Do Google Clarifications Cause More Confusion?

Sometimes I think Google splits hairs and that is where confusion starts – when they actually tell us things.

Last week, Google had a clarification about another post by them on accidental clicks.

Now, I understand that Google does not want readers to click on ads accidentally. They do not want a reader to have a hard time if they are trying to navigate a site without clicking Adsense ads.

You probably do not want a reader leaving your site accidentally if they are trying to navigate it either.

If you have any affiliate links on the site, the longer they are on the site and the more often they see the affiliate links, the more likely they are to click an affiliate link. The only reason you would not want a reader to check around your site, is if you have some type of made for Adsense site and you really do not have any content.

Remember, if a reader is spending some time on your site, they may be back. It will be harder for them to come back if they leave accidentally without bookmarking your site first. You knew that already.

This is what Google does not want:

To help you, here’s an example of an ad placement that could have a high risk of generating accidental clicks, and which we’d recommend avoiding:

Source: Inside AdSense: A clarification on accidental clicks

The fear is that a reader might miss the navigation menu and hit the ad instead.

Now, I would look at the example shown and consider it bad site design. If it were intentional to trick the reader into clicking an ad there are far more devious ways to do this. So many sites have a banner or leaderboard ad in position under the navigation bar the situation had to be very common. Any chance you have a site with navigation that might extend down or over like this?

Just for the record, I would agree with Google that this is a bad way to set up a page.

I do not have any navigation bars that extend like this, but templates that operate like this are common. To me, this looks accidental and without real intent to confuse. I have seen intentional. It is much worse.

However, I think Google’s example of OK placing of ads near navigation is closer to intentional misleading the the above example:

A clarification on accidental clicks

We understand that there’s been some confusion surrounding our recent post about accidental clicks. Specifically, many of our publishers feel that we’ve been sending mixed messages about placing ads near navigation controls, particularly where site optimization is concerned.
For those of you concerned about our optimization tips, we still recommend integrating your ad units and link units with your page content or navigation, in order to offer your users relevant ads in addition to the content they normally see. Here are a few examples of acceptable implementations:

Source: Inside AdSense: A clarification on accidental clicks

In this case, the ads are disguised as part of the navigation.

This is what Google seems to encourage. I admit, I too try to blend Adsense ads in with content just like they are recommending here. In fact, link unit ads can be positioned very easily on a blog so that they appear to be site navigation. In this case, we are really trying to lead the reader into clicking on something they may not realize is an ad.

Also, the new Google Adsense style puts the "Ads by Google" logo very far down and away from the ads.

It is so far from the ads, that it makes anything you place below the ad appear to be the "real" ad. Checking a site of my own a few days ago, I wondered when I had added Google image Adsense ads to the site. I usually do text only ads. Then I realized the logo was from the ads above the banner and the banner was an affiliate ad.

Would someone please tell me how the above is any less confusing than this:

What do unacceptable implementations look like?
Here are some examples that wouldn’t comply with our policies.

I’m sure there is a real good reason for the distinction.

I fail to see it though. In these cases, like the "good" navigation examples ads are presented as content and mixed with it. In the fruit example, the images are clearly not samples for the advertisements. It would depend on the image in the game example if it was misleading for the ad or not.

Both cases are either mixing the ads with the content or showing related content near the ad that does not represent the ad (if it were a partridge in a pear tree would you think that was the holiday fruit?).

In both the approved navigation example and the unacceptable pictures use examples the ads are presented as part of the content of the site. I feel this is fine, as long as the reader is taken to a page that has the described content. it would not be appropriate if the reader is taken to something unrelated to the site. Also, in the game example, it would also not be right if the site is for free games and the ad would imply it leads to a free game also.

The approved navigation sample places the ads as content where the reader would be looking for content very similar to the ad.

Is this really very different from the images near the Adsense ad in the fruit example? In this case, the images provide visual interest near the ad, but clearly are not directly related to the ad. I find the fruit example the most honest example given as far as ad placement in all the examples given.

What is your opinion?

Do you think that Google is splitting hairs like I do? Do you feel Google’s approved navigation placement of ads is any more or less an honest placement of ads? Do you think the low placement of the Google logo in Adsense ads is deceptive?