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Understand Google's advertising policies, including ad approval status and account suspension
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"Options" the new double serve?

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# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Best way of describing what's going on since the change from PLA's to Shopping on 9/1:


A competitor sells a book.  The book comes in one form and one form only, paperback.   The competitor lists the book as "Book ABC" with a unique landing page, description and price.    The competitor then lists the same book as "Customized Book ABC" with a unique landing page, but same description and price per piece, but the total price (we all sell in bulk) is a smidge higher because they're changing the presentation of the item.   


Think of it as selling the same book, but maybe this one is wrapped in fancy paper before being put in the box.  Same item, same manufacturer, identical in every way.  Sku on the inside of the item is the same from the original manufacturer.  At times they take up 4 of the top 5 spots doing this for the SAME item. 


It would seem per Google this is fine, and the new way to double serve without actually double serving.  For users of Google it's an atrocious user experience but as an advertiser you know by doing it you're blocking out all of your competition and the chances that someone will click on all 4 or 5 ads is slim to none.


Huge win.  Google says it's all legit, you can advertise the identical product (same color, same item, same base sku, same base price) if just one little thing is different, so it would seem the new way to do this will be to add a mythical fee to the 2nd set of identical products you want to list which changes the prices a tiny amount.  Since this started on 9/1 I know our ROI plummeted and costs have gone up 30%, and I know that's the same for many others in our niche.  

2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: "Options" the new double serve?

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor


Let me ping one of our specialists on Shopping /PLA

@Celebird ? 

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Re: "Options" the new double serve?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
It's unfortunate as it's not a great user experience. More unfortunate for us as we've seen our ad budgets crushed (CPC has gone from about 2.18 to 2.90 in the last two weeks after being in the low 2s for the year prior.

I can give specific examples. The lack of policy enforcement is really driving up costs for other advertisers and it's unfortunate. This one is a bit more of a gray area but it still is simple for anyone to see what it does to the rest of the advertising pool.

Think of buying a suit, a very specific name brand suit available with no alterations. The second listing would be that suit "folded" instead of on a hangar when shipped. That isn't two different products it's the same product with a minor option change.

Now picture those two ads running next to two other ads running for 2 suits, one pressed one unpressed. Same 4 actual suits, taking up 80% of the top ad spots all for the same advertiser.

Re: "Options" the new double serve?

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

are these bespoke/customized related items?

during what time frame were the issues and details reported directly to google?

in what exact context has "Google says it's all legit," been articulated?

has a policy specialist been assigned to the issue?

have exact url's, screen-captures, browser details,
and target-country details, been sent to google?

Re: "Options" the new double serve?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
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13 days ago. Multiple times since then via chat, via email, multiple direct phone calls, mutliple policy violation reports.

We were told today by phone even the company that lists single piece prices when no customer can buy at that price or in that quantity for the entire feed was fine but we could appeal whatever that means. Nothing says quality results like clicking on an ad that lists a $6 item only to find out you need to buy 1000 of them to get that price, can't buy one, but hey it all generates click revenue and increasing CPC costs.

Re: "Options" the new double serve?

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

there are specific product categories that are
explicitly exempt from the bulk-pricing rules --
so the details are important to a decision.

also, other ad-types may be seen nearby product-listing-ads
that are also not restricted by the related bulk-pricing policies.

if there are additional details that were not considered
then the best likely course would be to respond directly
to the policy-team who is handling the case or submit a
more detailed report to the policy-team --

forum members can mainly offer suggestions -- based on
the details that are posted here within the public forums.


only a person at google can look into the submitted data (feed)

or account to verify the reported details of any specific merchant.

google is the final arbiter of all policies.


Re: "Options" the new double serve?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
These categories are not excluded and the chat transcripts clearly
acknowledge the violations. I spend $500,000 a year on ads I know the
difference between a shopping ad and a search ad.

You may be correct and PPC isn't held to the same standard as organic
traffic. After all a bad user experience and many clicks is good for the
bottom line one would presume. That clock can't be turned back and all the
rest of us drive bidding up to regain what we lost to poor enforcement.
We never get a refund and we will never see prices drop so the reality of
it is slow enforcement is good for revenue.

Re: "Options" the new double serve?

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor

unfortunately, the details required to assess a potential policy
violation cannot be inspected or verified by forum members --
but google tends to read the forums.

policy issues are typically handled by the policy-team.

Re: "Options" the new double serve?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Celebird the frustration is the first case is a violation of this there is
zero doubt. Verified by their specialists yet no action. They don't read
the policy violation forms they're a waste of time.

There appears to be no immediate problem with violating the rules. If you
can cash in for 2-3 weeks while they verify its worth it.

As far as the option issue goes its a side door into double serving. Sell
Product A regular and product A deluxe with the deluxe being a piece of 8.5
paper in the box and charge ten cents more for packing. Different landing
page, same product. Sell it in a pack of two and get two more products.
Now stack the top of the page.

The words substantially different come to mind as do industry standard. If
google really believes four identical items ordered by the same company
provide a better user experience for the end user then we've truly jumped
the ppc shark and are moving toward Yahoo.2

Re: "Options" the new double serve?

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 10
Top Contributor


alternatively, not all merchants likely have the same level of understanding
of the policies and what is being seen in results -- too quickly removing or
disapproving items or suspending merchants, that seem to have obvious
violations, without following a process, may potentially lead to competitors
simply reporting others constantly and a retaliation cycle of false-negatives.

i believe most alternatives are not immune from similar issues.

also, posting the exact policy pages (url's) being violated may help --