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Refresh the search and the #3 ad has disappeared.
Either Google is doing some testing that breaks their own rules, or there is a glitch that needs fixing.
I think there are numerous circumstances where multiple sponsored ads from one url could be useful to searchers.
Lets say someone searches for "ipods". At the time I did this search, the top ten sponsored listings included 4 price comparison engines. Ads from circuit city, best buy and ubid. And 3 ads from places promoting various "free ipod" offers. The "free offer" sites are all dubious in my opinion. I am guessing that the ads on that page collectively are of minimal value to the searcher.
Now alternatively lets say that Apple wanted to buy 5 different ads. One taking you directly a page to buy iPod players. One taking you to a place to download iTunes software. One taking you to a place to order itune songs. One taking you to a page to buy iPod accessories. One taking you to a page to sign up for an email keeping you up to date on the latest product releases.
My guess is that that those 5 ads collectively would be more interesting to the searcher than the stuff that is there now.
To my way of thinking the market place should be able to decide if the hypothetical 5-ad-block plus 5 other ads is more interesting to searchers than the 10 distinct, but maybe less relevent, url's. If my hypothetical example leads to a higher cumulative CTR, it seems to me that means it is more interesting or relevent to more searchers. If the CTR is lower then the ads would drift down and off the page. Google should let the searchers decide via CTR which ads are the most relevent, rather than an arbitrary rule of one ad per url.
Google runs lots of ads for advertisers that are of questionable legitimacy. This is true in at least the consumer electronics field. Do a search for any popular high end camera. Look at the advertisers (particularly ones with too good to be true prices), then research those sites on retailer review sites to see what I mean.
Personally if I was a searcher who searched for a general phrase like "digital slr camera", I would rather see 5 results for 5 different brands/models of digital cameras from a single legitimate electronics retailer than seeing 5 ads from places that turn out to be scammers. If I ordered from one of those places and got burned, I would be very reluctant in the future to order from a Google advertiser whom I wasn't otherwise familar with. Since I don't ever expect to be a famous brand, this issue concerns me a lot.
I personally think advertiser legitimacy is a much bigger issue for long term searcher happiness, than url redundancy is or would be.
1. A glitch in the AdWords system (which is admittedly happening quite a bit now).
2. When a domain has special approval to show upto 3 ads at a time (this is usually based around the landing pages being independent from each other).
eWhisper I did not know about the special approval concept. Very interesting. Is that disclosed in the FAQ's or TOS somewhere, or a concept that is made known to advertisers on a need to know basis.
deep_alley, My post was kind of rambling. But one of my main points is that relevency is in the eye of the searcher. If the ads get high enough click through rates, then by my definition, the ads are relevent. If they get low ctrs' they will fall off the page. So it wouldn't be just a matter of spending money. You would still have to remain relevent.
Now alternatively lets say that Apple wanted to buy 5 different ads.... My guess is that that those 5 ads collectively would be more interesting to the searcher than the stuff that is there now.
Sounds scary to me. Regulating display/destination URLs may not be the best solution (especially when not enforced), but it is scalable. The scenario described above - isn't.
Having said that, Adwords is Googles toy, they are entitled to play with it however they want. They are even entitled to have different rules for different advertisers if they want.
As long as they honestly disclose the rules and exceptions to the rules so people are not misled, I won't have a beef.
In my example if apple wants to run thirty ads related to iPods and they all get better click through rates than any other ad, then they get the top 30 positions. Not a complicated concept and totally scalable.
If a searcher has to scroll past multiple pages of ads from one advertiser, who do you think will get the best CTR?
You as an individual searcher may hate the 30 Apple sponsored ads listings, but if other searchers disagree with you based on CTR, then I think Google and its searchers are best served to rely on the collective wisdom of thousands and thousands of independent searchers, not the arbitrary decision of an editorial team designing an algorithm.
Shopping comparison sites are ranked where they are based in large part on searcher interest, i.e. CTR, despite your deeming them of minimal value. The other half of the equation is their budget which may compensate for lesser CTRs - which you seem to be arguing against, but by allowing large advertisers to use their financial clout to corner the market, you're going to get inundated by exactly what you're complaining about. Wisdom will not inspire a searcher to scroll to page 4 for a different perspective. If they're at all wise, they'll simply look elsewhere.
UPDATE: My Adwords rep says they have not changed their policy, so I have supplied her with some screenshots to show the Google tech folk.
My guess is that they will conveniently neglect to reply...
Why should they reply Robert? You could have been playing with PhotoShop afterward ;)
I have hard questions going back over 2 years that I never gotten answers for. I've stopped waiting.
Now in a few cases, I use the same keywords in more than one adgroup, which is within adwords policy. However, adwords now displays each of the ads for the same search, though on different pages.
This never used to happen and it is neither desired nor intended behaviour on my part.
I think we'd just better get used to it and adjust.
I supplied support with a couple of screenshots, so I'm waiting for a useful answer.
I agree that if this is a policy change, that they will clearly tell us the new rules. But I hope that it's a bug that they will correct soon. I like the rule that only on domain is allowed per search.