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AdWords won't run my ad

my ads are disapproved but my competition's isn't



6:53 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Late last week, I took over my firms AdWords campaigns, tuned up the keywords a little bit, and added a dozen or so highly targeted search terms, mainly as an experiment. As a result all of my ads were disapproved. The reason they were disapproved is that "Google doesn't permit the use of the word
"tobacco" to be on the "landing page" of the site the ad links to. OK, small deal, change that category (to smoking products). That got disapproved and this time the reason was "Google policy does not permit the advertisement of "drug paraphernelia" on our website" Undoubtedly, some of the pipes etc. that our customers list with our site could be used as drug paraphernelia, but they're legal products sold in a legal manner, yada, yada. So I wrote back and questioned this.

This time I got a personalized response that explained that they would be happy to let our ads run but I had to remove the words "smoking" and now "knives" from the landing page, and "remove the ability to search your sites for those listings"

Well, this is ridiculous. Who's the biggest AdWords customer? My guess is Ebay. Think you can buy a bong or a knife on Ebay (or in Amazon's zshops?)? Well, you can. It's even more ridiculous when you consider that the Google Directory lists some of my sellers in both their Recreation/Tobacco category and their Recreation/Knives category. Even More ridiculous is the fact that websites we identify as direct competitors, already have ads running in the same keyword range and they list both Knives and Smoking and Tobacco on their "landing page" right now. My guess is that they haven't modified their ads since this policy change--I know it's a policy change because one of these campaigns ran without a hitch previous to my keyword refinement.

sorry for the length of this post but I'm curious if anyone else has run into these sort of problems. I get really worried when a marketing force as powerful as Google singles anyone out this way. I don't believe I can effectively compete for new business without Google, and reading these forums tells me that most of this audience feels the same way. All advice appreciated.


7:50 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I would certainly make that argument to google...for all its worth...


8:23 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

My advice; Have your site optimized for good rankings on your keywords - Then give your advertising money to some other company.

The folks at Google have decide to make the web a better place (according to them-god help us all), matters not if what your selling is legal or not - matters if Google donít like it.


8:58 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I hear you lots0, but a company as important to the internet marketplace as Google can't just decide to start enforcing rules like this for some people and not for others. Lawyers call that "restraint of trade"


9:02 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Oh come on Goggle can do what ever they want it is their search engine (site) they can list who ever they want or not.


9:25 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well, you could be not so nice to your competitors and rat them out to Google. :) Google doesn't check all ads so they might not even know your comp. is breaking the rules.

I have one ad that I swear the comp. keeps an eagle's eye on me and goes running to Mamma Google as soon as I even toe the line.


9:29 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Lawyers call that "restraint of trade"

Funny but Google is already being sued for this same thing.


9:36 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Just did a search for tobacco and tobacco products.
NO adwords were showing, seems pretty consistant to me.


9:45 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

that's correct, glengara, but I wasn't trying to buy that keyword, I was trying to buy entirely unrelated keywords that reflect some of the other products our customers sell. Google is disapproving my ads because the word "tobacco" (or whatever else they find objectionable) appears on the page.


10:11 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

No adwords for guns, handguns, knives, KKK, IRA and no doubt loads more 'legal' stuff.
IMO, Google are perfectly entitled not to promote or advertise anything they, or society at large find objectionable.
All these subjects are well covered in the results, for which, unlike adwords, they bear no direct responsibility.


10:12 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't like google adwords... I know some people are having success but personally I don't think it works well and it makes the advertiser jump through too many hoops...even though i understand the spam issues.


2:08 pm on Dec 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

sure they are glengara, but I'm afraid you're missing the point. I'm not trying to advertise on search terms like that, I'm tryng to advertise on normal keywords that are important to my company's business objectives, normal things like "wholesale jewelry" for instance. What Google's doing is disapproving my ads because the terms they object to are on the landing page, at the same time the competition's ads are running and they list the same objectionable words on their landing page. How is that fair?


5:05 pm on Dec 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

What you may find (just a theory) is that in instances where ads are approved for things that break the rules they sort of grandfather them until you go to change something and then they reject it. This is only in instances where the goalposts move and as we all know the search engine goal posts have wheels on them..... over here..... no wait it's over there now...

What you might also find is that this may well be to do with the syndicated partners and their insistence on Google satisfying more stringent standards rather than Google's doing. Have you tried running the ads with syndication turned off to see if you get any joy?

When there is always this threat of "will they renew with us" looming over them they can't just take a stance that they like, you can bet the hoop jumping for the AOL account for example would be phenomenal but based on the audience size you'd go through them right?


8:51 pm on Dec 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Get this - I have been banned for advertising a "cream liqueur". Dozens of wine companies use adwords, but for some reason my client's product (nicely packaged as a romantic gift with candles and liqueur glasses) was deemed inappropriate.

I questioned them but they decided to uphold their guidlines. I annoyed as I set this up as a favour to a client to boost their sales before Christmas. Now that plan has gone down the gurgler...


11:31 pm on Dec 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

These don't sound like insurmountable problems to me.

Sure it's annoying that Google has some inflexible rules about certain banned items. If you're trying to hawk jewelry and you have knives anywhere on your landing page, it's against their rules, unfortunately. Knives of any type are banned. Just so you know, they also don't like Ninja throwing stars. :)

It is probably not too big a stretch to suggest that a few of these banned items come straight from the personal philosophies of Google's founders. I'm sure their lawyers have also weighed in and advised them to be careful on some types of products - perhaps an excess of caution, but that's the advertising business.

The solution is really quite simple, though. Change your landing page. Problem solved. You can say "but I still don't think it's fair..." and write 50 more posts on it, but some of this stuff just isn't likely to change.

As for the cream liqueur case, I have trouble believing that this is an insurmountable problem. Google have been known to make mistakes and their overworked editorial staff may not be able to respond as quickly as they should, but consider where we were 10 short months ago (there was no such thing as pay-per-click advertising on Google). Without seeing your case it's tough to comment, but again, Google is not in the business of turning away legitimate business - just enforcing a series of rules presumably for the benefit of all advertisers. Most of the rules make sense. Some benefit Google more than they benefit us. Some of the rules are flexible. Some aren't. By all means appeal or ask for a clarification - politely and coherently - and I doubt you'll have a problem advertising cream liqueurs.


11:49 pm on Dec 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I was very polite and reasonable. No luck with this case.

They did very kindly reverse another decision on the use of superlatives that I questioned.

You win some, you lose some.


3:54 pm on Dec 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

andrewg, in essence we agree. I think Google is allowed to make content decisions about their site. However, I know they can't decide one thing for me and a different thing for my competitors. Also, since I'll bet I'm not the only one that differs with Google about what content is legit, I think it's quite appropriate to spread the word about what's happening and find out what other people know about it. Google frightens me plain and simple, they seem to be widely viewed as a beneficial resource--and they have served that function for me, but they also have Tremendous influence and power over the flow of information (does anyone dispute that statement?). They should be monitored and I can't think of a better place than here.

ps: i'm not going to change my landing page because Google says so. AdWords isn't such a vital tool that I can't compensate with other means.

Does anyone know if the same terms that AdWords finds objectionable penalize me in search results on Google. I realize that search and adwords are handled separately, but I'm curious if the appearance of "objectionable" words will negatively influence my ranking for searches on "non-objectionable" keywords?


6:00 am on Dec 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There are tobacco products advertised on ad words. "humidors"
I guess? they could be used for something else.:)


12:03 pm on Dec 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

regarding landing page:

What if I run a bidsite and all of a sudden a rare knife from King Arthur showed up and the bidding gets exciting and it's running for weeks as number 1 or best buy.

Will Google ban me for that? Where do we position ourself here? If webmasters should be 100% round the clock watching the website and adjusting the AdWords accordingly he will not have anything better to do! What a waste of company resource.

Should we hire somebody who will only be responsible for AdWords and call him AdWords Technical Engineer or "A Clerk" where "A" has a special meaning.

I'm so confused about this program... *REALLY*


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