Karen regularly features in the finalists of all kinds of blog awards, usually in the design category. She’s also an Aussie.
The reason I wanted to point you over to her is not just because her design is pretty special but because she’s just decided to put AdSense ads on her blog.
Ok – not an earth shattering thing in and of itself – but the interesting thing is that Karen has decided to put her designer thinking into the design of her Adsense ads also.
There are two AdSense units in her sidebar and in each case she’s cleverly put a border around them that makes them look…. well… they look incredible! (screen caps above and below).
Now when i first saw the ads after an email from Karen asking what I thought I had two immediate reactions. Firstly started drooling – the ads integrate so well into her design and are incredibly tasteful (I want me some Karen!)
But secondly I found myself asking ‘are they within the AdSense rules?’ I passed these thoughts onto Karen and suggested that she email AdSense to find out.
Today she’s emailed me to say that AdSense have reviewed the ads and they are legal as long as she doesn’t alter the Ad code. As Karen has not done this she’s in the clear and the ads are approved.
It is worth noting that if you want to experiment with doing something similar that there are two main things from the AdSense Policy guidelines that you need to keep in mind:
1. You may not change the ad code itself. The wording in the policies is:
‘Any AdSense ad code, search box code, or referral code must be pasted directly into Web pages without modification. AdSense participants are not allowed to alter any portion of the ad code or change the layout, behavior, targeting, or delivery of ads for any reason.’
2. You can not be seen to be drawing undue attention to ads, either with text or images. The wording in their policy says:
‘Web pages may not include incentives of any kind for users to click on ads. This includes encouraging users to click on the ads or to visit the advertisers’ sites as well as drawing any undue attention to the ads.’
One strategy that some publishers have used that is similar (but much less subtle than Karen’s strategy) is to put images directly next to, above or below ads (directly in line with them) to make the images look like they are part of the ad. Google has ruled on many occasions that if you put images next to ads in this way that you need to have a clear border between the image and the ad.
Of course, the interpretation of this second rule is somewhat subjective and there must be a line somewhere between what people did with images (without borders) and what Karen is doing.
When in doubt I would highly recommend that you shoot AdSense an email. Politely ask if they would take a quick look at your ads to make sure you’re within their guidelines. I find that they usually respond quickly and with reasonable advice and requests. If you approach them with a question they always seem to give you the opportunity to make changes if you’ve broken the rules as long as you’re polite and make it clear that you’re approaching them because you want to operate in the rules.