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“Ads by Goooooogle”, and graphics in text-only AdSense

Google’s AdSense ads (which cover the hosting costs of this blog and forum) have always spotted an “Ads by Google” text link for identification purposes, and to send feedback. Though for about 2 months now (since December 2006), Google has been playing around with alternative marks. Problogger reports that the changes are just an ongoing test.

“the change that you saw was part of ongoing testing to improve our ad formats. Such variations are a normal part of our testing process and generally run for short periods of time only. No permanent changes are planned at this time.”

Since I’ve started noticing such abnormalities on my own website, I became curious as to what variations Google was experimenting with. The small percentage of changes made it rare to come across special ads, even when you are looking for them on purpose. In a 600 impressions sample on my own forums, I have gotten just a 3% deviation. Interesting observation is that 80% of finds appeared when Google Search was the referer, as oppose to the internal traffic. Are AdSense ads referer sensitive? It might appear so, at least in this sample.

Feeling like a kid again, grinding boss runs in Diablo 2, looking for that rare item drop, I have assembled a table of finds:

  • AdSense ads by goooooogle
  • “Ads by Goooooogle” is the most common variation that will appear. Fully text based, it carries little impact over the original “Ads by Google”.
  • AdSense G image
  • In the most common image variation, Google’s FavIcon is appended at the end.
  • AdSense Google image
  • This rare link has “Ads by Google” spelled out in an image. The bold letters stand out more noticably over the above samples.
  • AdSense Feedback
  • This unique item often shows up for image ad units, but for a text-based block I’ve seen it just once.
  • AdSense goooooogle and G image
  • A bugged item? This particular drop features both the “Goooooogle” spelling, and the image based suffix. It’s possible that those variations are independed of each other, and very rarely will both come up together.
  • Google Checkout AdSense
  • New: The use of a shopping cart graphic in a text-only AdSense ad. The image’s alternative text reads “This site accepts Google Checkout”.

Most people concern over the decreased performance of their really well blended ads. Though they are probably borderline violating AdSense’s TOS in such a case anyways. Besides, this is just a small scale test. The alternative theory is that simply mixing it up a bit will draw more attention to the ad unit itself, and instead increase its performance. I suppose the results of this trial will become more apparent in time, when Google finalizes any changes.

Uhh... nothing else appears to be relevant enough.

Discussion

  1. Posted by Google AdSense - New Ad Format? | AVINASH 2.0 | March 15, 2007, 2:08 am

    [...] Update: Tony just wrote in his comment that Google has been trying these new ad formats since a month. You may want to visit this link to see many other ad formats. [...]

  2. Posted by Avinash | March 15, 2007, 2:19 am

    I wish they make the tab-like ad format the default AdSense ad format. It looks so cool. :) You know what I think? The screenshot that I took today is the same format as the 3rd image in your article. Maybe it’s looking different because of my background selection?

    Reply to comment

  3. Posted by Tony | March 15, 2007, 2:26 am

    Yeah, it’s the same font image, but I think they have since added a contrasting background as you have spotted. I believe I’ve also seem some that looked like an arrow instead of a tab. Such minor variations are likely to continue as an ongoing experiment for Google to collect more data.

    Reply to comment

  4. Posted by bhupen | April 7, 2007, 12:57 pm

    I think it’s time to slap those abusing sites…

    I hope their AD SCRIPT becomes so smart that it actually hides when it is placed in a location which violates the terms and conditions of AD-SENSE. The first thing it should do is, look around and see if there is an image of a sexy girl or man on right,left,top,bottom, then of course the script will look at the content : is it a login page ? is it a registration page? is it a search page ?

    Google should have an intelligent adsense script to prevent the misuse of its product. Just by providing bigger LOGOS of “Ads by Google” won’t work!

    Reply to comment

  5. Posted by Tony | April 7, 2007, 4:02 pm

    AdSense does scan the page – first time it loads. Of course the page and its content could change since. Besides, it seems that “Ads by Goooooogle” and graphical logos have enough of a desirable effect, as they appears to be rolled out on a wider scale now.

    Reply to comment

  6. Posted by Scott Richardson | April 10, 2007, 9:06 pm

    I’ve seen my CTR over 4 websites go from a very steady 12-14% down to 6-8% overnight when these new graphic ads by google started showing up last Thursday. I’ve showed my CTR stats to Google as well, because I’m not at all happy with this new graphic. Whoever thought up this bright idea needs to be terminated.

    I use a lot of the 234×60 single ads format and the new black graphic is there in your face, and dead center in my page, often overpowering the small ad’s text. When I selected text only ads, that’s what I expected to get – not this big ugly graphic.

    The google logo should be an option you can pick in your settings, the same as amazon.com lets you do with their logo – text or graphic. At least give us an option.

    I just hope anyone who has seen a dramatic drop in CTR complains. If they lose enough revenue, maybe they will do something about it. Ads that no one clicks on don’t do the publisher or the advertiser any good.

    In the mean time, I’ve applied to YPN. If this drop in CTR continues, I’m out of here.

    Reply to comment

  7. Posted by Tony | April 11, 2007, 10:11 pm

    @Scott – well it’s not like Google rolled out the new graphical ads overnight. They’ve been testing “ads by goooooogle” since last year. I can only infer that on a large enough scale, they’ve liked the results of the implemented changes.

    Remember, if you’re loosing money, Google is also loosing money. If everybody was to experience the same rate of drop as you describe, then Google would have quickly retracted their changes.

    Has this countered accidental clicks? I don’t know. Though you are right that the large logo graphic seems overpowering in small units such as 234×60. Perhaps it’s time to rethink a design.

    Reply to comment

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