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Firefox Referrals Success Story on Google Blog Leaves Us Puzzled about Adsense Policies


Dan Friedman from AdSense Product Marketing just published a new case study on the Official Adsense blog that shares how GrownUpGeek.com doubled the Adsense income by optimizing the implementation of Firefox Referral buttons on their website.
By adding a referral button to his site, Brown realized he could direct users to Firefox with the Google Toolbar. When a referral connects a user to Firefox, Google pays Brown each time.
This Adsense case study has left us perplexed. If we understand the Adsense Program Policies correctly, the site mentioned above is violating some of those rules.

Before we go further, here's a quick recap of Adsense Policies:

» Referral buttons are considered to be 'Google ads' for purposes of these program policies.

» No Google ad may be placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads, whether or not the page content is relevant.

» Publishers may not label the ads with text other than "sponsored links" or "advertisements." This includes any text directly above our ads that could be confused with, or attempt to be associated with Google ads.

» 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.

Now let's take a quick look at the site in question and why we think it may be violating Adsense TOS.

1. There is a specific page on the site designed for downloading Firefox browser using the Adsense referral button violating rule 2 above.

2. The text just above the Firefox download button says - "Click the button below to download for free" - violating rules 3 and 4 above.

Can anyone throw light here. The Firefox referral button on the front page is in absolute agreement with Adsense policies but the inner page causes all the confusion. Maybe our understanding of the Adsense referral policies is wrong or Google overlooked that.

Still, if anyone plans to implement Firefox referrals just like this site has done, we strongly suggest that you take prior approval from Google Adsense Support.

Read our previous Adsense case studies - Scott Hanselman, Guy Kawasaki, Rashmi Bansal

Update: Randy Brown, site owner of GrownUpGeek.com, just wrote back saying he has confirmed with Dan Friedman at Google that directing attention to the referrals in this way IS acceptable. He also points to the following referral tip from Google support website
Actively endorse the products you refer. Unlike with AdSense for content ads, we encourage you to endorse referral products by calling attention to the button or text link. If you believe in the quality of the product that you're referring, feel free to let your users know!
Proves that our understanding of the Adsense product referral program rules was not correct. Unlike contextual Adsense ads, here you may use text like "click to download" nears the referral buttons.