, it seems to be image ads which omit the disclosure). Google in the meantime should make up their mind and either always add their AdSense disclaimer, or never; either way would enable webmasters to adjust their templates.

[Hat tip to Ionut!]


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