Shopping.com Encouraging Users to Click on AdSense Ads


Last weekend Shopping.com encouraged its users to click on AdSense ads.

Here are examples for a couple searches. Notice the big SEE SITE buttons next to the ads:

Shopping.com AdSense

Shopping.com AdSense

According to my read of the Google’s AdSense Policy, Shopping.com’s actions are in violation of that policy:

In order to ensure a good experience for users and advertisers, publishers may not request that users click the ads on their sites or rely on deceptive implementation methods to obtain clicks. Publishers participating in the AdSense program:

* May not encourage users to click the Google ads by using phrases such as “click the ads,” “support us,” “visit these links,” or other similar language
* May not direct user attention to the ads via arrows or other graphical gimmicks
* May not place misleading images alongside individual ads
* May not promote sites displaying ads through unsolicited mass emails or unwanted advertisements on third-party websites
* May not compensate users for viewing ads or performing searches, or promise compensation to a third party for such behavior
* May not place misleading labels above Google ad units – for instance, ads may be labeled “Sponsored Links” but not “Favorite Sites”

When I asked Shopping.com about this, they said that their “relationship with AdSense is confidential.”

Does this mean that Google AdSense sanctioned this test? I figured that this was just a programmer error, but that’s obviously not the response that I got.

So I’ll put it to my readers:
1. Is this a violation of Google’s AdSense Policies?
2. Is this a good user experience or is this just tricking the users into clicking on a link. The SEE SITE buttons Shopping.com posted next to the AdSense ads are the same ones they use for product listing results:
shopping.com adsense

About these ads

6 Responses to Shopping.com Encouraging Users to Click on AdSense Ads

  1. vic_berggren says:

    Programmer error? Looks like overzealous marketing geek error.

  2. Affiliata says:

    Brian – you made a post the other day about shogging.com and made reference to an admission that pepperjam called it arbitrage. We all know that shopping.com and every other comparison engine have exactly the same model. The above example is slightly innacurate in the way you have described it. Shopping.com do not use AdSense. They may show the same Google ads but they have an entirely different deal with Google through their syndication team. Their contract will be very different to a standard AdSense contract. In your specific example, their system will first check to see if they have merchants on the term “buy nintendo wii” [we know that merchants stopped using the comparison engines on this term due to stock issues]. So, rather than pulling their AdWords advertising [very difficult if you bid on millions of terms] they pull in their Google feed and send that same term to Google to show these results. It basically stops them losing money through sending the user to a page with nothing on it.

  3. Brian Smith says:

    Thanks for the comment, affiliata. I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but had trouble. Yup, you’re right, Shopping.com (SDC) has a special relationship with Google, and they don’t use AdSense, but do you think that Google would allow SDC to encourage users to click on ads in the way they did in the screen shots above? I can’t imagine this happening…but I’ll ping Jennifer Slegg and some other people who know contextual advertising much better than I do.

  4. I agree with you Brian in that they are going against Adsense policies. But I have come across many sites that go against the policies. It seems to me that Google is not in a big hurry to “bust” people going against their policies, as long as they are making money. I also believe that Google just does not have the manpower to monitor the entire system. The only way that they would catch someone would be if someone brought it to their attention and if enough people complained about it. Google allows MANY sites to commit arbitrage because they benefit from it!

  5. SEO'Brien says:

    Nice discovery
    Must be sanctioned by Google, Shopping is too large for it to go unnoticed due to a lack of manpower. I actually like the integration, I think it makes it clearer to the user that you are going somewhere else: “See Site”
    As for Shopping’s use (policy?) in ensuring arbitrage for keywords on which they’ve bid in adwords but may not have inventory, I’m appalled. That amounts to nothing more than domain squatting by attracting customers to their site/domain, adding no value, and redirecting the user off to another site through Google’s ads which is what the user should have followed from Google in the first place. Shopping.com should know better; rather, I’m sure they know better, they should act responsibly and ethically and clean up their act.

  6. I have been using comparison websites for a while now but I hate the fact that you can never be satisfied that the price that is being advertised as the minimum is actual the lowest unless you cross reference with other comparison sites. I was thinking to myself the other day why there wasn’t a somparison site that would have a very comprehensive list of merchants and products and I stumbled on tafuma.co.uk. It is a new site but these guys seem to be listing more products from more merchants than the big 5, the likes of kelkoo, ciao, pricerunner, pricegrabber and nextag. I don’t know I thought the same when nextag burst on the scene but it’s all gone down hill hopefully you guys at tafuma.co.uk keep it up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 295 other followers

%d bloggers like this: