Google AdSense Poison Words & The AdSense/AdWords Double Standard

Sep 18, 2009 • 5:23 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google AdSense

There is an interesting Google AdSense Help thread on the topic of specific words that seem to cause Google to show PSA (public service ads) that do not earn the publisher money.

One example I can show you is a blog post on my personal blog named Went To The Pizza Store Naked.... The word "naked" trigged AdSense to show a PSA in the ad slot, because it is against AdSense's TOS to show ads for adult content. If you read the blog post, you can clearly see that no one was naked but the toy troll.

Here is a picture of the PSA near the content:

AdSense Poison Words

The ad in the top right position is a PSA.

The AdSense publisher said her site, which is about politics, uses words like this all the time. She calls them poison words, because they kill her potential to make money with Google. She also said that the following words are considered "poison," death, prison, drugs, gun, funeral, shot, killed, war, terrorist, and jail. I have tested some of these on my personal blog and not all meet those requirements.

What I find even more interesting is a point Gracey made in that thread. Gracey said that there is a double standard here. When you conduct a search for naked in Google, ads do show up, but at the same time - content with the word naked in it, prevents ads from showing up. Publishers want to know why is there one set of rules for AdWords and another for AdSense?

Here is a picture of ads that show for the keyword [naked] in Google:

Google Ads for Naked

The original thread creator summed up her frustration, saying:

Rather than pretending this doesnt exist, how about helping those of us who are not running porn sites or gambling dens or are crackers, hackers and hate sites... But we who are just writing about history and the news of the day. Help us overcome what Google, in good faith, is doing trying to deal with the bad boys. We are not bad boys!

Forum discussion at Google AdSense Help.

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matt mernagh

09/18/2009 09:34 am

there are plenty more examples. sub categories of drugs also brings up psa, but not all the time. drugs rehab for example is a good term. there's a fine line to bring up the money and psa. but there clearly is a double standard at work from google.


09/18/2009 12:00 pm

You can call it a double standard I guess, but keep in mind that if the publisher doesn't make money, Google doesn't make money either. So Google is losing money with these PSAs too. They just feel that displaying their advertisers' ads on potentially inappropriate third party sites is not worth the risk.

Barry Schwartz

09/18/2009 12:22 pm

Right, so show ads related to the content of the blog post, not specific words like "naked." :)

Michael Martinez

09/18/2009 05:11 pm

I thought AdSense allowed us to use some sort of HTML comment or something that says, "Don't look at this text for AdSense contextual relevance". I could swear I saw an AdSense tip about that a time or two.

Lea de Groot

09/22/2009 09:45 am

@michael - yes, there is 'section targeting'. But wrapping it around individual words seems like overkill!


12/24/2009 04:51 am

I was doing well Adwords on our site, then all on sudden they suspended my account why I wrote anything about adwords at my site. While I found many sites with Google content copied -no problem. Why?

No Name

04/10/2010 01:43 am

There's definitely a Google Double Standard. It not hard to find hundreds of websites filled with lolicon (child cartoon porn) using adsense. check out the post I wrote about it:

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