It goes without saying that Google Adsense is one of the most popular monetization methods for all kinds of websites and Google knows it. As such, they have imposed an update to their terms of service agreement on us. When you log into your Adsense account, you will be presented with the screen above, getting you to agree to the new terms.

Normally, something like this would fly under the radar and most people wouldn’t notice. However, this new TOS agreement includes a stipulation that will affect all web publishers: we all now need an explicitly stated privacy policy on all of our sites that use Google Adsense. More specifically, we need to tell all of our visitors that third parties, like Adsense, may be placing cookies on their computers without their knowledge and then we have to inform them of their different cookie management options.

In the new Google Adsense Terms and Conditions agreement it reads:

You must have and abide by an appropriate privacy policy that complies with applicable privacy and data protection laws and that clearly discloses that third parties may be placing and reading cookies on your usersโ€™ browser, or using web beacons to collect information, in the course of ads being served on your website. Your privacy policy should also include information about user options for cookie management.

You don’t need to have a privacy policy published on your blog right now, but you will soon. Scrolling to the bottom of the TOS, you’ll see this:


In case you can’t read that, you have until May 25, 2008 to accept the new TOS. I don’t have a problem with this, per se, but wouldn’t it have been nice if Google provided their publishers with a sample privacy policy? Most of us aren’t legal types, so we may or may not know exactly what needs to be included in a proper privacy policy.

The other major announcement in the Adsense TOS involves what they call Gadget Ads. These are “rich media” ads that incorporate “data feeds, maps, images, audio, video, Flash, HTML or JavaScript in a single creative.” Yup, that’s what we need… more flashing banners selling us on Zwinky, smilies, and MySpace templates.