Tag Archives: Program Policies

Content is king

Publishers are constantly faced with the question of how to balance content and ads to provide the best possible experience for your users. And as you might have found, there’s no easy one-size-fits-all approach. Every site and app is different, with different types of content, objectives, and users, which means that balancing content and ads will look different from publisher to publisher. When faced with this challenge, it’s important to ensure that you give your users what they're looking for in a format that’s easy to find and navigate, and this includes the ads on your page or app.

Here are a few tips to help you balance ads and content.

1. Content is king.
Your content is the reason users are visiting your site or app. If you think about it, your users are visiting your site for a reason, whether they are looking for a recipe, how to build a birdhouse, or trying to find out what’s happening in their town. By providing them with the information they're looking for, you satisfy their need in the moment that they need it the most. Check out this blog post to learn more about winning these micro-moments.

2. Design your site or app around the user journey.

By making your content the focal point on the page, and following standard web best practices, you can create a site that's visually appealing and easy for your users to use and navigate. Check out the AdSense Guide to Audience Engagement for best practices on designing user journeys, not just web pages.

3. Use ads to complement your site or app.
Ads should always supplement the content on your site, not the other way around. So when you’re placing ad units on your site, consider the user journey and how the ad format will complement your site and provide value for your users. If you want ads to look more natural, and match the feel of your content, consider using native ad units. For example, news and article publishers could consider using the native-style format called Matched content at the bottom of each article to direct readers to other relevant content on the same site. This strategy can help grow readership and your ad business. 

4. Test, test, test and test again.

At the end of the day, data will be your source of truth. If you’re considering implementing new ad units, run an AdSense experiment to see how they perform. Also, test the different formats to see what works best for your users and your page.

Remember, content is king and it’s the most important thing to users on your site. So you should always have more content than ads on each page. For more information and best practices, head over to the AdSense Help Center or join our next #AskAdSense office hours on Twitter and Google+.

Posted by: John Brown, Publisher Policy Communications Lead

Source: Inside AdSense

Join #AskAdSense on Google+ and Twitter

We’ve expanded AdSense support to our English AdSense Twitter and Google+ pages. Join our weekly #AskAdSense office hours and speak directly with our support specialists on topics like: ad placements, mobile implementation, account activation, account suspension, ad formats, and much more.

#AskAdSense office hours will be held every Thursday morning 9:30am Pacific Daylight Time beginning September 29th, 2016. Participating is easy:
  1. Follow AdSense on Twitter and Google+ 
  2. Tweet, post, comment, or reply to AdSense on Twitter or Google+ asking your question during the office hours. 
  3. Please do not provide personally identifiable information in your tweets or comments.
  4. If you can’t attend during our office hour times, be sure to use #AskAdSense in your tweet, post, comment or reply to AdSense and we’ll do our best to respond during our weekly office hours.

On October 13th, John Brown, Head of Publisher Policy Communications for Google, will be joining our office hours to provide transparency into our program policies. John is actively involved with the AdSense community helping to ensure that we continue to make a great web and advertising experience. You can also follow John on the SearchEngineJournal.com column "Ask the AdSense Guy" to learn more about Google ad network policies, processes, and best practices.

AdSense strives to provide many ways to help you when you need it, we’re happy to extend this to our Twitter and Google+ profiles. Be sure to follow us and we’re looking forward to speaking to you there. 

Posted by: Jay Castro from the AdSense Team

Source: Inside AdSense

Preventing accidental clicks for a better mobile ads experience

We’ve all been there. You’re trying to send an article from your phone to a friend, or you’re playing a mobile game while waiting in line for a movie, when you accidentally touch an ad on your screen. You weren’t interested in the ad -- heck, you didn’t even have time to see what it was for -- but now you’re hitting the back button to get back to what you were doing. Not only do accidental clicks like these annoy users, but left unaddressed, they can drive down the value of ads.

Over the last four years, we’ve introduced a series of protections across mobile web and mobile apps to prevent accidental clicks like these on ads. Today we are continuing this commitment to protecting users and advertisers by extending accidental click protections to native ad formats. Native ads were developed to help publishers and developers implement ads that complement the look and feel of their content.

Since our teams started instituting various click protections, we’ve learned quite a bit along the way. Here are two insights among many that guide our ongoing work.

Fast clicks are not real clicks
A professional baseball player has about 680ms1 to react and swing at a baseball thrown at 90mph. That’s fast, even for a professional who’s paying close attention to hitting the ball. We think it’s virtually impossible for someone to read, understand, and take action on an ad in that amount of time.

Figure 1: A click is ignored when a user accidentally fast clicks on an interstitial ad

Not surprisingly, we found super-fast clicks on ads to provide little to no value to advertisers. That’s why we ignore fast clicks that we detect to be accidental immediately upon ad load. Rather than our ads causing surprise low quality clicks, users can continue on uninterrupted.

Edge clicks lack value 
If you’ve used a mobile device, you know fat-fingers are a reality of touchscreens: the average fingerpad is roughly 50px large when pressing down.2 When we’re swiping, pinching, and poking our screens, it’s easy to accidentally touch the edge of an ad that appears unexpectedly or is placed too close to tappable controls on your screen. 

Figure 2: A click is ignored when a user misses adjacent content and accidentally hits the ad

When we compared the performance of clicks from the edge of ads to those coming from the interior region, we found dramatically higher conversion rates and user intentionality on clicks toward the middle of ad units. A few years ago, we started to expand these protections across mobile placements resulting in ad clicks that are more intentional.

The overall benefits of click protections
Fast clicks and edge clicks are just two of the user interaction issues we prevent in order to deliver value to advertisers. By expanding protections like these to native ad formats on mobile, we observe conversion rates increase over 10% on average with minimal impact to long term publisher revenue. This combined with our previous efforts has greatly improved the experience with mobile ads for users and advertisers.

The protections we’ve put in place across mobile web and mobile apps prevent tens of millions of accidental clicks per day, saving users tens of thousands of hours. When we look at the effect for advertisers in mobile apps, we observe double the value per click. We work hard to ensure that the clicks advertisers are charged for are more meaningful, and we hope sharing insight on these protections helps raise awareness and guide the wider advertising ecosystem. Plus, we really love playing games on our phones too, and want to make sure that we’re only taken to an advertiser’s page when we mean to go there. 

Posted by Alex Jacobson, Product Manager, Ad Traffic Quality 


1) 90ft/132 ft per second = 681ms, 132 ft per second = 90mph
2) http://touchlab.mit.edu/publications/2003_009.pdf

Source: Inside AdSense

Tips for writing a successful invalid traffic appeal

In a previous publisher blog post, we discussed tips for writing a successful policy appeal. In today's topic, we’re exploring what happens when publisher accounts are disabled due to invalid traffic, when to submit an appeal, and tips for making those appeals successful.

Invalid traffic includes any clicks or impressions that may artificially inflate an advertiser's costs or a publisher's earnings. Invalid traffic covers intentionally fraudulent traffic as well as accidental clicks.

In the ads ecosystem, advertisers rely on the relevance of our ad placement and the quality of the interaction their ads receive. Publishers in turn count on advertiser participation that contributes to the success of their apps and business. Without this trust, the Google advertising network could not exist. Google treats invalid traffic very seriously, analyzing all clicks and impressions to determine whether they fit a pattern of use that might artificially drive up an advertiser's costs or a publisher's earnings. If we determine that an account might pose a risk to our advertisers, we may take actions against the account, such as suspending or disabling it, in order to protect our advertisers' interests.

Before we continue, let's clarify the difference between an account suspension and an account disablement.

If your account was suspended due to invalid traffic, ad-serving has been turned off for a fixed period (typically 30 days). While suspensions are not currently appealable, if you would like to provide additional feedback to help us improve our processes and communications, you may do so using our suspended publisher feedback form. If there are no further compliance issues with your account, it will be automatically unsuspended after the fixed period. For more information about account suspensions, please visit our AdSense Help Center (or AdMob Help Center).

If your account was disabled due to invalid traffic, your account is no longer serving ads, and you will be unable to monetize with any Google ad solutions. You're eligible to file an invalid activity appeal, but please be aware that that filing an appeal does not guarantee reinstatement. For more information about account disablements, please visit our Help Center.

If you would like to file an invalid traffic appeal for account reinstatement, please first review the AdSense program policies and top reasons for account closure. These policies and reasons apply to all Google ad solution products, including but not limited to AdMob and YouTube.

Here are some tips that you may find useful in writing your appeal:

  1. Review the top reasons for account closure. Think about if any of these reasons applied to you and your content. Did your friends click on your ads too many times? Did you purchase traffic that led to a surge of invalid activity? Can you make content and/or behavioral changes to prevent the activity from happening again?
  2. Review ad implementations on your desktop site, mobile site, and/or mobile app. Think about what your typical user journey would be, and see if the ad implementations may cause users to accidentally click on your ads.
  3. In the appeal form, provide the e-mail address that is associated with your disabled AdSense account. This will help locate your account and reduce delays in appeal processing time.
  4. Tell us what changes you’ll make for the future. Once again, carefully consider the top reasons for account closure. What systems or behaviors have you put in place to ensure this won't happen again? For example, tell us how you've adjusted your ad implementations, evaluated your traffic sources, hired testers to properly test your content, etc. We will appreciate your honesty in the appeal.

Publishers are a vital part of the online ads ecosystem, and we want to see you succeed while keeping your users happy and engaged. Everyone in the digital ecosystem benefits when publishers provide engaging content and useful resources, which in turn incentivizes advertisers to bid for space on your content. We hope that these resources can provide some guidance.

Posted by Danielle Chang of the AdSense Ad Traffic Quality Team

Source: Inside AdSense

More defenses roll out to thwart Clickjacking

At Google we defend our ad systems from fraud using technology in a variety of ways. Often our investment in these defenses goes beyond protecting against only known threats. Our engineering and operations teams are continually working to identify new and emerging threats.  Once a new ad fraud threat is found, we move quickly to defend our systems against it using a combination of technology, operations, and policy.

Recently we identified “Clickjacking” (aka UI Redress) as an emerging threat to cost-per-click display ads, and we’ve rolled out new defenses to protect advertisers against this threat. Clickjacking is a type of web attack where the appearance of a website is changed so that a victim does not realize they are taking an important action, in this case clicking on one or more ads. For example, a user may intend to click on a video play button or menu item, but instead clicks an invisible ad unit.

Figure 1: An example of a clickable ad hidden behind a video playback button.

Moving quickly to thwart Clickjacking attempts
Earlier this year when our operations team identified Clickjacking activity on our display network, they moved swiftly to terminate accounts, removing entities involved in or attempting to use this technique to trick users. Our engineering team worked in parallel to quickly release a filter to automatically exclude this type of invalid traffic across display ads.

This approach delivered a one-two punch to publishers who violated our policies: our operations team, which forms an early line of defense against invalid traffic, cleaned out publishers from our ad systems, while engineers built a new filter as a durable defense to protect against Clickjacking traffic.

Figure 2: An example of mouse-tracking, which leads to a page with lots of ads being opened regardless of where a user clicks.

Even as there are ongoing attempts to perpetrate this type of attack, our ongoing and proactive hunt for emerging types of invalid traffic has enabled us to move early and quickly to address Clickjacking threats on several occasions.

A combination of defenses
Our Clickjacking defenses operate at considerable scale, analyzing display ad placements across mobile and desktop platforms, evaluating a variety of characteristics. When our system detects a Clickjacking attempt, we zero-in on the traffic attributed to that placement, and remove it from upcoming payment reports to ensure that advertisers are not charged for those clicks.

This latest effort also is a great example of how our work against invalid traffic is at the intersection of technology, operations, and policy.  Each piece plays a key role in keeping our ad systems clean and defended against ad fraud.

Equally important, our efforts also promote a level playing field for good publishers on our ad systems.  And while our Ad Traffic Quality team works hard to keep our ad systems clean, we also rely on publishers to do their part in contributing to a healthy ads ecosystem.

Best practices for publishers
Publishers play a crucial role in delivering a good ads experience.  We’ve included some relevant best practices below to remind publishers of ways that they can improve the ads experience on their web properties.

  • Double and triple-check implementations to verify that your sites contain no programming errors, conform to AdSense policies, and display correctly across different browsers and platforms.
  • For mobile devices, plan your layout carefully to accommodate limited screen real estate.
  • Avoid placing ads close to other clickable content to prevent accidental clicks. For more guidance on how to implement banner ads see our best practices video.
  • Monitor analytics often to spot traffic anomalies. For example, setting up Analytics alerts can show if an unusual amount of traffic comes from a particular ad placement or site.
  • Lastly, if you find suspicious activity, please report it via the Invalid Clicks Contact Form.

We’re proud of our work to protect our ad systems against emerging threats like Clickjacking, and we’ll continue to be vigilant as we fight the good fight against ad fraud. 

Posted by: Andres Ferrate, Chief Advocate, Ad Traffic Quality

Source: Inside AdSense

Got Policy Questions, “Ask the AdSense Guy”

As part of our continued effort to be as transparent and accessible to publishers as possible, we’ve launched a collaboration with Search Engine Journal with a column titled “Ask the AdSense Guy”.

In this monthly column, we’ll answer questions on topics of interest from the readership of the Search Engine Journal, as well as provide insight into best practices for publishers of all sizes. Our hope is that these external collaborations strengthen overall understanding of our policy positions and allow publishers to scale their long term growth in ways that provide value for their users, as well as advertisers who place ads on publisher sites.

A Search Engine Journal managing partner, Brent Csutoras, interviewed me at Pubcon 2015 to get a glimpse of what investments Google is making to help the entire ecosystem: users, advertisers, and publishers.  Follow our column and share your questions, or submit them as a comment below.  We will answer questions posted on Search Engine Journal, as well as those we collect from our comments section and will post them in the “Ask the AdSense Guy” column.

Ask your policy question now!

Posted by John Brown
Head of Publisher Policy Communications

Source: Inside AdSense

Demystifying AdSense policies with John Brown: Five tips for a successful policy appeal (Part 5)

I’ve been posting a series to this blog relating to demystifying AdSense policies. Today we’re exploring what happens when ads are disabled from publisher sites, when to submit an appeal, and tips for making those appeals successful.

Our policies are designed to foster a healthy ecosystem which protects users, advertisers, and publishers. In 2014, the vast majority of publishers ( >98 %) did not receive a policy violation notice from us.

In order to ensure a healthy ecosystem we continuously monitor our ad network and periodically review AdSense sites. We use a combination of sophisticated, automated systems and manual reviews to identify violations.

If you’ve received a policy violation or ad serving on your website has been disabled have a look at our Help Center and review our Program Policies. You will find information on how to fix the violation and apply for an appeal.

Here are some useful tips, should you need to submit an appeal:

1. Understand the violation. If you receive a policy violation notification it will include a snippet explaining the violation. If you’d like more information you can visit our Program Policies located in the Help Center. We also encourage you to seek advice from our Forum. Our Top Contributors have a lot of policy knowledge and are often helpful in providing good advice.

2. Check your entire site. Each notification you receive will contain a link with an example of the violation. Please note, that you may have the same violation on multiple pages, so be sure to check your entire site.

3. Tell us what changes you’ll make for the future. What systems have you put in place to ensure this won't happen again? For example, tell us how you've updated your filters, hired human reviewers, or how you're now familiar with this particular policy.

4. Send URL with ad code examples. If you had a content violation, send us links to pages where you have made changes. You can simply remove AdSense ad code from pages, or as a last resort remove pages that have been flagged with violations. If you had an ad implementation violation, be sure to send us a link to the fixed page.

5. Understand the big picture. Although you might not always agree with our policy actions, they are there to protect the entire ecosystem of users, advertisers, and publishers.

Your success is important to us, and we want to see you succeed while keeping your users happy and engaged. Everyone in the digital ecosystem benefits when publishers provide engaging content and useful resources, which in turn incentivizes advertisers to bid for space on your site. We hope that these resources can provide some guidance. 

Posted by John Brown
Head of Publisher Policy Communications

Source: Inside AdSense

Demystifying AdSense policies with John Brown: What to do if you receive a warning message (Part 4)

Editor’s note: John Brown, the Head of Publisher Policy Communications, is explaining what to do if you receive a policy warning message.

In this post, I’d like to talk about policy warning messages and what steps you should take if you receive one. I’ll also answer some of the most common questions around warning messages.

What is a warning message?
We send out warning messages to our publishers if their site, or a page of their site, violates our AdSense policies. For minor policy violations that can be fixed fairly easily, our first step is to issue a warning.

Where can I see my warning message?
Warning messages are sent to the email address associated with your AdSense account. You can manage your contact email address under Personal Settings in your account. You can also check out outstanding policy violations by visiting the Status page in your AdSense account.

What do I do if I get a warning?
If you receive a warning message, follow these steps to fix the violation as quickly as possible:
  1. Read the instructions in the warning message very carefully to understand how the flagged policy violation corresponds to the particular page of your site.

    • Optimally, we would recommend simply removing Google AdSense code from the violating pages. You do not need to remove Google AdSense code from your whole website, just the violating pages.

    • If you are unable to or unsure of how to remove the ads from these pages, or would like to continue monetizing the page with Google ads, please modify or remove the violating content to meet our AdSense policies.

  2. Multiple pages of your site might be violating the policies. Check all your pages of all of your sites to make sure they’re compliant. 
  3. When adding new content to your site on pages with Google ads, ensure that these pages comply with Google policies. Our warning emails include a URL from your website of a violating page, but it is possible that other pages on your site have violations as well. Review all your sites and pages to make sure they are policy compliant.
What is the timeline to fix the violation?
After receiving a warning, you should immediately take time to review your pages where Google AdSense code is implemented and ensure that it complies with our policies. If you fix the violation or remove the ad code from violating pages, you don’t need to contact us.

How do we determine how to send warning messages?
It is a common misconception that AdSense disables websites and sends warning messages randomly. We rely upon a detailed set of guidelines when looking at policy violations, which you can find in the AdSense Help Center.

Do we ever disable ad serving to a site without first sending a warning? 
There are some situations when we would need to disable ad serving to a site without first sending a warning. We usually take this action for extreme violations like adult content and copyright infringement, as well as cases of violent content. We may also disable ads to a site when we find a violation that we’ve already contacted a publisher about in the past.

How can I appeal a disabling and get ad serving reinstated?
If ad serving on your site is disabled due to a policy violation, there are steps you must take in order to have ads reinstated. First, the page(s) of your site that is in violation of Google policies must be reviewed. As mentioned in my previous blog post, our obligations to advertisers drive many of our policies and enforcement of our policies. Therefore, we simply ask that you remove our ad code from the violating page(s), ensuring our advertisements do not appear alongside content that violates Google policies. Once the ad code has been removed, you can then file an appeal after reviewing our policy appeals Help Center article. Sometimes users delete all their Google AdSense code; you don't need to remove the ad code from non-violating pages before sending the appeal.

To make sure that the appeal is a strong one, please tell us exactly what action you've taken on your site to resolve the violations and also tell us how you'll prevent similar occurrences in the future. I recommend that you include some other example URLs that you've taken action on proactively.  We want to work with our publishers to help them grow their businesses while remaining policy-compliant.

You can find more information about policy appeals here.

Is there a point at which an account can get shut down completely? 
The final and most severe action that our teams can take is to close down an account completely. This normally only happens when we find egregious policy violations, if a large portion of a publisher’s network consists of violating sites, or for repeat policy offenders.

I hope this helps you to deal with policy violations. For more information about policy warnings, check out this Help Center article. We’d love to hear your thoughts to improve our processes. Let us know what you think in the comment section below this post.

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Posted by John Brown
Head of Publisher Policy Communications

Source: Inside AdSense

Demystifying AdSense policies with John Brown: Understand your traffic (Part 3)

Editor’s note: John Brown, the Head of Publisher Policy Communications, is sharing insights about understanding your traffic and how you can prevent invalid activity.

Last week, I explained why we take invalid activity seriously and how AdSense policies protect users, advertisers and publishers. This week, I’d like to give you some tips to help you keep your account in good standing.

What can you do as a publisher?

Here are some best practices to prevent invalid activity on your site:

  • Monitor your analytics often to spot traffic anomalies. Setting up Analytics alerts can be very useful. For instance, you can set Analytics alerts to see if an unusual amount of traffic comes from a country you wouldn’t expect for your site.
  • Be very careful when purchasing any traffic, and review the traffic provider checklist to help guide your discussions with any traffic provider you’re considering.
  • Double and triple-check your implementation. Make sure your implementation has no programming errors, conforms to AdSense policies, and interacts properly across different browsers and platforms. Having a well-implemented page can protect against unintended consequences, like accidental clicks. 
  • Don’t click on your own ads. Even if you’re interested in an ad or looking for its destination URL, clicking on your own ads is prohibited. Instead, use the Google Publisher Toolbar.

You can find more information about ad traffic quality and best practices on our Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center. I hope these resources help clarify why we care about the quality of the ecosystem and what you can do to comply with our traffic policies. Please share your feedback and do let us know if you have additional questions in the comment section below this post.

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Posted by John Brown
Head of Publisher Policy Communications

Source: Inside AdSense

Demystifying AdSense policies with John Brown: Understand your traffic (Part 2)

Editor’s note: John Brown, the Head of Publisher Policy Communications, is sharing insights and answering most common questions about invalid activity.

In this post, I want to stress why we take invalid clicks so seriously and clarify a few questions related to traffic quality and invalid clicks.

Let’s take a step back and think about the digital ad ecosystem. The relationships between Google, advertisers, and publishers are built on trust. A strong and healthy digital ecosystem needs:
  • Users who trust the system and have a good experience,
  • Advertisers safely investing in digital ads,
  • Publishers who can sustain their business.
To protect those relationships, it’s very important to make sure that clicks and impressions are based on genuine user intent. That’s why at Google we have a global team that monitors the traffic across Google's ad network, and prevents advertisers from paying for invalid traffic.

Now, I'd like to address some of the most common questions and concerns from publishers related to ad traffic quality and invalid clicks.

  • What is Google's obligation to publishers?

Google manages advertiser relationships so that you don’t have to. Publishers benefit from our vast supply of ads. To provide ads to your sites for the months and years to come, advertisers must trust our network. Our policies are in place to protect these advertiser relationships, which ultimately protects publishers that work with us as well.

  • What happens to earnings held back from publishers due to invalid activity?

Any revenue found to be from invalid activity is refunded back to the active advertisers, not kept by Google. In 2014, we refunded more than $200,000,000 to advertisers from detected invalid activity. In 2014, we’ve disabled more than 160,000 sites to protect the ecosystem.

  • What can Google do to better communicate policies and enforcement?

We’ve adopted a policy of silence for the most part in order to protect our signals. We find it important to protect our signals so that bad actors cannot detect how we discover invalid activity. Additionally, we are always striving to increase transparency around our communications without compromising our techniques to protect advertisers and publishers. Stay tuned for new features which will help you have more control over your content and stay compliant with the policies.

  • Will Google modify interactions with the publisher community going forward?

We realize that we can improve our communications, especially around warnings, suspensions, and account disablement.  My charge is to do this. I have many people working with me on better education, along with improving the language and instructions around warnings or messages received from Google. I believe that publishers understand much better where they stand at all times when our policies are clear and when we communicate them effectively, and enforce consistently.

I hope you found these insights useful. Check back here next week where we’ll talk about what you can do as a publisher to help us protect the digital ecosystem. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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Posted by John Brown
Head of Publisher Policy Communications

Source: Inside AdSense