Google Adsense Policies: Now With More Hypocrisy!

by Ben Cook on April 29, 2009

Google just updated the policies that all AdSense publishers must abide by… but somebody had better tell the AdWords team.

Google actually made quite a few changes (and as usual JenSense has a great rundown of it all) but one section jumped out at me immediately.

The Content Guidelines section now reads:

“Sites with Google ads may not include or link to:

  • Pornography, adult or mature content
  • Violent content
  • Content related to racial intolerance or advocacy against any individual, group or organisation
  • Excessive profanity
  • Hacking/cracking content
  • Gambling or casino-related content
  • Illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia content
  • Sales of beer or hard alcohol
  • Sales of tobacco or tobacco-related products
  • Sales of prescription drugs
  • Sales of weapons or ammunition (e.g. firearms, firearm components, fighting knives, stun guns)
  • Sales of products that are replicas or imitations of designer goods
  • Sales or distribution of coursework or student essays
  • Content regarding programs which compensate users for clicking ads or offers, performing searches, surfing websites or reading emails
  • Any other content that is illegal, promotes illegal activity or infringes on the legal rights of others

It seems Google is no longer content to dictate what kind of content can appear on your site, they also now control who you can link to.

Now, Google is obviously well within their rights to set whatever kind of guidelines they want, it’d just be nice if they bothered to adhere to them as well.

While Google is more than happy to charge advertisers for AdWords placement they apparently don’t want their publishers to have anything to do with sites on topics such as the “sale of prescription drugs”:

AdWords doesn't have a problem with prescription drugs

AdWords doesn't have a problem with prescription drugs

orย  the “sale of tobacco or tobacco-related products”:

Google knows cigarettes are tobacco products right?

Google knows cigarettes are tobacco products right?

Now, unless I’m mistaken, those blue underlined things that you click on are links right?

To be fair, these changes to the AdSense policies are new. I suppose it’s possible the AdWords team didn’t get the memo or maybe they haven’t finished rounding up all the advertising sites to cut ties with.

But I’m sure they’re working feverishly to stop accepting all that money from sites that sell Viagra or any other prescription drugs. I mean, Google wouldn’t expect you to follow a set of rules that they have abandoned themselves, in favor padding their bottom line… would they?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Cook April 30, 2009 at 8:31 am

Yeah, that’s just ridiculous. Clearly one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. And each hand has got their own agenda.

Whats i am curious about is, how will this will effect advertisers of prescription drugs, tobacco products, etc. Will they be able to advertise on the content network? Will that even be an option?

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Nick Stamoulis April 30, 2009 at 11:36 am

Typical communication break downs when companies get too big. I guess they didn’t get the memo.

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Skitzzo April 30, 2009 at 11:59 am

Nick, I was being a bit sarcastic with my comment.

It’s not that they didn’t get the memo, it’s that Google makes WAY too much money from the AdWords ads on these topics for them to bother following the rules they set for the rest of us.

Bill, that’s a good question. If publishers can’t talk about or link to those topics, how can Google display those ads on their content network? Any site those ads would appear on should be banned from AdSense right?

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ms danielle April 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm

so then the key is to scratch adsense, link to all the aff programs in the prohibited verticals above since they’re obviously the money-makers, and display other forms of advertising. got it ๐Ÿ˜‰

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george April 30, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Probably just a legally motivated policy which allows them to claim no legal liability if one of the sites gets sued and someone tries to reach into Google’s huge pockets by claim Google “promoted” the illegality.

Now they can say “our policy doesn’t allow this therefore we didn’t promote it and we just can’t police everything” (which is true.)

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Brennan April 30, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Google has been over-reaching lately in my opinion and I think this is the first step of Google going down some. It seems they think no matter what people will keep Adsense on their websites. I have seen many publishers choose other advertising services lately because they were sick of the 2-10 cents per click that Adsense has been giving them lately. I think Google needs to walk a fine line but they are stepping over it as of late and I don’t think that is good for internet marketer’s or Google in the long run.

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Robert Skelton May 1, 2009 at 6:03 pm

As to the why? of the new wording, my guess is not that they want to clamp down on everyday nice sites that happen to accidentally or deliberately link to such content – but rather they don’t like sites that are totally about such content, but rather than having it on their site, they link to it.

For example, today’s 50 hottest lesbian porn videos – a site with just 50 links on the home page, and no content. With the old guidelines this sort of site would have been acceptable.

Taking it all on step further, Google is breaking its own rules, for each of their search results are links, and they link to everything that exists online (except Nazi stuff).

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Honey Singh May 3, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Is it an improvement in service or showing the impact of king?
Google wants what he wants to do,may be he thinks that selling illegal drugs,piracy,cracking are bad boy hats but what about “Sales of beer or hard alcohol?”
Moreover if “Sales of tobacco or tobacco-related products” are illegal then why government is not banning them?
Their are so many other questions in my mind but thanks for this share and let us know with this latest updates.

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Zania May 27, 2009 at 5:24 pm

This is nothing new.
I work in adult and mainstream.
I buy adwords to promote my adult sites.
Many of my mainstream sites have adsense on them.
The two are not related.

If targetted correctly (and before google gets greedy), my adwords ads for my adult sites show up well in the search results.

If targetted correctly, my mainstream sites get good adsense adverts on the mainstream topic I am targetting.

Two different beasts and handled in different ways.

Sure, there’s hypocrisy here. Nothing surprising about that when it comes to making money.

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Dale June 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Google collects ad dollars for this type of content, but can close your account and keep the adsense dollars to boot. That is way too profitable for Google to do it that way, to the extent that its 100% profit. Why would they bother changing it?

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