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Double Serving Policy Not Enforced

Google ecouraging spam? Double serving policy too easy to trick.



3:50 pm on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Our competitor is showing in four ad spots simultaneously. All destination URLs point to the same domain. All display URLs are unique. We've reported this to Google three times over the past six months and nothing has been done.

Examples of display URLs:

From the source code, it appears that these people are not redirecting. The resolved destination is obvious. Why can't Google detect and stop this obvious spam?

Since Google hasn't enforced the policy it's getting more rampant and by not enforcing their policies they are encouraging more people to spam the results. Each time we report the problem, we get the same generic reply that makes it obvious that Google doesn't care.


4:52 pm on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

One of the AWA's here told me back in May that the policy team was taking a look at this issue. I guess they decided it was okay, because I still see the problem just as you have stated.


6:28 pm on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes, they don't seem to care, which makes me wonder if we need to do it too?

I'm going to start blogging to tell everyone of the vulnerability so Google takes these violations as the serious issues they should.

If thousands of people start doing it, including the old ebay spammers, maybe Google's users will start complaining enough to care. For now, they are making more money by allowing double serving so they are incented not to care.


8:18 pm on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The mismatched display and destination domains are not permitted but under certain conditions double serving is apparently allowed. I reported to my account manager someone doing it with two ads and was told because they were different domains, different web sites, the sites had different layouts and although the products were about the same subject one was selling a service (membership type site) and the other was selling a product (DVDs) it was permitted even if it was the same advertiser and I could create another account and do the same if I wanted to. In your case though double serving should not be allowed as they all go to the same site not to mention they have mismatched display and destination domains.

[edited by: Kobayashi at 8:28 pm (utc) on Oct. 25, 2007]


3:47 pm on Oct 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Can anyone tell me how I notify the appropriate people at Google about these policy abuses?

I continue to get generic emails stating that their system takes time to recognize policy violations, but it has been six months and I'm losing faith that their system can understand the difference between mismatched display and destination URLs.

Who can I report these policy violations to other than standard Adwords support?


4:50 pm on Oct 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

see "Report" link bottom of page here...
see "Read" link bottom of same page as well...



1:44 am on Oct 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I usually use the Contact Us link from within AdWords, choose "Ad Approvals" as the category and then submit the violations individually that way. That usually gets the bad ads removed within a day.

But that is a band-aid solution and needs constant monitoring. It should be very straightforward for Google to add a function on the back end to automatically check compliance with the rule [adwords.google.com] that "Your display URL must accurately reflect the URL of the website you're advertising. It should match the domain of your landing page ... ".

Why they haven't yet eliminated this fraud yet beats me.


8:18 pm on Oct 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Do you have to report each keyword? I'm literally seeing hundreds and I suspect thousands of keywords where this applies. I notice that they are removing the ones I request, but do they apply the check to only a single ad or do they review the entire account? If they are not reviewing these people's accounts, they are really wasting everyone's time.

Thanks for your advice!


9:43 pm on Oct 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I assume they disapprove the ad, which affects all keywords for the ad. But I think they don't review the entire account. At this point, the issue hasn't affected me enough to take a deeper look at it to see exactly what happens.


7:48 am on Oct 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Glad to see people talk about this.

This should not happen at all, period. We have cases that are few months old. Few things to have on mind though:

- Google AdWords is really nice to such people from the perspective they let them do such "mistakes" many times (let's roughly say around 20 or so). This is based on the fact we see these offenders doing it again and again, and also on some post I came across where AdWorder actually did it on purpose in order to learn what does it take to get account terminated when breaking display URL rule (not double serving). It took a lot of ads disapproved because of invalid display URLs.
- Google AdWords brings such ads down when you report them. At the same time, it is very hard to track when they do it and if they do it at all in all cases. They seem to be understaffed for this particular task. Some may say they are slow as they earn more money with those ads being out there.
- In some cases some other ad will show up when first one gets disapproved.

In any case Google AdWords seems to be very soft here. Firstly about invalid display URLs.

From our perspective, problem #1 is the fact that we (with regular URLs) pay more because of such folks. Our bid price gets affected by their bids. If not true than position of our ads gets affected for sure. Our CTR goes down for sure, even if we are above.

If you add up a margin that we paid because of invalid display URLs within the last two years, how much money we talk about?

If you add up how much was our average price per click because our CTR went down as such ads were around, how much money we talk about (last two years again)?

Because of all this, we would expect Google AdWords to bring down such ads in 24-48 hours, period.

Finally coming across accounts being intentionally used for double serving, complemented by invalid display URL, what profile of that advertiser is? Why let them do anything once caught?


11:01 am on Oct 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Can anyone explain to me what the problem is? Going back to the OP, the advertiser has obviously paid enough for all top four spots.


5:55 pm on Oct 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Can anyone explain to me what the problem is?

Two policy violations, 100%:

Invalid display URLs
Ads served from multiple accounts – same entity

If this is OK, theoretically you could have 8 accounts, serve 8 ads on first page, all for yourself (your company). Absolute no sense and Google AdWords is the very first one that claims being against that as that is not good user experience.


5:15 pm on Oct 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

This is a big problem. I dont understand why is it so hard to make a dedicated department where advertisers could report violations too. We see many very bad ads that violate TOS all the time that almighty adwords bot seems to miss.


6:41 pm on Oct 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

As far as the mismatched domains, it seems they could automatically verify such during the ad submission process and reject those that don't match before the ad is even submitted.


3:58 am on Oct 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Few possible technical scenarios in direct relationship to this problem:

Case 1 – dishonest advertiser submits ad(s) that are in line with rules – 100%. Later (after approval), that advertiser changes destination URL on keyword level which seems to be either a bug of Google AdWords system which their developers cannot solve for who knows which reason, or it has been a bug which AdWords’ management likes a lot.

Case 2 – dishonest advertiser submits ad(s) with destination URL that is different than display URL and those ads keep running. Nobody knows how come they didn’t get disapproved. Display URL is working URL that may or may not belong to the advertiser.

Case 3 – dishonest advertiser does all from 2, but in this case display URL does not exist at all, if you copy/paste it into your browser, it gives an error page.

Case 4 – all as in 2 and 3, but if you copy/paste display URL, you get onto some kind of GoDaddy parked domain with syndicated ads that may or may not correlate to what the keyword and ad text is about. This would be something that Google really hates, per some articles and their own clues being given to us. Destination URL is not what display URL is but something different.

Case 5 – advertiser owns 3 different but similar domain names that point to the same site. They run three ads from three un-associated accounts, please pay attention to “UN-ASSOCIATED”. That means you can run those three ads at the same time on same query. These three accounts could be associated which would result in having one ad at the time, no matter about display URL.

From all the above, in order to keep business consistent with the policy, we would expect Google AdWords to do next, depending on the case that could be one of those, or two or more combined:

In case of invalid display URLs, no matter in which fashion an advertiser got such ads out into the space, these should be caught within up to 48 hours and shut down. Multiple offenders should get their account terminated, permanently.

In the case of multiple accounts where display URLs match destination URLs, for ads being run for same entity, there are two actions to be performed:

-accounts should get associated with each other
-those different display URLs should be treated as same

I am not sure how many of you know about this, but Google AdWords can treat different display URLs as same so one ad only will be shown at the time.

For example:

If google.com and googleworld.com are actually pointing to the same site, folks at AdWords can simply associate them and you will NEVER EVER see two ads with those two display URLs at the same time, no matter they are technically different URLs.


The only way to get this going, meaning, ping Google to pay more attention to this matter, is if each of us that does not like the current situation posts our thought into latest thread of Google AdWords Features I'd Like to See, right now a thread at [webmasterworld.com...]


3:06 pm on Oct 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

If it helps google's bottom line, they seem to look the other way. I noticed this for keywords that (previously) had very little competition. Now there are at least 4 identical sites all advertising with the same keywords. This causes higher bid prices and I bet google is excited about that!


1:30 am on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

It is very bad for business if your customers start thinking you are filling the gaps in such way – with invalid ads.

Now, without fixing it, why Google would expect us to think differently?

Go and post your thoughts in a form of “I would like” into that “wish thread” for Google AdWords.

There is no single reason why we would need to pay more because of invalid ads.

We are eligible for credit because Google has failed to bring those ads down in timely manner.


6:19 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It looks like Google finally did something about the issue? I looked only briefly, but I no longer see instances of the problem on google.co.uk, where it was most prevalent.

migriffin, have you noticed this on your end too?


7:55 am on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Time is the biggest problem. It would be great if we could look into these issues and note them down and pass onto Google.

Not to blame them but help.

There are many cases where you would say "they do nothing" while it is a combination of being busy, ads being submitted again, and ads from other advertiser showing simply because the previous was disapproved.

I think they (Google) have to MARK those they KNOW doing it on purpose, so many times. Punish them! Then they'll cry here and give the message out to others - not to do it.

Another thing that has already been metioned in this thread:

Don't just look into one ad or ad group based on the fact somebody reported it. Check thye whole account. If that is a big deal, do a random check. Once you disapprove ad(s) in question, pick 3 more ad groups from same or different campaign. If any of them is not good, that is a good signal it is worth to dive into that account.


3:13 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The problem still seems pervasive. They appear to removing some of the cases we are reporting, but it's inefficient as they are targeting each ad on a case by case basis. Using Google's Ad Preview Tool we are systematically testing and sending hundreds of violations to Google. We are getting back the standard template response saying quality is important, some ads run before being approved, they will look into it, and they will not let us know the action they took.

It seems keeping them busy with requests will get one of the Google reviewers to run to the engineers to fix it for good.


4:29 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It seems that double serving has spread to some of the keywords I watch. :(


8:54 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

It is about having Google AdWords system being capable of automatically comparing display and END destination URL, not just destination URL within the account as automated redirects are in place in many cases.

How hard is to do that today, technically …for Google? To grab display URL (root only) and than compare it against the root URL of landing page?

Is that really, really HARD? Brains?


6:17 am on Nov 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Okay, I did a bit more investigating and found that what smallcompany mentioned earlier:

I am not sure how many of you know about this, but Google AdWords can treat different display URLs as same so one ad only will be shown at the time.

is exactly what Google has done sometime in the last few days. So now domain.com, domain.co.uk, domain.ca, domain.co, etc. are all considered to be the same and only one ad for any of these domain variations will be shown. This hasn't been done for all domains, but for at the one major domain that I noticed.

AWA: If you're reading this thread, could you let us know how we can request other domain variations to be added to the list for this particular domain? I've seen some fraudulent ads using other variations that you haven't equated yet, so it would be good to know how we can make a request to the right folks at Google.

[edited by: Rehan at 6:18 am (utc) on Nov. 3, 2007]


9:10 pm on Nov 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

ShoeMoney's latest blog post shows another case of this, on a popular keyword. The advertiser is using multiple accounts and display URLs like www-domain.com, www--domain.com, www---domain.com, etc. And they all point to the same landing page.

I wonder if Google has ever compensated any legitimate advertisers because of this type of fraud that they allow on their system.


11:33 pm on Nov 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

How does an advertiser gets multiple accounts? I thought Google alows only one account per advertiser? Don't they check this? That would solve the problem right?


3:30 am on Nov 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Rehan: Thanks so much.

I don’t think the actual url is a problem to have it here:


Making this public in right manner and supporting it with examples is one of our rare choices to get wheels going and have those things fixed on the side of Google Adwords.

After posting this, I am going to make another two (separate) posts that are in direct relation to this problem that seems to be more than BIG.

Stay tuned…


How does an advertiser gets multiple accounts? I thought Google alows only one account per advertiser? Don't they check this? That would solve the problem right?

There is nothing wrong with having multiple accounts. One account is simply not enough for many of us.


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