This week, Jennifer Slegg, author of the blog on Contextual advertising, JenSense announced after her conversation with Brian Axe, the Senior Product Manager of Google Adsense that here on, Google Adsense can be used along with other contextual ads, though under certain specific restrictions. This is indeed a very interesting development since Google had been adamant for long to accomodate other contextual advertisements on the same page as the one where Adsense ads are being served.
This news could sound sweet for two categories of people. First are the web publishers, who have long been demanding the removal of this section of the Adsense ToS. Now web publishers definitely have the freedom to choose the kind of ads that they would like to serve on their web page. The other section has to be the lesser known contextual ad providers, including those of the kind of Kontera, intelliTXT, and Kanoodle. This slackening of the rule on part of Google means that more and more publishers are likely to try their ads out, which in effect would lead to increasing competition among the advertising network, which shall eventually result in higher CPCs and earnings.
It shall be appropriate to discuss why this change was made in the first place. One prime reason are the legal law suits looming large on the company. In the US, there exists a “restraint of trade provisions” law that prohibits any service from that hinders businesses from making money. Effectively, if you are a web publisher, by prohibiting you from displaying other contextual ads and making money, Google could be booked for action. However, this law is weak in Google’s case. Simply because the web publisher was never forced to publish Adsense ads in the first place. So, he can always choose to display other ads over Adsense.
However, this is not all. Like it happened to Microsoft in 1999, Google could have been fined upto $10,000,000 for monopolizing the market of contextual advertising. Since these are law suits that were only waiting to happen, it was upon Google to change the Terms of Service sooner or later.
From Jennifer’s article, even Yahoo seems to be giving indications that they could be slackening the rules a bit. Though at the outset, it could mean an ushering of the open era, there are certain questions remaining to be answered.
For one, how are those who have been banned in the past for violating this specific clause of ToS be reinstated? Shall they remain to be banned for having vioated a ToS while it existed or be reinstated simply because the rule that got them banned no longer exists? All this is going to take some time to be settled, unless Google straighaway chooses to keep banned publishers still out from the game.
The other ad-serving networks should be expecting a surge in their user base as well as on their revenues. However still, it is going to be a race for the second place, and so, anytime Google chooses to revert the rule back, they are going to lose again, though it is very unlikely to happen. The publishers, no doubt are going to have a field day. But, it remains to be seen how the ‘visitors’ world is going to take the news. They can now expect more prime estate of the web page going to ads, more cluttering of ad blocks, and lesser content space. This is definitely not an encouraging news to those advocating for high-content websites.