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11/4/2008
02:32 PM
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Google Instructs AdSense Publishers How To Block Its Ads

The spike in AdSense publishers asking about ad blocking is the result of the expensive, divisive battle over California's Proposition 8.

Google's AdSense discussion forum contains several threads in which Web site publisher complain about "Yes on 8" ads appearing on their sites and alienating visitors.

"I've pulled all AdSense ads from my sites until they start following their own terms of service," said someone posting under the name James Newton. "In their place I've put up a link to this post and a message that reads: "Until Google stops violating their own terms of service by running 'Yes on 8' ads there will be no AdSense on this site."

The issue for Newton and others isn't just the belief that Google's AdSense terms of service should prohibit such ads. It's also that political ads don't generate revenue for the sites that run them because they're poorly targeted and don't related to the content of the sites on which they appear. "I wasn't making money the last couple days anyway," Newton's post continues. "The public in general is sick of this issue, and my eCPM and click rate have dropped like a rock the last two days. No one is going to click on those ads while reading my sites which are about technical and engineering subjects. It's NOT related content."

But not every AdSense advertiser is fuming. Some argue that such issues are inevitable when using an automated ad serving system. Others point out that technical solutions are available, if only publishers bother to learn about them.

"I really think this is a case of misdirected anger being pointed at the closest convenient target," said someone posting under the name John Henry. "Knowing Google's public stance on civil rights issues, I'm pretty sure that if they could have found a legally viable reason to reject the ads outright, they would have. And let's not forget that if they did, you'd have the other half of the world crying 'censorship' and raising exactly the same hue and cry. They're damned if they do and damned if they don't."

ProtectMarriage.com, a Web site that has been running ads on Google in support of Proposition 8, did not respond to a request for comment about the effectiveness of its ads.

A Google spokesperson said the company does discuss revenue it has earned from specific ad campaigns and stressed that publishers do have options to control the kinds of ads that appear on their sites. She also said that Google has a separate policy for political ads that allows ads for or against particular ballot measures.

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