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Understand Google's advertising policies, including ad approval status and account suspension
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[ Edited ]
Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆
# 1
Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆

Afternoon all,


Yesterday I was in a small debate about whether the use of underscores vs. the use of hyphens in Display URLs has any impact on an advert's Click-Through-Rate.


Whilst checking the official documentation for Display URLs I noticed a small clause that states advertisers cannot use underscores in their Display URL.


I was somewhat baffled by this discovery so I called Google AdWords Support and asked them for some clarification.


Here's what they said.




It's Ruth here from Google Adwords. We spoke on the phone regarding your Adwords account. I would like to share some clarification for you on this issue. To surmise, hyphens (-) are allowed in the display URL, but not underscores. The article that has the clear info in this instance is here. Please see the following snippet to clarify: 


URL format: Check that the URL you enter for your ad doesn't include "http://" or "https://" since these are added on separately. The display URL for your site cannot be an IP address (such as 123.45.678.90) or use non-standard characters (such as !, *, #, _, @).


Note that there are no hyphens in that example. 







- So from what Ruth is saying we're not allowed to use underscores. This seems so strange as I've always used them and never had any adverts disapproved as a result.


Almost any Google search will return adverts that contain underscores in the Display URL.


See the below examples from extremely high traffic terms.


They include adverts from:

  • Microsoft
  • Expedia
  • Burton
  • Topman
  • Money Supermarket
  • Yellow Pages /


(Right-click image and "Open image in new tab" for a better view)





Can someone please tell me if this is really a true policy? Is the documentation just referring to the part of the URL before the forward slash? (Not that a domain containing an underscore could be registered)




Are all these high-profile advertisers breaching AdWords policy?




Appreciate your comments guys Smiley Happy



All the best,




P.S. Would anyone else say that Topman & Burton (both owned by Arcadia Group) are technically double serving under common ownership?


Google’s definition of Common Ownership is “when the same entity, whether an individual or a business, owns or controls one or more of the sites in question at the time of multiple ad serving.


"Violations of this policy occur when multiple websites share Common Ownership …, plus when two or more of the following factors are present:


  • Common product offering: For physical goods being sold, the sites share products in common such that a user browsing the site would perceive little difference in inventory between the sites. - I think this applies. Burton & Topman sell the same products


  • Similar pricing: When pricing is available on the sites, there’s a price difference between the sites of 25% or less for substantially the same product or service. When two or more sites solicit contact information from users in order to provide a custom quote, they will be considered to have zero price difference. - I think this applies. Burton & Topman prices are identical for products both stock.


  • Similar customer support experience: The sites offer the same or similar type of product or service for which the customer can expect to receive the same or similar level of Support …  - I think this applies. Burton & Topman have exactly the same level of customer service.


  • Brand: The sites have non-differentiated Brands … for which either the brand name is the same or the logo is the same." - This doesn't apply. Burton & Topman have differentiated their brands.
Marked as Best Answer.
Accepted by topic author Spike-Patching
September 2015


Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆
# 2
Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆

Google called me to say that this only applies to the part of the Display URL before the forward slash and apparently the wording in their policy is where the confusion lies.

Thanks for the clarification Google!