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Major Google Policy Changes for Publishers Announced!

Brian Blondy, September 22, 2016


What You Need to Know Today

We wanted to give you an important update about recent policy changes Google has announced for publishers which may have an effect on how you plan the layout of content and ads on any given page on your site.

In order to get you up to speed and to potentially know whether your website needs to make any changes, below you will find a FAQ aiming to answer the most important aspects of Google’s new policy changes.  If you have a question or concerns that have not been answered, please reach out to us here and we will get back to you. 

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What is the New Policy?

Google now requires that you have more publisher provided content than ads. This is a change from the old, rigid number of ads policy.

What does Google Consider to be “Publisher-Provided Content”?

Google considers “publisher-provided content” to be any content created or curated by the publisher and which is not obscured by pop-ups or other content. This applies to anything from text, images or logos, video, games or interactivity, internal content from search or recommendations, other forms of content directly related to the purpose of the user interacting with the site or application and house ads. User generated content, like article discussions and comments, for which the publisher must take responsibility are also considered publisher-provided content.

What isn’t Considered to be “Publisher-Provided Content?”

When evaluating publisher-provided content, Google does not consider the following as content:

  • Ads – This includes both ad content provided by Google or a third-party ad provider. This includes text, image, rich media, video, native, click-to-download, product listing ads, and other formats.
  • Content that drives traffic to another website. This is typically in the form of sponsored or paid content recommendations and links, called content recommendation widgets. But these can also take the form of “sponsored” content or affiliate banners.
  • Search boxes (Google or others), tabs, and external widgets.
  • Navigation a site’s internal navigation is deemed as neutral, i.e. neither ads nor content.

Case Studies

Example #1 – How much display advertising is too much when paired with content?



    • Grey=Neutral
    • Green=Content
    • Red=Ads

As you can see the ads clearly outweigh the content on this page, you can make this policy compliant by adding to the content or removing some revenue generating units.

Unobscured “white space”, including background images, that is used by the publisher to space content is not counted as either publisher-provided content or as non-publisher content.  That portion of the screen is not counted either way in the evaluation.

Example #2 – How much display advertising is too much when paired with content?



  • Grey=Neutral
  • Green=Content
  • Red=Ads

As there is effectively only a video player on the page the most compliant view is to just use Google to monetize the video (provided the content is yours!). If you also want to be able to monetize the page with display units, you should ensure there is enough content on the page to support that.

Is there a tool that can help measure this?

Such a tool does not exist. The Google policy team uses human reviews for this evaluation.

Can you help review my website for compliance?

Total Media’s team of specialists are familiar with the specifics of the policy changes and what Google is centrally seeking from publishers to achieve website compliance.  We are more than happy to provide clarification and guidance on the program’s policies, but note that Google’s policy specialists, not Total Media, will have final discretion on whether or not your site is Google compliant. If Google’s reviewers determine that your site is not compliant, you’ll receive an official warning directly from Google’s policy team (not from Total Media), and then you will be provided with sufficient time to fix the issue(s).

Upon request, Total Media can provide you the specific Google mandated guidelines around publisher-provided content and non-publisher provided content as briefly outlined above and offer your team some guidance and consultation relating to any modifications that need to be undertaken.

To get you started, below you will find two links to the specific policy changes that have been prepared by Google.

How does Google Measure the Amount of Publisher-Provided Content Against the Amount of Ad Content per page?

Pages will be manually reviewed to identify the amount of publisher-provided content in comparison to the amount of ads and paid promotional materials placed on the page. Following that comparison, Google will then evaluate if there is more ad content on the page than publisher-provided content and take action accordingly.

Will Google be Evaluating my Website on a View-Screen Basis?

No. Google will review your overall page(s) and not review individual view-screens. This way you do not need to ensure that each view-screen has more publisher-provided content than advertising, but instead ensure that the overall page (from the top of the page until the end of the content) has more publisher-provided content than advertising.

How Will the New Policies be Enforced?

If Google finds that the ads exceed the amount of publisher-provided content on your page(s), publishers will receive a violation. To fix this violation the publisher will need to do one (or all) of the following:

  • Increase the amount of publisher-provided content to meet the requirements of this policy
  • Reduce the amount of non publisher-provided content

Depending on the severity, Google reserves the right to limit or disable ad serving on that page until the necessary changes are made to achieve compliance.

Assistance from Total Media

From our experience working with successful publishers around the world, we see first-hand that not all policy violations are malicious in nature.  We have seen violations occur to honest publishers whom just featured too many ads in one area of a page, a news article featuring a picture in violation to Google’s policy standard, or even an error resulting from a simple coding mistake.

If you need further consultation further understanding Google’s new publisher policies, you can reach out to us here and we’ll get back to you shortly.

Brian Blondy is the Marketing Manager at Total Media.  You can contact Brian by email at brian (at) totalmediasolutions (dot) com or on LinkedIn