I wrestled with Google this week.
I felt like it was a struggle of biblical proportions. Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis chapter 32. David fighting Goliath in I Samuel chapter 17. But this time it was me, Bob. I wrestled with Google over adword titles that I felt violated their terms and conditions of use and fair business practices. It took three emails, sound logic, and big dose of persistence. But in the end I won out. Wow.
At issue were adword titles using a domain name.
The problem was that competitors were paying for Google ads and using a domain name that they didn’t own as the adword title. If the viewer of the ad clicked it they were taken to the competitor site.
Example: I key a domain into a search bar thinking I’ve keyed it into an address bar in a browser. Let’s say I key “ABCDomain.com”
ABCDomain.com shows as the first unpaid search result. However, it also appears a few other times above the real ABCDomain.com as a paid search result. But’s it not really ABCDomain.com, it just says that in the title. If you click it, you are directed to SneakyCompetitor.com.
Implied affiliation is prohibited in Google’s adword policy.
The battle was strange. I filed the proper adword dispute form to question the practice. My argument was that this practice violated the policy for implied affiliation.
Ads and sites can’t contain language that’s likely to cause confusion about the association between your services and another company’s services. Implying affiliation with another company may include using their trademark or logo in your ad text or on your landing page.
But they kept saying that I didn’t have a trademark or common law protection on the domain name in question. Ownership of the domain was not enough for implied affiliation. Really?
After a second appeal, Google changed it’s stance and took corrective action.
Then something happened. I was granted a second appeal after sending my third email. In my last email I abandoned the reason of the adword policy and stated that it just wasn’t good business practice from Google to allow this type of deceptive advertising. It took, and my request won out. The little stone from the slingshot had found it’s mark. I’m happy to report the offending ads have been removed.
If you are using adwords then compete with integrity.
It still irks me that some competitors feel they have to use names and marks they don’t own to steal business. Competition is about several factors including price, quality, and value of goods and services in the market place. Don’t let the public confuse my brand marks with what you provide. Let’s compete fairly.