March 2, 2008

New AdSense Policies - Are You Fully Compliant?

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Yes, indeedy doody! As some of you may already know, Google has recently updated the AdSense Terms and Conditions.

It's updating in a rolling release, so if you haven't seen it in your AdSense account just yet, don't worry; you will. It'll be the first page you see when you log in, and you definitely can't miss it!

New AdSense Terms and Conditions

At the very bottom of the Google AdSense™ Online Standard Terms and Conditions agreement you'll see three choices:

• Yes, I have read and accept the above Terms and Conditions.
• Remind the the next time I log in.
• No, I do not accept the above Terms and Conditions.

Obviously, you must accept the new AdSense Terms and Conditions in order to continue using AdSense on your blog or website, but for now you can just choose the second option in order to bypass the AdSense agreement page and view your AdSense earnings and account information - so long as you accept the new AdSense Terms and Conditions by March 25, 2008.

So...Beware the Ides of March! And then just add 10 days. :P

The AdSense Agreement Changes

So what's changed? Well, a lot of things. But probably the most significant change to the AdSense Terms and Conditions is that now you must:

"have and abide by an appropriate privacy policy that clearly discloses that third parties may be placing and reading cookies on your users’ browser, or using web beacons to collect information, in the course of ads being served on your website. Your privacy policy should also include information about user options for cookie management."

Yes, you read that correctly. The new AdSense Terms and Conditions now require you to have a privacy policy on your blog/website that discloses the placement and readerment (as George Bush might say :P) of HTTP cookies (also known as web cookies, or just cookies), the usage of web beacons, and what have you.

Now, if writing a such a privacy policy seems a bit daunting, or if you just plain old don't have time to do so, don't worry. I'll be posting a sample website privacy policy here soon that you'll be free to use and amend in any way you see fit.

UPDATE: Here's that sample website privacy policy.

As for the changes, themselves, most fall into two broad categories:

• Future products and features
• Privacy requirements

From the Google AdSense blog:

"Specifically, one of the main changes is that the terms anticipate future products that may become available in other advertising formats and mediums, for example Gadget Ads. As we look forward to monetizing more online and offline content, we've re-worded some portions of the terms to make them applicable across a broader array of media and formats -- anticipating, for example, that future products may be priced, paid, or managed differently than current ones."

and...

"We've also added some specific requirements that make it necessary for publishers to post and abide by a transparent privacy policy that users see. According to this policy, publishers must notify their users of the use of cookies and/or web beacons to collect data in the ad serving process. This change relates to advertisers' use of innovative products and features like Gadget Ads and other offerings in the future."

Thou Shalt Not Badmouth Google

I can't for the life of me remember whether or not this was included in the previous AdSense Terms and Conditions agreement, though I'm quite sure that it must have been. I mean, I can't imagine a company of such magnitude forgetting to include such a thing, so at the risk of being an "ass" I'm just going assume that it was always there.

Nonetheless, I feel that it's quite important to highlight this portion of the agreement since many AdSense users are not in compliance with it...

Under the "Prohibited Uses" section it states that you shall not:

"engage in any action or practice that reflects poorly on Google or otherwise disparages or devalues Google’s reputation or goodwill."

Translation: Do not speak ill of Google. Do not badmouth Google...at all. Bottom line, if you have any issue or problem that is at all related to Google, then take it up with Google. Do not publish (blog about, post about, or comment about) any woes you may have regarding anything related to Google, for it is against the AdSense Terms and Conditions.

And that's a good policy, though some may not wholeheartedly agree with it. But every company has the right to require this of its users, and to take appropriate action if they don't follow it. It's called "information control." We live it every day. And whether or not you agree with it per se, is another matter entirely.

But the bottom line is this: If you agree to the new AdSense agreement, then you are agreeing not to engage in any action or practice that reflects poorly on Google, its reputation, or its goodwill.

So be fully aware that any and all Google badmouthing is not in accordance with the Google AdSense agreement, and could result in your AdSense account being banned indefinitely. Consider yourself warned. :P

What Else Has Changed With AdSense?

Quite a lot, actually. I had originally planned to write a lenghty blog post that would outline and dissect each and every change, omission and addition to the AdSense Terms and Conditions - that is, until I checked out Jennifer Slegg's blog, JenSense.

After carefully reading her post on the recent AdSense Terms and Conditions update, I concluded that there really isn't much of a need for me to construct such a blog post, for she's done quite a stellar job of it, herself. So a little link love here is in order. :)

In her post, Jennifer has carefully outlined and explained each of the AdSense agreement changes - and in great detail, I might add. So before you hurriedly click to accept the new AdSense Terms and Conditions agreement in order to "just get it over with," be absolutely sure that you know and understand everything to which you are agreeing.

See, I've been to many of the webmaster forums lately, and as silly as it sounds, that's exactly what many bloggers and website owners are doing. Unfortunately, they're the ones who may one day be alerted to the fact that their AdSense accounts have been banned for noncompliance. And that's never a good thing.

So be sure to check out Jennifer's post if you're at all in wonderment regarding Google's new AdSense Terms and Conditions update. It could be the difference between making money with AdSense, or not making any at all.

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