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Competitor is showing two ads!

Double serving allowed if you spend a lot?

10:36 am on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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One of my main competitor is showing two ads on the British market. It was going on like this for a couple of weeks. It is a clear case of double serving since the site is the same lets say 'shoes' but the extension is different (shoes.com and shoes.co.uk).

At first the .co.uk was very generic (such as 'shoes.co.uk/sport') while the .com would link to the specific product (such as 'shoes.com/nike-runnig-shoes') but now they are getting more aggressiv so that both ads are very specific and linking to the same product.

I finally notified my Google rep but no answer so far.

Adding to that that their sister company is advertising there, too and that this sister company has branches advertising as well, the same company is showing up to 4 ads for one keyword!

It is as follow:

A owns BC and CD. Then CD owns CD2. It happens that for one keyword I see 2 ads of BC, one ad of CD and one ad of CD2.

How long will that go on?
2:09 pm on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I don't think that whatever decision Google makes that you will hear from them.

I've heard of something like this before and if I recall, they will treat shoes.com and shoes.co.uk as separate and consider it acceptable. Unless both can somehow be linked to the same person or company for example if the address is the same or the same credit card.
2:22 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It is the same company, the same content, the same design. The only difference is the extension.

And according to Google:

"Google doesn't permit multiple ads from the same or an affiliated company or person to appear on the same results page."

I really wonder how they will justify that!
3:19 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like a flaw on Google's end, not your competitor's. I think you're misinterpreting the use of the word "permit" in that sentence.
4:31 pm on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I would not say they are the same company, chances are they have two adwords accounts and two tax id numbers which at that point makes them separate companies.
9:44 am on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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One Adwords account allow only one domain name showing per searching, if they are showing the same website in the same, perhaps they have multiple account. Most paid search agency they have MCC account that can have sub-accounts.
6:02 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If you're in UK, I believe I know what companies you're referring to.

From Google's perspective, it is about figuring if ads are being run on behalf of the same entity or not.
I say entity because sometimes two companies may be treated as same entity.

Since they're different companies, using different sites (URLs), they should be quite clean at first glance which makes your situation tougher.

But... if Google is not happy with the same product being pushed through different sites (companies) while the end result is money going to the same body, that may be your chance, but it's going to be tough.

Tough because there is no transparency in what Google does once you submit your complaint.
Since you have a rep, you're in a bit better position to follow up and explain the situation.
Be aware that your rep may not be in any better position than yourself, when about AdWords' policy team.

Now, if I'm right about what companies you're referring to, you have a few cards to play on:

- Click on "About" link at the bottom of each site. It is obvious they're the same company. They state that there.
- Site layouts are the same - bad user experience
- Domain owner for each site is the same company
- IP address of each site seems to be the same

For domain owner use WHOIS service, for IP address simple ping from CMD will do it.

Once you gather concrete data, put everything into email, send it to your rep, and then jump onto the phone with her/him and talk about it to be sure she/he is clear in regards of what you're talking about.
I remember "teaching" reps about certain stuff.

Good luck! Down with monopolies!

I just entered "women shoes" in Google UK and saw five of their ads at the same time. Pure BS.
5:39 pm on Mar 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have a client who has a similar problem - but this time, the competitor has registered 3 totally different domains.

The competitor now dominates 3 out of the top 5 spaces on almost all PPC terms in our industry.

All domain names are different (as is the site look and feel), but registered to the same company, selling the *exact* same products. The design of each site is just different enough to fool most users, but a bit of sleuthing easily uncovers it all. There's even footer text that says "Customer Service and Fulfillment provided by (name of parent company)". As if it was an affiliate site - hah!

It's tragic and upsetting that Google is allowing such spam into their PPC results.

Screws over their users, for one, and it also screws over other honest businesses just trying to use their ad platform fairly, as it was meant to be used.

(And don't even get me started on the 100% copied, mirror domains this competitor is spamming the natural SERPs with.)
4:05 am on Mar 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Little update:

I informed my rep about the double serving issues last week and when I was checking this morning the company that was showing two ads with only the extension that changed is now showing only one ad. Lets see if it will keep going on.

However, the other company who uses a branch (or affiliate or simply another domain name) is still showing ads.

Still there is an improvement.

What are you doing against your competitors who don't follow the rules?

Is there a way to actually list them?
3:48 pm on Mar 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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We are also going to try to work with our AdWords Rep on this. Agreed: the more info you can provide to prove they are violating the guidelines, the better. In this case, they are even using the same navigation and URL structure. If you did a Xenu link sleuth of the two sites, the only thing that's really different is the core domain (all other URL paths/patterns/product names are identical). Crazy!

Our rep agreed said they will follow up with "policy specialists for an investigation".

FINGERS CROSSED they are able to get things fixed so this competitor shows just 1 ad. Will also keep everyone updated on our progress.
4:02 pm on Mar 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have 3 ads running at the same time on some terms with Google's permission. If you have distinctly different domains that each offer unique content and product offerings, you can do it. This changed about 6 months ago.

I was in disbeleif when I was told by my reps to get an MCC account. I am not a 3rd party vendor, I am an in-house guy.

The key is to have different products and different content. I also suspect it might have to do with the amount of money Google can make from this kind of thing.

Keep in mind its not cheap to do that because you have to create a new account for each domain and with no historical data your going to pay more, alot more CPC.
5:17 pm on Mar 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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300M -

Thanks much for the insights - it's invaluable to hear and understand from your point of view.

In our specific case, the only thing our competitor has changed on the domains is the branding. All products are 100% the same, even the site navigation has an identical category structure, etc. You can sell they took the exact same "bones" of the website, and just slapped a different look/feel on it.

It's not like they developed a niche site with different pricing and/or only devoted to a subset of products. I suppose if someone did take the time to create such a thing, it's not quite as bad as the overt manipulation we're trying to fight.

Just to be a devil's advocate, some other things to consider are:

1. What are micro sites worth to your brand dilution and customer loyalty?
2. Do you want to be competing against yourself in PPC, or worse, opening this up for other competitors to abuse, starting off a bidding war?
3. Why not put the money and resources spent on those dup sites and PPC campaigns to better use?
I would argue that you can make MORE MONEY if you just strengthen your core brand and site user experience. Focus on converting your traffic; not just getting more.

Conversion Rate Optimization has a way better ROI than either PPC or SEO.

(see #7 - 2010 is the Year of Conversion Rate Optimization)

"The average business metrics improvement after a usability redesign is now 83%"

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