New Adsense rule: No ads below misleading post titles

James Ryan Jonas

Google Adsense announced an update today regarding new rules regarding the proper way of showing ads.

The first one referred to advertisements placed under a title that may mislead visitors, while the second reiterated Adsense’s rule on ads that look very similar to website links.

The new rules are as follows.

1. Ads should not be placed under a title or section heading in a way that implies the ads are not ads.

For example, ads should not be placed under titles such as “Dallas Business Opportunities” or “Today’s Hot Deals.” Placing ads directly below titles such as these implies to your users that the links in the ads are publisher-created content.

When I first read the update, I thought Google wants us not to place ads under any blog post title. That certainly is not good especially for this site where ads below post titles are the ones with the highest CTR.

After re-reading it, however, I figured that Google only disallows ads under titles or headings that “may imply that the ads are not ads,” meaning they are not allowed only under titles which can mislead visitors into believing that the ads are part of the blog content. For example, if you have titles or headings that say, “The Best Free Deals” or “Here are our best offers,” you cannot place Adsense ads below them.

The idea is that users can be led to believe that the “content” below a misleading title was created by the blog poster when, in fact, those are ads.

2. Ads should be easily distinguishable from surrounding content.

Similarly, you should not place an ad unit by a group of links that has identical colors and line spacing. Doing so may cause users to think the ad unit is content created by you. In this situation, we recommend using a different color for the ad titles or indenting the ad unit to help distinguish the ads from your own content.

This second rule is easy. Google does not want publishers to have links in the site with a similar formatting as the Adsense ads (and vice-versa). Obviously, such similar appearance can trick users into believing that the ads are not ads. What you can do, though, is to have a different format for the ad or move its position so it doesn’t look like it is part of the content.

Is this a good development for you, publishers?

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.