AdWords
3.2K members online now
3.2K members online now
Understand Google's advertising policies, including ad approval status and account suspension
Guide Me
star_border
Reply

Google says we're information harvesting

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Super frustrated right now.  We've had a terrible time getting through Google's screening process. We're a startup and we're recruiting a beta group to help us with customer development and to provide product feedback.  We thought we'd do what literally thousands of other startups do before their product is ready for prime time -- put up a landing page and ask people to sign up for the beta.  

 

We were pretty shocked when AdWords suspended our account for violating their information harvesting policy.  We've rewritten the landing page three times to try to make the screeners happy but we're still suspended.  We've run out of ideas for rewriting the page.  What are we missing here?  Has anyone else had to deal with this?  Is there an escalation path in the AdWords hierarchy?  

 

In case it helps, our landing pages are at http://moontango.com

 

Thanks for any help you can share.

 

Bob

2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Google says we're information harvesting

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hello, Bob.

To quote from the page dealing with this policy (https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/190438?hl=en) "Google AdWords doesn't allow websites whose primary purpose is to collect personal information."

On your page we can see this: "If you would like an invitation to join MoonTango's private beta, please leave us your name and email. Beta members will recieve progress updates and opportunities to help shape the MoonTango experience."

So, at this point in your startup's existence, you are, in fact, harvesting information. There's nothing else that website is doing, but collect e-mail addresses. Yes, other startups may do the same (try to gauge people's interest & shape the product by measuring subscription rate & interacting with their target group (as an aside I think some never actually launch if they feel that in the end it's not worth launching)), but not through AdWords.

You cannot collect e-mail addresses through AdWords and even when you have a fully functional shop you need to have a privacy policy in place. A one page website with an e-mail collection form will never work. If it were that simple, thousands of websites such as this one may be created every hour across the world and they would collect millions of e-mail addresses.

Please note that I'm not saying you're doing this. I'm merely saying that if such a scenario would be accepted by Google, it would open the door for serious abuse.

I'm pretty sure you may continue to promote your startup through social media & other channels and gather enough people to serve as a beta group. It's just not possible to do so with AdWords.

Calin Sandici, AdWords Top Contributor | Find me on: Google+ | Twitter | LinkedIn | myBlog
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’ Learn how here.

Re: Google says we're information harvesting

Top Contributor
# 3
Top Contributor

Hi Bob

Indeed, this site violates the information harvesting section of the Policy, The primary goal of the landing page  is to collect personal information;

Promote a page on Google that gives details about the product / service... Build a sire.

If you can't do that (the product is in early design stages, confidentiality, etc.,.) do not promote it on Google.

 

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer’

Re: Google says we're information harvesting

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thanks, Calin. I appreciate your analysis. The frustration for me is that we are a legit, early stage company -- we have investors, we launched an alpha before this, we have paying customers, shipped product, etc... we're just working now on the next generation of the service. I know with complete certainty that lots and lots of simple landing page websites from startups looking for validation are advertised on adwords every day. I don't know how we got singled out. Do you think if we were to add links to some of the pages from our alpha launch that we'd pass muster, i.e., our privacy policy, FAQ, contact page, etc?

Re: Google says we're information harvesting

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thanks, MosheTLV, I have the same question that I had for Calin, above. Do you think if we were to add links to some of the pages from our alpha launch that we'd pass muster, i.e., our privacy policy, FAQ, contact page, etc.?

Re: Google says we're information harvesting

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor
Bob, I cannot guarantee that you'd pass muster if you worked on that website, but let's do a little exercise here.

I know Unbounce and like their product. However, using a single page here hurts, IMHO. It hurts confidence (who are they, what do they want, why should I give them my e-mail address). It also hurts because it doesn't offer more information, more incentives for people to sign up.

What I'd do is I'd put up a full website, describing exactly what you said above. You are a legit company. Fine. Put the company info on that page. You have investors. Even better. Tell people who they are (if that info is not confidential). You launched an alpha. Fantastic. Put up a download link. You have paying customers. Amazing. Ask three of them for a short review that you can quote on the website.

And last, but not least, put up a good privacy policy. Let people know that apart from you and for the sole purpose of access to your beta, nobody will ever (ab)use their e-mail.

Let's say that you will still not be able to use AdWords to promote your website / startup. But don't you think that the chances of converting any kind of traffic, not just AdWords, might be higher if you do things that way? Don't you think that having content on your website, present in Google / Bing's organic indexes might help you reach your goal as well?

I think it'd be a win-win situation, with or without AdWords. But I'd like to hear your take on this as well.
Calin Sandici, AdWords Top Contributor | Find me on: Google+ | Twitter | LinkedIn | myBlog
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’ Learn how here.

Re: Google says we're information harvesting

Follower ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Follower ✭ ✭ ✭
Hey Bob,

Further to the great advice by Moshe and Bob, I wanted to stress a few points because I had a good number of friends fall into a similar situation as yours. As a visitor to your landing page, it "told" me two things, and these are your major issues with it:

1) Give me your email, or get out.
2) Give me your email now, ask questions later.

As Bob said, this approach opens up the system for serious abuse as it allows abusers to put together a generic 5 second compelling landing page to take the users' email, once they're "outside" the Google ecosystem, an abuser could then spam them with affiliate offers or worse.

The landing page gives me some "benefits" but I still fail to ultimately understand what your product actually is, why am I giving out my email? So you need to ask yourself the question:

What am I doing on your landing page?

I'd strongly recommend building a "full website" like they recommended above. Add a prominent navigation bar, "About Us", "What we do", "FAQ", "Testimonials"...etc.

The situation here is similar to you being at the door of a physical shop that has a label on the door saying "best clothes in town!", you try to enter but the security guard tells you need to give your mailing address because they create custom clothes and ship them to you. What would your reaction be? Why would I give you my mailing address now? Let me look around, see what you offer, talk to the sales people, decide whether this is right for me.

You get the picture? So basically all the advice you're getting is attempting to make your visitors be able to do a lot on your website without having to give their email as key to unlock a door they don't even know what's behind yet.

Hope that helps Smiley Happy

Re: Google says we're information harvesting

Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor

This help article could be helpful;

Understanding landing page experience

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer’

Re: Google says we're information harvesting

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks for the great advice, one and all.  Your insights and suggestions have evolved my thinking about landing pages and I think we have a way forward now.

 

Best of luck to all of you in your own endeavors.

 

Bob