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For most advertisers this would be a rare problem. But for affiliate marketers it is rife. Google's rules are:
We'll only display one ad per search query for advertisers sharing the same top-level domain in the display URL. This means that if you're an affiliate advertiser, your ad may not show for a query because another affiliate or the website that runs the affiliate program also has ads using the same (or a similar) domain in the display URL.
Display URL must be accurate.
* Your display URL must accurately reflect the URL of the website you're advertising. It should match the domain of your landing page so that users will know which site they'll be taken to when they click on your ad.
Lately I've noticed as many as 5 invalid Display URLs for one search term - all of which lead to the same page on the merchant's site. Typically the affiliate using the correct Display URL is in #1, with the others below.
The end result is:
1) The affiliate using the correct Display URL is paying more than what they should
2) Google is making more money
3) The merchant's brand name is looking spammy
4) Searchers waste time clicking on ads that all lead to the same page
Until a few months ago, Google took action when I reported an Invalid Display URL to them. Now they say "no need to contact us, it will be caught when we review the ad".
Either they are taking weeks or months to review ads, or they aren't checking Display URLs any more.
These rules have been in place since 2005. Everyone was forced to agree to new terms and conditions when they changed the "one ad per search query for advertisers sharing the same top-level domain in the display URL" rule and lately Google's lack of care is literally costing me hundreds of dollars each week. With Google having a market cap of $213B is it necessary to cheat hard workers like myself who follow the rules?
No word can describe how we feel about wrong display URLs.
Let me repeat myself (from some of my earlier posts):
Not just that they go through with invalid display URL, but in many cases, they get better QS. An affiliate that is 100% in line with the rules, suffers bad QS, while an offender gets "great" with minimum bid of 2 cents. That is double wrong!
This idea has just been implemented for reporting malware sites:
It surely wouldn't be difficult to compare reported ads with those that have been through the review process - I'm guessing all the "9X2AdTC6haQ7UkIABABaoBHUdHR0xiK0dHvJHIZKPGUS" in an ad link is a unique identifier of sorts.
That way Google could use people power to clean up ads in the same way they are using people power to clean up SERPs.
But then again that might advertise a flaw in the review process?
Perhaps Google could provide a form for reporting naughty ads?
In the meantime, the fraudulent ads can completely kill the impression count and/or CPC and/or CTR and most definitely the ROI of legitimate advertisers. Some businesses that rely on AdWords are severely crippled one-third of the time.
One would think that a company that makes billions of dollars could afford to have a handful of customer support staff available 24x7. Or better yet, they should get just fix the programming in the AdWords engine so it catches these problems when ads are created.
[edited by: Rehan at 1:31 am (utc) on Dec. 10, 2007]
Or better yet, they should get just fix the programming in the AdWords engine so it catches these problems when ads are created.
That is what I have a cannot understand. Even today, after so many years, it seems you can put whatever you want in url destination on a keyword level.
Few days ago, I was testing some tracking tool through ad with keyword that would never be typed by a real user. At some point I changed destination URL, but not the display URL (in ad text). A day or so later, I got disapproval.
So, Viva Google! it worked, and I was happy for it.
Still, I see that folks that do it intentionally, almost always do it on keyword level which seems to be working for them, very well.
Out from this, we end up spending time in figuring why we suddenly pay more than on previous days, and spend hours on chasing those, reporting them, and then going through frustration of waiting for results.
What I have been doing, though, is passing these threads along to the right teams - and I see quite a lot of attention being paid to them.
While it is good to hear they are paying attention to them, hopefully they are taking actions to reduce or eliminate the problem. If you have not already, indstead of passing along the endless number of incidents where this is occuring, why not pass along a permanent solution to the team such as simply verifying the display domain matches the final destination domain during the ad submission process. Viola problem solved, well meaning customers happy, customers trying to cheat your system stopped, Google support staff releived of having to unecessarily review ads that are supposed to be not allowed in the first place.
Incidentally, the advertiser who runs these ads posted in another forum that he used to play by the rules until he got fed up. In his own words:
"To start, I once was a compliant advertiser, however, after seeing my competitors violating the rules constantly, I had a choice to make, either find a way to compete and dominate them, or quit."
As you can tell, he didn't just quit.
Anyhow, as I could remember, he decided to test how many times he would be able to submit an ad with invalid display URL before he would get contacted “personally” or get account terminated.
It took around 20 times before he got nailed.
No warranty on this post as it is as my memory could serve. I do remember that post looked honest and not as imagination only.
What I've observed over the last few weeks is that enforcement of display URL violations has been even worse than it was in Q4 2007. Hopefully the new policy changes are not all talk.
Am I that bad a programmer or is there some overwhelming thing I am failing to see?
I reported this search to Adwords support. They said they would look into it. So I asked a week later, and guess what. It's ok , it's allowed!
I've reported ads like these, dozens of times over the last couple of years. Each time Google responded and removed the faulty ads within a day. But for the last few months this has not worked, as many of you have seen. Display-url can be www.what-ever-i-come-up-with.com.
So go on! If it's alright to have 2 ads, why not have 11 ads leading to the same company on the same result page? Monopolize the search results!
I suspect that some automated checking tool was meant to be ready last year, and they stop doing it manually before the tool was ready...
This last time when I called I interrupted the young lady on the other side of the phone and told her I could “sing” all those sentences they tell me every time.
She stopped and stayed silent.
I think those front row folks are under great pressure between clients and those that are responsible for invalidities appearing in the system.
In addition, those at the back row seem to be ignoring our submissions like they are expecting the system to take care of it.
Ad with invalid display URL should not be approved if it goes through manual process, period. I simply cannot believe that live human being can do that, except for the small percentage where we can count on “human error”.
It is just that I cannot figure how reported ad can survive two or more weeks. They say “it was maybe submitted again and coming from different advertiser”. No way - I copy destination URL and see it is the same all the time.
It is so hard to understand why all that is as it is.
What if CSRs get qualified so they can take action against reported ads?
Then you could specify in the control panel how you want them to display such as www.widgets.com or widgets.com or widgets.com/ or whatever pattern you want or even allow you to use KeWoRD type pattern regexes to change the case like you can with pattern matching keywords and stuff.