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Adwords Injustice

How to fight Bogus Banning

     
11:22 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I recently had a very bizarre experience with Google Adwords.

I am trying to launch a web site that I and my wife and a couple of contractors I hired created. It took us quite some time to finish because no one was working full time on it. However, it offers a unique and useful service to teachers and students in the form of an advanced tool for making many different kinds of quizzes, tests, adaptive tests, jeopardy games, surveys, polls, educational blogs, etc. It offers a trial version, the site is secure, is protected with an SSL certificate, has a privacy policy, is insured, and offers a free trial version. I advertise using adwords that correspond to the product. I've always paid my bills on time. If requested I can prove any of this.

Then my account is banned allegedly because of a violation of the policy. There are 70 points in the policy and we are in full compliance with all them. No explanation of which point is the problem or what the problem could be is offered and I am asked not to contact them again.

I asked on the Google forums about what the problem could be. Those who looked at the web site could not guess what the problem possibly could be. While reading/writing on the forums I notice that other people have had similar mysterious problems with banning and I read that people believe that the reason might be that Google is banning new upstarts that are threatening to established clients. I am not sure if that is true but I find it plausible. What I do know is that this mysterious and unjustified banning is fishy/bogus and I have to conclude that others complaining about the same thing also have been banned unjustly.

The problem is not just that I have to look at other advertising venues which is not a big deal. The problem is that this unjustly tarnishes our/my reputation. In addition there is a good chance Google is doing something fishy and perhaps illegal so trying to get to the bottom of this is worthwhile.

I want to know if other people here has experienced a similar bizarre ban. Does anyone have a suggestion for how to deal with this? What I want to know most of all if it is possible to find out the reason(s), if such reason(s) exist at all.

Could a lawyer help?

Has anyone tried?

Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.

Thomas Wikman
12:37 am on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I've seen some of this before. You'll need to post a copy of the email you got informing you of being banned, plus ideally show us some copies of keywords and ad text plus the landing pages to help have a chance of figuring this out. Normally banning is due to Google determining that your business is illegal, is using JavaScript or other deceptive redirects on landing pages repeatedly, or the site either has AdSense on it or is redirecting to an AdSense site within a couple clicks and it trying to take advantage of AdWords/AdSense price arbitrage opportunities.
12:41 am on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Brockguntersmith, Webmaster World does not permit the posting of emails, so please do not suggest that to Thomas.
3:13 am on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thank you Brockguntersmith. Interesting information. I believe I have been banned for bogus reasons, however, any suggestions that could help me figure out what happened would be helpful. I think I leave out the email since I am not allowed to post it.

The business is absolutely legal. The site does not have, utilize or redirect to AdSense. The only redirection that occurs is http://www.example.com --> [example.com...] and that is not deceptive. It is a redirect to the secure https location of the site. However, what you say about JavaScript worries me. The site uses JavaScript but not for any deceptive purposes, just to create its functionality. I believe that is very common.

Any additional thoughts and suggestions are welcome. Again the web site is <snip>

Thomas Wikman

[edited by: buckworks at 5:16 am (utc) on Mar 27, 2010]
[edit reason] Removed specifics; see TOS [/edit]

3:42 am on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Lawyers will not help, read the terms and conditions of adwords and you will see you can not hold Google's feet to the fire.

Also, you would be much better off if you did not offer a "free trial" and take peoples personal information and credit card information. You would be much better off just selling the product or service flat out and not even offering a "free trial". Google is very skeptical about website like that due to the sheer volume of abuse that has happened over time.

Besides that, if you really are not doing anything shady, then it could be that Google does not feel your product or service adds value for their users compared to other advertisers that are in your niche. Many people were recently banned because Google felt that certain websites would not add value for their users.

There is really nothing you can do about it but email them and ask them to take a second look. If they reply that they will not reinstate you then their decision is final and I would suggest you look at other advertising methods.
2:56 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Besides that, if you really are not doing anything shady, then it could be that Google does not feel your product or service adds value for their users compared to other advertisers that are in your niche. Many people were recently banned because Google felt that certain websites would not add value for their users.

There is really nothing you can do about it but email them and ask them to take a second look. If they reply that they will not reinstate you then their decision is final and I would suggest you look at other advertising methods.


Tnl,

Let's say that we indeed have all the details of Thomas's plight and the ban is permanent, your guess as to Google's logic behind the ban simply doesn't cut it.

Perhaps the Campaign and Adgroup could be disapproved if it's truly not a good fit for the niche Thomas is seeking to enter, but why ban him?

Who knows what other ideas and future campaigns Thomas is capable of that would indeed bring this perceived needed value to Adwords?

Israel
4:26 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thomas Wikman, most likely reason is person banning your AW account has a competing website.

Of course, what trinorthlighting says is a complete crap.
Saying:
Lawyers will not help, read the terms and conditions of adwords...

is just another way of saying there is, in fact, no agreement and no terms and conditions of service! And that is very true!

... it could be that Google does not feel your product or service adds value for their users compared to other advertisers that are in your niche. Many people were recently banned because Google felt that certain websites would not add value for their users.


Feelings!?... Did you say feelings?... Do you really believe that business relations should be based on feelings?
5:03 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Simply said, Google has plenty of high quality advertisers available and in line to advertise in certain niches. Google is applying the laws of supply and demand right now and the lower quality sites that will make them less money are being kicked to the curb. I hate to say it, but Google knows even when they kick people to the curb, there will be more in line to advertise down the road if they really need them. Many people who start business fail to realize that there is limited real estate for advertisements to display in Google search to begin with in certain niches. Google wants to display ads that make them money and that their users want to see the most. Google knows their business better than any of us do and their financials prove it. From a Google business standpoint it makes sense. Why spend your assets time on something you really do not need right now? Spend your assets time on the niches that need more advertisers and develop those niches. Does that make Google is evil? Not really, AdWords is their main income generating business the they are making business decisions the same way any other business does.
5:40 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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There is only one realistic option here: You need to get on the phone with a real person from AdWords for an explanation on what you did wrong.

You can't fight Google's ruling on this with threats and anger. People have reversed bans by being calm and collected when they talk to support.
5:49 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Simply said, Google has plenty of high quality advertisers available and in line to advertise in certain niches.

Simply said, if AW is based on bids then the more bidders there are for an advertising spot the higher is the price! Obviously, (if they have 'plenty of advertisers') then AW is not based on bids and every explanation to the general public what is AW is just smoke and mirrors!

Google is applying the laws of supply and demand right now and the lower quality sites that will make them less money are being kicked to the curb.

No, Google is not applying the laws of supply and demand, because by banning accounts they artificially curb market laws!
7:26 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google is making decisions for their users and they are also making decisions on what best impact their bottom line. Google knows that quality advertisements will keep users coming back to search in the future and click on ads. Think about it, if you do not find what you need when you go shopping, you go to a different store right? If that other store has a better service, you might end up sticking with the other store in the long run correct? Google wants users to find what they need so they keep coming back to their store instead of going to the competition. Thus, here comes the quality screening of accounts.

As far as the argument that Google is curbing market laws I do not believe that one bit. Google does not have a monopoly over the advertising business because there are other alternatives out there online, print, radio and television that reach a much wider market of people. Google has every right to make their own business decisions because it is their business and we have all seen the move towards quality recently.
8:25 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google is making decisions for their users and they are also making decisions on what best impact their bottom line.

So, there is a conflict here between the quality of the organic and AW serps? Google needs their bottom line FIRST! So, they need more and more people clicking on AW ads than on organics?! Antagonistic conflict...

Think about it, if you do not find what you need when you go shopping, you go to a different store right?

Of course. However, you forget that Google is not a store but just a pointer to different stores!

Thus, here comes the quality screening of accounts.

Thus, Google is making decisions not only for their users but for their advertisers' users as well?!

As far as the argument that Google is curbing market laws I do not believe that one bit.

This is not a question of belief or feelings. This is a question about obvious facts. All thousands of pages dedicated to optimizing your AW campaigns is just a nonsense. If you optimize your campaign you'll pay less. If you pay less, Google will get less. If they get less than what they 'feel' they must get then you will be banned. Simple as that!

Google does not have a monopoly over the advertising business because there are other alternatives out there online, print, radio and television that reach a much wider market of people.

Google have the monopoly over the Internet advertising!

... because it is their business and we have all seen the move towards quality recently.

I don't see any move towards quality recently. All I see is a move towards more greed coupled with lack of sound business strategy.
9:20 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If you optimize your campaign you'll pay less. If you pay less, Google will get less.


That is faulty reasoning.

When someone optimizes their campaigns so their AdWords dollars are more productive than they used to be, that advertiser will be motivated to spend more with Google, not less.
10:01 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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That is faulty reasoning.

No, it is not faulty at all.

When someone optimizes their campaigns so their AdWords dollars are more productive than they used to be...

Your dream is based on two wrong perceptions:

1. Every market or market niche has unlimited absorbing capacity.
2. There is no competitors on AW.

However, reality is quite different.

1. Every market niche has limited demand capacity. Moreover, the number of searches on Google for a given product or service is more or less constant.
2. If your dollars are more productive that means your competitors' dollars are less productive i.e. your competitors are motivated to spend less on AW i.e. Google again generally gets less.

Either way, if you get more sales for same ad dollars or get same sales for less ad dollars, Google gets less.
10:33 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Wildbest,

1. Google has their bottom line and continue to grow it so I am sure their decision making is sound and they have a very good track record financially.

2. Google is not a store, they provide a service to their users. The better experience the users get the more the users come back to use their service.

3. Google is not making choices for their advertisers, they are make choices on which advertisers to display. That is purely their choice and no one else's.

4. Legally, Google does not have a monopoly over search advertising by law. So that argument does not hold much weight. There are plenty of other services out there.

5. Google is in the business of making money with AdWords, you can call it greed all you want but you have to remember people have invested millions of dollars and they expect a return.
11:21 pm on Mar 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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(I am so tired of this reactionary crap by people who don't know what they are talking about)

Thomas Wikman - this is just a guess, but I have seen a number of people who have gotten accounts banned because of their "Free Trial" business model. I have no reason to think yours isn't entirely on the up and up, but the fallout from rebill offers (where the buyer thinks they are getting a free trial but end up being automatically subscribed to some monthly charge) has been pretty brutal. It may be that the "free trial" automatically triggers some extra scrutiny on Google's part.

The specific cases that I was asked to look at were not rebill offers; there was an offer of a real free trial, but the actual purchase price / purchase terms were not on the landing page - they were one or two clicks off it. I do run ads for clients who offer free samples and free trials, but I make sure ALL the terms and pricing are plainly marked on the landing page. And I've never had a problem with AdWords. If your site is constructed that way, that may be the problem. You may just be collateral damage from the whole rebill mess.

If they told you not to contact them again, you probably don't have much chance getting back in the program, unless you can get the attention of an actual AdWords employee. And nowadays, that's pretty tough. I wish I could offer you some hope there, but I can't.
12:21 pm on Mar 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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(I am so tired of this reactionary crap by people who don't know what they are talking about)

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices"
William James
8:17 pm on Mar 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for all this useful information

What you netmeg and trinorthlighting are saying about the trial version might be the problem. It is the first plausible explanation that I've seen/heard. However, the trial version does not collect credit card information and before you purchase you are shown the price options. However, the purchase price is not shown until you start the buying process. This is not intentional deceit and will not harm anybody, but it was probably a mistake to do it this way. Another problem is that the trial version asks for unnecessary information like name and address. This was to avoid that people used the trial version over and over. However, this does not look so good now.

In any case I still don't agree that an indefinite ban is appropriate since I can fix this and I have plenty of other projects up my sleeve as well, which I now cannot advertise with Google.

As for "Google does not feel your product or service adds value for their users compared to other advertisers". This particular product offers advanced options that you cannot find elsewhere. It is a small subset of people who need/want them but they add value for those people. It would be a mistake on Google's part to prevent potential customers from using a product that has value to them. The web site look is simple and somewhat primitive but it is a mom-pop very small software company that adds value to a subset of people. It is not anything wrong with that.

This is wise advice-->

" There is only one realistic option here: You need to get on the phone with a real person from AdWords for an explanation on what you did wrong. "

" You can't fight Google's ruling on this with threats and anger. People have reversed bans by being calm and collected when they talk to support. "

The questions is, how do you get on the phone with a real person from Google Adwords?

Thomas
9:32 pm on Mar 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It would be a mistake on Google's part to prevent potential customers from using a product that has value to them.


The problem is also one of scale. Two years ago, you probably could have gotten some help (it probably wouldn't have happened in the first place) Now, after they've cut back so severely on support, they're pretty much running one strike and you're out. No, it's not fair. But they looked at the bottom line and decided what their priorities are.

I don't know how you can get someone on the phone. When I have a problem, I go everywhere I can think of (here, twitter, the forums) and yell as loudly (but reasonably) as I can until either I get tired of it or they get tired of it and I get some help.

I'm just afraid if you've already been working in the forum and they've told you not to contact them again - well, I don't know anyone who's been reinstated from that. Maybe there have been - but I've not heard of it.
10:44 pm on Mar 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I had a 7 year old account (which had spent well into 7-figs) abruptly cut off without notice.

After a couple of days working with my Adwords rep, we finally worked out why the account had been suspended although it was clear that the compliance team had made a mistake in doing so.

It took a further 3 days or so to get them to actually have a look at the account & satisfy themselves that it wasn't in violation.

They then reinstated the account (although rather than offer an apology, I received a sort of veiled threat that if it ever happens again (not sure what 'it' refers to), it really will be the last time)

Very frustrating - what I can't understand is why they don't tell you what they think you've done wrong...
2:04 am on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Here is the telephone number:

United States: 1-866-246-6453

United Kingdom: 0845 358 0038
2:45 am on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the phone number. This is great help.

However, I'll have to see what happens. If a 7-year old 7-figs account is treated that way what is going to happen to a new 2-figs account?

Anyway thanks

Thomas
3:29 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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From reading the post the first thing that popped into my mind as the issue was the trial version, but I am doing research on a landing page we are building for a product. In my research I am doing I am checking the landing pages of the companies in the same field. Over 50% offer a free demo with a form to gather information Name, address, company, email, phone. The usual information for contact. Some not all have free demo in the adwords ad.

Now I am wondering is it a violation or not? I told marketing we could not have any form for taking information or free demo on the landing page, but with so many doing it in PPC is it a violation or not?

Not trying the hijack the post this is related because of my thoughts it was the trial offer but now I wonder if it was or not.

Edited to add some information.
[adwords.google.com...]

This list has some conflicting info. Reading the quidlines in Transparency
In order to build trust with users, your site should be explicit in three primary areas: the nature of your business; how your site interacts with a visitor's computer; and how you intend to use a visitor's personal information, if you request it
Now if you are requesting information for a free trial offer or demo to be in guidlines you need to have how this information will be used. I assume not on the landing page as I didn't see this on any of the sites I looked at dojng PPC with the Free Demo, but in privacy policy area.

But here
Navigability
In keeping with our policies about high-quality user experiences, we advise against promoting the following types of sites. In some instances, ads for such sites will not be allowed to run. Note that this is not an exhaustive list and we are constantly updating in response to user complaints. Types of sites that go against our guidelines include:

Data collection sites that offer free items, etc., in order to collect private information. Also known as information harvesting
This will get ya banned.

How does Google determine the difference were one is not a violation and one is?

Thomas Wikman I wonder if your site didn't have the trust buildng information so when reviewed by Google it looked like a site harverster and this is why you were banned. Then again your not banned on the first bad ad it usually takes a history of bad ads to get the boot, or emails that were not looked at warning of quality score issues.

[edited by: bwnbwn at 4:04 pm (utc) on Mar 29, 2010]

3:33 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Very frustrating - what I can't understand is why they don't tell you what they think you've done wrong...


Probably legal reasons. Much safer to never admit fault.
5:06 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This Google's thing (yes, thing, because there is no word to describe it) about suspending accounts for various reasons reminds me onto Roman times when everybody would wait for the Caesar to put his thumb up or down.

About that free trial theory - is that covered by Google's TOS specifically? Does it explain how a free trial is to be promoted?

You see Thomas, unless you're really overseeing some mistake all the time, if you're a big brand, you could actually get people's CC info right up front and Google would do nothing about it.
That's called opt-out. Basically you download a free software trial, but you give all your payment data. If you don't cancel it within the period required (like 15 or 30 days), you get charged.
Furthermore, Google's own approach to "tracking" people's habits and serving "personalized" search results in both paid and organic search is also opt-out and many members of this (prominent) forum have ranted about it, and if you tell people on the streets of New York or San Diego, many of them would rant about it as well. And still nothing.

If a free trial is a big deal, take it out totally and put up the pricing and see if you can get a hold of somebody at Google.
Keep in mind that people that AdWords users normally talk to are not as people from the policy team, and their subgroups like LPQ (landing page quality) team. See netfleet's post. His dedicated support had no clue about what was going on with the policy team. There are more stories like that. Policy team is like "untouchables", something like a secret service inside the CIA.
I'm telling you this so you get a better idea about how hard it is going to be to actually get somebody take a look into your site.

Also, we know that Google have been sending final warnings in the past, and in your case it sounds like there was no strike count but suspension right away. You may ask that question if you ever get a chance to talk to someone.
For phone numbers, be ready to get automated message that you do not qualify for phone support after you enter your account number. Try as a new advertiser.

Is it only you that has an access to your Google AdWords account? Some folks had a trouble because people with violation history have been logging into their accounts (with or without owners knowledge).
Have you ever received an email asking you to log into your AdWords account? There were a lot of phishing stuff going around. Some people got caught and found newly created campaigns that run from their accounts. Some malware stuff.
11:45 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I think there is a big difference from a "free demo" versus a "free trial"

A "free demo" should be a show of the product or service, how it works and take no personal information.

A "Free Trial" should really be free and not have reoccurring credit card billing or take any personal information. (Google is not liking that much at all anymore due to the sheer volume of abuse in the past)

Last but not least, you can sell it flat out and take all the information that you like (Google would prefer to see that)

So, IMHO you are better off just doing a "free demo" and flat out selling the product of service. I would stay away from the "free trial" just to keep your own accounts out of hot water.

If you think about it, most businesses or services who have quality businesses do not have "free trials" with reoccurring credit card billing correct?
4:41 am on Mar 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If you think about it, most businesses or services who have quality businesses do not have "free trials" with reoccurring credit card billing correct?


Yeah, especially (top) anti virus software companies that keep charging until bank's Internet dies.
Even Microsoft's home page has this in its center: Download free trials today

Free demo is if you're in vacuums. Send a student in white socks to demonstrate the latest sucker.

Party breaker...
1:06 pm on Mar 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hmm ok one says "free demon" is the better way yet as smallcompany shows microsoft even uses "free trial".
What I will do since I have never had a bad quality score and feel I can monitor the ad is use "Request a Free Demo/Trial" and see what I get on the review/quality score.
1:37 pm on Mar 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I said most reputable companies, not all of them. Microsoft is big and trusted name, if you are small and unknown you are still better off staying away from "free trial"

If you look over on the adwords forum on Google you will see many new accounts not being approved and a big part of those accounts have a "free trial" that take your information and credit card number.
3:35 pm on Mar 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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In addition, do you take emails from your visitors like for newsletters or similar? It has been brought up in the past that using third party for email "harvesting" was something to fix (due to the possibility that the third party could/would misuse those emails).

In response to free trial/demo comments, I would not speculate much about it at this moment.
Your best option is to build a new landing page without free trial. That will leave you not messing up with the rest of your site if you're having any organic traffic coming in.

I made comments about free trials only to emphasize that while other advertisers are actively promoting free trials and even take CC right up front, thinking that you got suspended for having a free trial offer that does not even take the payment info tells me something is wrong - either with that thinking or with Google.

You said free trial did not require payment information. Is it really just a click to download or people still have to enter some info (like email address)?

Anyhow, that does not sound like a (right) reason for suspension (without prior strikes like QS 1/10). Have you been changing URLs for the same site that maybe had 1/10 in the past? Have you had QS 1/10 for other sites within the same account or other accounts that you've been having in the past? Have you ever been in affiliate business?
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