Google Trying to Entice Smaller Websites

John Battelle writes in his blog about changes Google is trying to make with their AdSense campaigns and mid-size websites.  It is refreshing to see Google reach out to smaller sites, but John brings up some interesting points:

  • Searchblog: Adsense Update:  Fred, $500, and Is Google Trying Harder?I explained to the rep why Boing Boing is not using Adsense – the list is rather long. First, the ads are not very relevant – Boing Boing is pretty eclectic and updates quickly, and the content confuses the Adsense algorithms, forcing them to default to lowest common denominator type ads – like mortgage offers and affiliate sites. The Google rep countered that for sites the size of Boing Boing, Adsense can crawl more quickly, increasing the chance that more contextual ads will appear. He also reminded me that Adsense has updated tools which allow publishers to specify keywords for ads they might wish to attract, as well as ads they might want to avoid. So Boing Boing might use keywords like “music,” “gaming,” or “technology” to attract advertisements in those categories. And we can create negative keywords like “mortgage” to get rid of those offers. I knew Google had these tools, but this fellow told me Google has given the keywords more weight lately. This isn’t exactly the verticalization of Adsense I had been hoping for (I’d love it if Google let advertisers “tag” themselves so publishers can connect to those tags), but it’s a start.  The trickier part of Boing Boing’s resistance to Adsense has to do with its Terms of Service (TOS) for both advertisers and publishers. Adsense has an anti-“anti” TOS – it does not allow negative ads. This meant that ads promoting, say, anti-Bush t-shirts, were not allowed. To its credit, Google has updated this portion of their TOS (political speech is now OK), but the “anti” terminology is still in the TOS, and the definition is so vague as to be difficult to comprehend.