AdSense Serving Pornographic Ads (Offensive Language)

In the blog community, one of advice I often give with regards to generating money is not to earn at all. At least, not in the beginning or until such time when a blog receives a lot of organic traffic. Even so, serving ads may not be in the best interest of the audience. For instance, Google AdSense serves pornographic ads.

Before continuing, here is a fair warning and a disclaimer.

1. This post contains language that some people, depending on context, may find offensive. Some people may also view the same material as outright pornographic.

2. I have included screenshots from two external websites. Both have no part in this, and they have no control over what Google AdSense serves.

I have nothing against advertising. If bloggers can earn money, then that helps in compensating for the cost and time. Let me also state that putting up ads comes with a responsibility to the audience.

As the publisher of our personal or commercial space, we control what visitors see and read.

Is it not true that our blog is a web representation of our character or intentions?

Deceptive Marketing Pages

Before discussing Google AdSense, let me share an experience I had in the past to set the tone.

A contextual ad company asked me to try their platform which has the same idea as Outbrain. By adding a piece of code, it enables a site to display sponsored content – the same ones seen on CNN, for example.

Contextual means that it shows ads related to the content of the original post. I tried it on an old blog, and it worked. For instance, I have an article on safety concerns in losing weight. The ad platform displayed sponsored content related to weight loss.

I checked out one of the articles, to see if it is true that the company filters the advertisers.

Here is what I found out.

It took me to a page where an individual talked about her personal journey using a product to lose a lot of weight. Of course, the intent is to sell the fantastic product.

Reading the comments section, there were a lot of testimonials. Several stated how they followed that post and in X months, they lost Y kilos. It was a lame attempt though, as the original post was published only a couple of days before my visit.

Suffice to say, I removed the platform from my blog.

I am not about to let even one reader visit a deceptive page.

Google AdSense Policy on Adult Content

Serving AdSense on a blog is one way to earn an income. But Google is picky and stringent before approving a website. In fact, they are so strict that many bloggers feel proud once accepted to the program.

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Looking at their policy, they do not allow publishers to display ads sites with adult content.

  • Nudity and pornography
  • Sexually gratifying content
  • Fetishes and sexual aids
  • Mail order brides, escort services, adult or sexual dating sites
  • Adult links to external sites
  • Adult search results
  • Explicit text and extreme profanity
  • Comment spam
  • Sexual tips and health

For more details, head over to their policy page on adult content.

There are two sides to Google AdSense. Bloggers, in this case, are the publishers. Of course, there are the advertisers as well.

On Google being strict with websites serving ads, there is no question at all.

How about the advertisers using Google AdSense?

Google AdSense Displaying Pornographic Ads

I keep seeing pornographic ads that are distasteful and offensive for weeks already. Finally, I decided to use incognito mode to confirm what I already knew. For the uninitiated, browsing in this way ensures that there is no personal history to influence what is served by Google AdSense.

Here is the first one.

Google AdSense Pornographic Ad in AskPinoyBloggers
Google AdSense pornographic ad in an article on creating blogs.

See the ad written in the Filipino language?

Loose translation: Do you want to have three hours of having an erect penis? I will fuck housewife for three hours.

Friends, that is Google AdSense displaying an offensive ad in an article on creating a blog.

Here is another one.

Google AdSense Pornographic Ad in SunStar
Google AdSense pornographic ad in a news story.

Loose translation: Housewife, I will fuck for 12 hours. Guaranteed pleasure all night.

Again, the same advertiser appears in AdSense network. Google is strict in accepting publishers that many in the industry feel repressive. Yet, they are lax in allowing these kinds of ads.

Pornographic ads appearing in different kinds of articles and sites. In this case, it is from a news site reporting about a Filipina winning a writing contest.

Being Responsible Displaying Ads

It has been years since I used AdSense. But I still maintain an account because I had been experimenting a little with advertising.

Anyway, Google is supposed to display contextual ads. In other words, these are ads from their network of advertisers that are related to the content.

So, pornographic ads are relevant to creating blogs and winning contests?

It is not my place to tell bloggers and other website owners what to do. For the income from AdSense to matter, the site has to have tens of thousands of visitors a day. Once the amount of money becomes significant, will these owners even think of their responsibility to the audience?

As for me, I maintain that it is better to work with individual brands rather than show random ads.

Friends, I really want to hear your thoughts on this matter. Please leave comments to share your insight.

ROBERT LEE

Content Manager, Article Writer, Blogger

16 Comments
  1. Well, when I tried Google Adsense a long time ago I never got pornographic ads on my site, but I did get some strange stuff that made no sense, so I got rid of it. OMG, I’d hate it if someone came to my site and was served pornographic ads. I don’t use any sort of instant ad service, only ads that fit my purpose. At the most, I use Amazon Native Ads.

    1. Orana,

      When I was testing Google AdSense and its localization, I came to realize a few things.

      1. We know that individual history has a bearing on the type of ads shown. More than the tracking, there are other factors. One is geography. In particular, I am located in the Philippines. Hence, the ads shown are those where the country was not excluded.

      2. Because the ad itself was in the Filipino language, it tells me one thing. Obviously, the advertiser chose the Philippines as the target audience.

      3. I doubt if Google will allow obscene ads to continue showing up if they knew about it. But they are not making it easy for anyone to report it.

      4. No matter how wholesome a site is, Google AdSense may show offensive ads to specific readers. It blows my mind that the test I did, I did not only log out of Google and cleared the history (cache). I also use the incognito mode of Chrome. In other words, there were no references to anything related to sex, and those obscene ads still appeared.

      So, I agree with your strategy of being very picky about the advertising platform that you use.

  2. When I started Momi Berlin, all I wanted was to share my experience. Then I learned that somehow I could influence thus need to be responsible for my content. I agree that as a publisher, we have control of what visitors see and read. It is not only about AdSense or advertising but content as well.

    There are so many opportunities offering dollars just to accommodate a link or mention of their brand, but the brand or product is not aligned with the principles you’ve set. Despite the amount, because I can control what my visitors can see and read, I can opt to be the Momi Berlin and dismiss the offer.

    Mommies, as I see them, should be thinking and protect their children. They should talk with grace. Perhaps I may change mind if the amount offered is too significant. But God must be really caring and loving; He doesn’t want me to be tempted thus I still do not find big enough offers yet, I think.

    1. Berlin,

      About the only control, we have on our blog is the content itself. Of course, that goes without saying that we choose the backend and other elements. Once we add third-party services, then other influences creep into our site. Although I wrote explicitly about Google AdSense, I may as well be referring to all other advertising platforms.

      I have tried many over the last several years. It is not only AdSense and similar programs, but also the sponsored content platforms too. Regardless of which, they all present one problem – we do not have control over the ad they roll out to our site visitors. Even with the promise of contextual ads, they do not work 100% of the time.

      On the income itself, of course, it comes down to being responsible. But the question is this:

      “Who are we responsible to?”

  3. I must say, this is a thought-provoking post, especially for bloggers. I’m relatively a newbie blogger and have heard of AdSense as a form of passive income. However, like your observation, at some point, these ads don’t get screened thoroughly. And for some weird reason, make their way into our content even if it’s not related. Using AdSense then would just probably boil down to what one truly stands for.

  4. OMG! This is really disturbing. Even if I am not approved on AdSense, and I do not have ads on my blog, I still don’t want this kind of ads lurking on my page. People might think that I am paid, and I’m earning from putting pornographic ads on my blog. If this is what ads will do to my site, might as well not be approved at all. Imagine if children will do some research, see this type of ad, and click it. Might as well work with individual brands instead of getting random ads like this.

  5. Not sure if that was AdSense on the sidebar of a site I visited before. Couldn’t remember the website either but I do remember that I was reading about medicinal plants at that time – and there were these sexual pictures on the sidebar ads. Obviously unrelated stuff. I had to switch tabs when my kid walked past quickly. It wasn’t like I was doing anything wrong, but it feels uncomfortable just the same that I had to do that when what I’m actually looking at are the contents of the site, you know?

  6. I don’t know. I haven’t really encountered pornographic ads by AdSense before. I have this notion that the ads that are being displayed to you depended on the types of websites you browsed. Example, every day I check online stores for sales. Thus Google AdSense keeps on feeding me with online shops and items that have marked down prices.

    1. Jill,

      If it worked as Google intended, then the ads I took offense with would not have shown up. In fact, it is against their policy. So, what happened was that there were entities who are smart enough to find ways to circumvent the restriction. Because of that, the pornographic ads appear.

      It does not matter if there is a personal history. In my case, once it appeared, I started a series of tests, and that includes browsing with no cookies and any form of trackers.

      AdSense, as anyone can see, is not perfect in filtering ads. So, imagine how absurd it is in some situations. For example, a Filipino educational site for children and those obscene ads appears.

  7. Ever since I started blogging, I have already thought of earning through it. Then there came the day that I tried applying for Google AdSense. It was a lot easier if Blogger/BlogSpot was used since it’s under Google. With my experience, I’ve never encountered such ads on my site. Most were about travels. But, there are choices or categories to choose from yet, this pornographic ads still is quite puzzling.

  8. How can Google wink and let porn in? It is considered to be the god of the advertising world. But after reading this post, it makes me wonder if, in some remote corner of the world, some people might be watching porn on my website! And I am serious. How to find that out?

    1. Swayam,

      Hi, how are you doing? To answer your question on finding out the kinds of ads shown through your Google AdSense enabled site, there is no easy way. I am now aware of any tool that can do that but here is one method.

      1. Sign out from Google account and clear your browser cache. Use incognito mode and visit your website.

      2. I am not sure if Google can detect your IP address while using incognito mode. If it does, then it is possible to use VPN and choose another country as the origin. Visit your site after clearing the cache again to see the ads.

      Google does not allow adult ads, let alone the obscene ones. But it is not 100% guaranteed. You can read more about this in my reply to Joanna’s comment.

  9. It’s quite shocking, to be honest, and I’m amazed that such language has managed to pass Google’s filters. I have experience with Google from the other side, as an advertiser who chooses the display network (AdSense) to show ads on different blogs and websites. I’ve gotten ads disapproved for minor things, like adding more than one “!” for example. So I am completely stunned by those ads. Did you report them by any chance? However, I don’t think that you can make a lot of money with AdSense. As I said, I know how much they charge the advertisers and how much they pay the bloggers. There’s a lot in between that goes in their pockets. 🙂

    1. Joanna,

      The more I think about it, the more I remember how there are Russian hackers wreaking havoc on Google Analytics. Anyway, to avoid the filters, they did not use offensive language in the text. Instead, the ‘catchy’ ad in the Filipino language is an image. I did not bother to report it though.

      On an older blog, back when Google was paying a tad bit more, the money I earned from a site that receives 600 to 1000 unique visitors a day does not interest me at all. In other words, I confirm your observation on not making a lot of money unless the traffic is massive.

      I still have unused funds on AdWords. I agree that they are earning a lot judging by the cost of advertising versus the compensation of publishers. Using the last campaign that I did and the last time I used AdSense as a reference, I can say that there is a 1,600% difference. Other people would have different figures as AdWords does not have a fixed cost.

  10. I guess the responsibility about the ads should come from both parties. As publishers, we should configure our AdSense and make them user-friendly. AdSense is giving us the authority to either allow or block ads on our sites. We can block ads by categories and prevent unwanted ads from showing up on the other side. Those adult ads would not show up in the first place if the user had not searched for something related to it. At least, that’s what I learned from an article I read before. I believe it’s true like when I searched for Weight Loss, I started seeing ads about them everywhere I go. The same thing went when I searched for articles on depression.

  11. I have a Greek site, and lately (2017 until now) I have encountered many pornographic AdSense ads! Not image ads, but text ads! I still have them in the “blocked” section as a proof.

    Some of them were saying (in Greek and without the asterisks): “I f*** my wife for 4 hours”, “hardcore s*x for 2 hours non-stop”, etc.

    It’s literally unbelievable that such ads pass through Google’s system. It’s tragic.

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