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This 139 message thread spans 5 pages: < < 139 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 > >     
Google Shuts Down $Million Affiliate Account
No humans involved in the decision
SuperF




msg:4020051
 1:04 am on Nov 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is how Google is currently treating some Adwords customers, and has destroyed our business (amongst many, many others) and the livelihood of many people:

1. Has a long-running policy of causing high click costs when customers promote sites with poor landing page quality - otherwise known as a the Google Slap.

2. Adds to this policy by deciding that the promotion of poor landing page quality sites is sufficient to terminate accounts without warning. The landing page quality is determined by "the AdWords system" using secret "specific filtration methods". No humans required.

3. Many accounts are shut down without warning, without any notification anywhere of this new policy. Typically affiliate marketers are those affected.

4. Many more accounts received a final warning, and then subsequently were shut down.

The chief complaint I think everyone has is that the process is automated, and there is no way to seek recourse, no matter how large you account is. Almost as bad is that system is unfairly biased towards super affiliates. A raw number of poor quality violations is used, irrespective of the size of an account. AdwordsAdvisor, correct me if I am wrong...

Our experience went like this:

1. First we ever knew about the policy was receiving a final warning.
2. We promote thousands of merchants - so it took about a week to remove every ad group that even has a remote chance of breaking landing page quidelines.
3. We ceased creating new ads or ad groups, so that we could not possibly lose our account.
4. One month later, after 12 hours of wondering why none of our ads are showing, we get the automated email saying our account is disabled.

Despite our very best efforts to do everything possible to please Google, it was all in vain. If we have caused bad user experiences in the past, it was minor (relative to thousands of merchants we promote), unintentional, and immediately rectified upon finding out about the new policy.

Our background:
Multiple millions spent on Google Adwords
Exclusive deals with many major online merchants
We don't even have landing pages - we direct link to merchants.

Please, no replies bashing Google in general. I just wish to discuss this specific policy, and I'm hoping AWA can pass on that the current process is faulty and needs addressing by Google.

 

Mister Bogdan




msg:4021137
 2:02 am on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Therefore, no ground can be found to accuse Google for any wrong-doing for the sole purpose of making profit.

I hope you will comment here when your google adwords account become disabled: )

Hope to hear your thoughts then!

smallcompany




msg:4021138
 2:15 am on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Therefore, no ground can be found to accuse Google for any wrong-doing for the sole purpose of making profit.

I hope you will comment here when your google adwords account become disabled: )

Hope to hear your thoughts then!

That statement was not my thought supporting the idea of Google being right.
It was my belief about how Google "backs" all what it does - something that made me claim that Google was an animal without head or tail - you can find this in my long ago posts.
Therefore, you got it wrong.

About your generous thoughts, please refrain from such. They don't contribute to anyone or anything, but hurt only, including this forum.

thecloser




msg:4021148
 3:05 am on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Everyone needs a reality check on what constitutes a "big" adwords account. $1m a year is NOTHING compared to big accounts. PLEASE realize that there are brand advertisers and agencies spending hundreds of millions a year as we speak. I spend over $2m a year and trust me, there is no "red phone to mountain view."

I'm feeling everyone's pain here too and waiting for my turn, but some perspective is essential. The reps at AW must audibly chuckle when they hear about these "big million -dollar accounts" feeling the shaft.

Green_Grass




msg:4021246
 4:05 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

what I conclude from all these stories is that only the multi multi Million dollar accounts and the small.smaller..smallest accounts are safe. The 'big' ones are safe on account of their money power..and the small ones because by their very nature they may not have many strikes against their name (assuming the account is white hat). The 'medium' ones ( with a few lowly single digit million spend) handling multiple accounts / clients are scw*d one way or another..

What a way to 'understand' Google policy. My conclusions only...YMMV

francie brady




msg:4021268
 5:18 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Been there - Done that - Google AdWords 'was' interesting and profitable for me. But things just got weirder and weirder and I left after deciding that I'd had enough of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars AND trying to keep up with AdWord's hugely time intensive game. I am learning to focus on SEO and wished I'd done that years ago.

I understand many of the 'get relevant' concerns AdWords has, and I had no qualms about changing things so that they could keep out the 1 page wonders and other crap - that helped me too. But the way in which they treat their customers is ridiculous. 'Support' was a joke. I foresee AdWords having only large managed accounts in the future, which is probably what they want anyway.

good riddance ADWords

willybfriendly




msg:4021276
 5:51 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

I foresee AdWords having only large managed accounts in the future, which is probably what they want anyway.

I am not an adwords user, but this statement makes a lot of sense. The overhead costs would drop to a fraction. Create a new tier of huge middlemen that take care of keeping things "clean".

Kind of like tiered wholesale pricing, which is largely implemented to clean out the little guys. If 80% of the business is driven by 20% of the customers, then that is where one ought to be putting their attention.

Hmmmm...

Gomvents




msg:4021280
 6:09 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

AdWordsAdvisor, when will you stop people from bidding on our trademarks and using our domain in their ads?

ipohopper




msg:4021300
 7:07 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've spent over $2million on adwords over past 4 years and had the same thing happen. Didn't even get a warning. Just stopped receiving traffic. I had to contact support to find out my account was banned for submitting low quality sites multiple times. The usual resubmit the site every 8 months after the google slap.

My spend last year was $500K Google, $150K Yahoo, $50K MSN. I SERIOUSLY wish Google would finally get knocked down from the top spot to make the ppc field more level. Google is at the top so they can do whatever they want.

I think I'm gonna ship my Google Adwords fridge and all the other ridiculous gifts they have sent over the past years back to Googleplex.

I feel these gifts are of Low Quality and do not wish to accept them.

Willprospector




msg:4021311
 7:39 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Long ago,two years ago to be exact,I quit using AdWords and
AdSense and have an account with AdBrite and Bidvertiser and am very pleased. I may do some business with ArWords in the future but with reluctance. I think an anti-trust suit is in order because so heavily dominate this sector.

DefconCav




msg:4021315
 7:58 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hearing all this BS with google and getting back into ppc makes me think I should stay away from them, I hear nothing but negative comments in various other forums. Which basically says to me, we can take your money and then slam the door in your face, and you can't do nothing about it. Send an email and cross your fingers, FORGET IT! I'll take my money somewhere else.

SuperF




msg:4021320
 8:12 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)


Everyone needs a reality check on what constitutes a "big" adwords account. $1m a year is NOTHING compared to big accounts.

It all adds up. Just because GM sell 5000 cars to Avis, does that mean that shouldn't give customer support to Joe Blow? Should GM only sell cars to corporations? Should Apple only sell computers to schools?

Given that the system is automated, and most of what customers spend becomes profits, it is poor business logic on Google's part not having an employee manually look into accounts that have been suspended, if they have a certain threshold of spend. If it were me, $10K+ would be a good starting point.

Effectively Google are saying that, in what appears to be dozens upon dozens of cases (perhaps $100 million in future earnings), Google cannot afford to have a single employee spend a week or two looking into things. Any business that makes that type of decision has some serious operational problems.

I'm starting to wonder who runs Google these days, Sergey & Larry, or HAL 9000?

swa66




msg:4021322
 8:23 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

We don't even have landing pages - we direct link to merchants.

Might that not be the core of the problem ?

I've seen loads of advertisers who obviously do that, and I've yet to see one ad that I wanted to carry as a publisher, or wanted to see as a visitor of Google or any adsense site. I don't know your ads, not sure if you fall into that category, but it might well be a sign Google is finally cleaning up some of those.

Alternatively: what if you were running ads for merchants that Google had kicked out already in the past and now come back via you ?

As to being handled by size: make up your mind: either you want to be treated equally and fair (and then HAL9000 will do nice and fine) or either you don't mind the bigger fish get better treatment. You cannot have it both ways.

johnnie




msg:4021329
 8:41 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Isn't this class action suit material? I'm not in the adwords business, but from looking at things, I figure its time you guys get organized and wrap up a case.

<IANAL>

maximillianos




msg:4021331
 8:51 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think if there was a way to poll the hundreds of thousands of Adword users, you see a tiny fraction of a single percent have the problems you have experienced.

That does not qualify a class action. Particularly when many of the removed accounts were done so for a reason. And Google does not owe anyone an explaination of that reason. There are other ad serving companies out there.

ogletree




msg:4021333
 8:58 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you go to a large adwordes agency they have reps at Google that can help you a lot. I worked at a big agency that helped a client that had all his QS set from 7's to 0's. We created a new account and made the corrections that Google told us. They were able to make things happen.

awguy2




msg:4021335
 9:01 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have been advertising with Google for over 5 years.

When I first started back in 2004, I remember thinking to myself how GREAT Google's customer service was. They were EXTREMELY HELPFUL back then. In 2005, they even invited me to the GooglePlex in Mountain View, CA to tour their coporate headquartes and to meet with some of their higher-up executives. They even invited me to a party one summer night at the GooglePlex where they had free food and an open bar along with dancing and live music. Things were great back then. Google was way ahead of Yahoo and Microsoft as far as customer service was concerned. All of their polices made sense. Google Adwords was FUN! I loved Adwords!

Now days, things have definitely changed! I never thought I would be saying this, but I would far rather deal with Yahoo and Microsoft than I would Google. It is actually quite sad for me to see Google take this path. Google is becoming far more frustrating than either Microsoft or Yahoo have ever been. And Yahoo and Microsoft are becoming much more pleasant to work with, much like Google was like in the old days.

Microsoft is a bigger corporation than even Google. However, when you talk to their customer support reps, they actually talk to you like you are a human. They give you SPECIFIC answers and recommendations. Has anyone noticed that when you call Google for a specific answer, they tell you something like: "I can understand your frustration, but please review our policies".

It is one thing for Google to ban you for life if you are actually doing something that is bad. But banning good advertisers who just can't understand Google's complicated landing page quality score formula is just plain ridiculous.

[edited by: awguy2 at 9:56 pm (utc) on Nov. 8, 2009]

maximillianos




msg:4021337
 9:17 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would guess the reason behind much of G's short answer responses is due to the fact that they are the most targeted system for abuse on the web.

From spammers trying to rank to arbitrators looking to flip a few pennies per trade... Google can't give you all the answers you may want, and deserve. They are in an non-stop growing battle for their livelihood... and to keep their service as respectable and legitimate as possible.

As an owner of a large forum myself, I can completely understand the approach of not giving too much information out about how some policies work. We have a number of polices in place that we don't publish. If we did, spammers would find ways around them faster than we could blink.

My point is, I'm sure a lot of innocent folks get caught up in the net, but Google stops more bad folks than good. And if you are persistent (and doing nothing wrong), I think they will listen and do the right thing to help those accounts wrongly terminated.

johnnie




msg:4021344
 9:49 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

And Google does not owe anyone an explaination of that reason. There are other ad serving companies out there.
Google owns such a large share of the market, they've almost grown to the point of being a utility. At such a large marketshare, they surely must have some form of liability towards their clients?
Mister Bogdan




msg:4021346
 9:54 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

My point is, I'm sure a lot of innocent folks get caught up in the net, but Google stops more bad folks than good. And if you are persistent (and doing nothing wrong), I think they will listen and do the right thing to help those accounts wrongly terminated.

That is the problem, they do not listen. I called them and guy told me, I will review your account in one hour and reply to you soon. But no answer for several days.

I asked something via email then, but received automated reply like:

"As mentioned in our previous email, your Google AdWords account has been suspended due to multiple Landing Page and Site Quality disapprovals. We are unable to revoke your account suspension, and we will not accept advertisements from you in the future.

Please note that our support team is unable to help you with this issue, and we ask that you do not contact them about this matter. If you need more information about our content policy guidelines, please visit https://adwords.google.com/select/contentpolicy.html.

As noted in our Terms and Conditions, Google reserves the right to terminate advertisements for any reason. To view our Terms and Conditions, please visit https://adwords.google.com/select/tsandcsfinder.

We appreciate your cooperation."

Then I replied with specific question and again received same email: ))))) No difference in email, so this is a really automated system and nobody read emails from customers which have accounts disabled... Funny, for such big company....

londrum




msg:4021352
 10:06 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

My point is, I'm sure a lot of innocent folks get caught up in the net, but Google stops more bad folks than good.

that's a lousy excuse. that's a bit like the coppers locking up all the skinheads on the assumption that they'll get more bad than good.

poor old harry hill and duncan goodhew will be insisting that they've done nothing wrong but the coppers won't care. they'll just chuck them in the back of the van with all the other low-lifes.

Dlocks




msg:4021369
 11:02 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Alternatively: what if you were running ads for merchants that Google had kicked out already in the past and now come back via you ?
How hard would it be for Google to block a domain for all accounts?

About a year ago I submitted an ad with a direct link to merchant. They told me I could not promote that product and website because the product itself was forbidden by the guidelines. Guess what? In the past year till now I see that website (and other websites promoting the same product) is still promoted via Adwords by other affiliates.

profo




msg:4021395
 11:54 pm on Nov 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Alternatively: what if you were running ads for merchants that Google had kicked out already in the past and now come back via you ?
How hard would it be for Google to block a domain for all accounts?

Blocking the domain might be harder than one believes. I think swa66 has a point here. I've seen scammers in Germany working like this:

Initially the scammers set up ads for free stuff, e.g. adobe reader. Their landing pages suggest a free download, when in fact in fine print they try to sell worthless yet expensive abonnements. Sooner or later Google finds out (often by press coverage) and burns these domains. Which is exactly the procedure Dlocks suggests.

But then all of a sudden the same ads for the same junk pop up again. This time they are set up by affiliates of these scammers. The affiliates create their own landing pages, which eventually redirect to the scam sites, and are eventually burned by Google as well. So the scammers workaround for burning a domain seems to be to burn their own affiliates.

I think what is happening might be exactly what swa66 says: an affiliate advertising for "shady" merchants being punished by google. And the problem in this case is: how to know which merchants are shady?

frontpage




msg:4021400
 12:17 am on Nov 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google does not care about the 'millions' you spent on advertising.

The Google execs burn hundred dollar bills to light their cigars. You are still a little fish in their eyes. Google uses NASA to park their Boeing 767 exec jet for example.

I don't even see Google Adsense ads anymore at my corporation as we block they via HOSTS files.

callivert




msg:4021404
 12:23 am on Nov 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

reps at AW must audibly chuckle when they hear about these "big million -dollar accounts" feeling the shaft.

If they really do chuckle about that - and I sincerely hope you're wrong - then they have lost all sense of perspective.

moTi




msg:4021421
 1:00 am on Nov 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

We don't even have landing pages - we direct link to merchants.

adwords affiliate business is doomed. one only has to wonder why goog doesn't set a clear and honest signal to get rid of most of the affiliate crowd at once and flatly forbid automatic redirect in all cases. this practice is an open invitation for all kinds of abuse and we all know that.

but to add some more fuel to the fire: isn't it amazing that a company treats every customer equal if he is unwanted for the business, no matter how much money he is generating? no exceptions for folks who think they deserve a special treatment for whatever reason. strong short term financial temptations sacrificed for calculated long term quality.
keep the system clean no matter what - because they can. somehow you gotta admire this approach.

walkman




msg:4021437
 2:07 am on Nov 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

" Everyone needs a reality check on what constitutes a "big" adwords account. $1m a year is NOTHING compared to big accounts."

$1 Million here and a million there...

SuperF




msg:4021441
 2:17 am on Nov 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

How hard would it be for Google to block a domain for all accounts?

Here's a scenario:

1. Out of nowhere comes a site that has the whole world enthralled, and they have an affiliate program. Everyone you ask would say it is a quality site.

2. An affiliate starts promoting the site, direct linking.

3. Google's system decides that the site has a low landing page quality score (perhaps because the site has a link to their "policy of privacy" rather than a "privacy policy").

4. Google gives a final warning then shuts down the affiliate account. Despite repeated emails, the affiliate could never discover which site they promote was the problem.

5. A new affiliate starts to promote the site

6. Go to 3.

There are numerous ways of fixing the problem. One would be for Google to tell you which ad/site is causing the problem, and why. Another would be to just ban sites. But that would give spammers an advantage. By being vague, it's harder work for spammers to beat Google.

This is a war against spammers, and many good customers are collateral damage. But that's OK because they understand our frustration.

bryson




msg:4021453
 3:22 am on Nov 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

SuperF: they could just silently assign the site in question ultra-low landing page quality such that no matter how high one's bids, no ad pointing to that site would ever show. Effectively same thing as a site ban, but no need to state the reason for it. And no need to ban any affiliate's AdWords accounts to do this.

[edited by: bryson at 3:29 am (utc) on Nov. 9, 2009]

Edge




msg:4021454
 3:22 am on Nov 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Everyone needs a reality check on what constitutes a "big" adwords account. $1m a year is NOTHING compared to big accounts. PLEASE realize that there are brand advertisers and agencies spending hundreds of millions a year as we speak. I spend over $2m a year and trust me, there is no "red phone to mountain view."

There you have it, when a company becomes so big and revenues so great that million dollar customer is treated as a commodity.

I smell a company that doesn't know how good they have it..

benflux




msg:4021463
 4:15 am on Nov 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Have the accounts closed so far been individual accounts or MCCs containing 1 or more offending accounts?

bryson




msg:4021472
 4:26 am on Nov 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

adwords affiliate business is doomed. one only has to wonder why goog doesn't set a clear and honest signal to get rid of most of the affiliate crowd at once and flatly forbid automatic redirect in all cases. this practice is an open invitation for all kinds of abuse and we all know that.

That makes less than zero sense. There's nothing wrong with direct linking (what you're calling automatic redirecting) to a high quality website, whether it's done via an affiliate link or otherwise. Abuse occurs when ads instead link to low quality intermediate bridge pages or low quality merchant websites.

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