Some publishers put images close to their Adsense units, in such a way that the image and the ad seem to be connected. Unsuspecting users try to click the image in vain, then try the link next to it, without noticing the link is part of an ad block. This trick to improve CTR (“up to 4 times“) was allowed by Adsense policies. As long as there was “a visible border between the ads and the images, to make it clear that the images are not being served by Google on behalf of the advertisers” (as quoted by Jensense). Was allowed, that is, until yesterday!
We ask that publishers not line up images and ads in a way that suggests a relationship between the images and the ads.
Here are some creative examples I collected over the past few months:
Geeky icons next to geeky ads:
Slightly contrasting pic juxtaposed to single ad unit
Translation unnecessary, as seen on “appelogen.be” a Belgian collection of curiosities.
Horizontally aligned, with separator
Notice the placement nicely takes advantage of the amount of whitespace between the ads an the “Ads by Google” branding. As seen on Tijd.Blog. This implementation was perfectly OK with the old guidelines, but is explicitly ruled out now:
If the ads and the images appear to be associated, inserting a small space or a line between the images and ads will not make the implementation compliant.
Will this kind of creativity actively be sought after and banned? I doubt it. The Adsense team themselves constantly walk the very thin line between maximizing profits and pleasing advertisers …