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:
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.