About a year ago we were contacted by Google to participate in their AdWords Program. For those of you not familiar with Google, when you do a search small advertisements will appear next to your search. These are called AdWords. For a small price, whenever somebody types in a keyword in the Google Search engine, your advertisement will appear next to their search.

Everytime we try to use the program, however, we have been told that our ad was unacceptable, because “Google does not allow advertisements that promote drug-use or illegal activities or drug paraphernalia.

As a result we have been turned down for “weed,” “hydroponics,” as well as for “marijuana” and “pot.”

Recently we tried the words “shrooms,” “spores,” and “mushroomkit.” We did actually get 3 hits on our ad before they caught up with us and refused the ad again. As you can see from the following exchange, they would give us bogus reasons for turning down the ad, because they do not allow “magic mushrooms.” We never said anything about magic mushrooms, however. We simply used these innocuous words which could be used for any type of mushroom.

It really did seem that we were being singled out because of the other books on our site, which could perhaps be seen as promoting illegal activities. On the other hand, our books are also sold by Amazon.com and many other sites, too, so could it be guilt by association? Could it be that we were singled out because of who we were, rather than what we were advertising? Could it be that Google is discriminating against us because we were selling controversial books? That doesn’t seem fair does it?

The following exchange should prove very interesting to you. Please note that it reads from the most recent letter down to the first exchange, which is common for most email programs.

Dear Arielle:

I wish you had told me ahead of time that you would simply not accept
advertisements from us, rather than actively recruit us to participate in
the Adwords program and then give us bogus reasons for turning us down every
time we tried to run an ad.

We do not sell any books that are not also sold by Amazon and many other
advertisers of yours, so it looks to me like you are being hypocritical and
probably also are acting in restraint of trade.

Thank you,
David

on 8/6/04 2:03 PM, AdWords Support at adwords-support@google.com wrote:

> Hello David,
>
> Thank you for your email. I understand that your ad in Campaign #4, Ad
> Group ‘shrooms’ was recently disapproved for promoting drugs or drug
> paraphernalia.
>
> Google believes strongly in freedom of expression and therefore offers
> broad access to content across the web without censoring search results.
> At the same time, we reserve the right to exercise editorial discretion
> when it comes to the advertising we accept on our site, as noted in our
> advertising terms and conditions.
>
> The AdWords team reviews each ad in the AdWords program, and we reserve
> the right to refuse to run certain ads or categories of ads on a
> case-by-case basis. We do not permit ads for sites that promote drug use
> or sites that sell books and other products which promote the use of
> drugs. We are thus unable to allow ads for www.homesteadbook.com to run on
> Google.
>
> Please note that the decisions we make concerning advertising in no way
> affect the search results we deliver.
>
> Please feel free to reply to this email or contact us at
> adwords-support@google.com if you have additional questions or concerns.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Arielle
> The Google AdWords Team
>
>
> —————-
> Publish ads that match your content, help visitors find related products
> and services – and maximize your ad revenue. Visit www.google.com/adsense6
> to learn more.
>
> Original Message Follows:
> ————————
> From: David Tatelman
> Subject: Re: Your Google AdWords Approval Status
> Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2004 11:14:51 -0700
>
> Thank you for your email. I have reviewed the ad and your objections and
> can’t understand what you are referring to. I do not see any mention of
> magic mushrooms, I don’t see any drug paraphernalia mentioned either. I
> will correct the grammatical error you refer to.
>
> Thank you,
> David
>
>
>
> on 8/5/04 2:06 AM, adwords-support@google.com at
> adwords-support@google.com
> wrote:
>
>> Hello,
>>
>> Thank you for advertising with Google AdWords. After reviewing your
>> account, I have found that one or more of your ads or keywords does not
>> meet our guidelines. The results are outlined in the report below.
>>
>> ———————————————-
>> Campaign: ‘Campaign #4,’ Ad Group: ‘shrooms’
>> ———————————————-
>>
>> AD TEXT:
>>
>> Homestead Mushroomkit
>> Guaranteed and includes everything
>> 800-426-6777
>> www.homesteadbook.com
>>
>> Ad Status: Suspended – Pending Revision
>> Ad Issue(s): Restricted Product, Unacceptable Content, Need Appropriate
>> Spacing
>> ~~~~~~~~~
>>
>> KEYWORD(S): mushroom kit, shrooms, spores
>>
>> Keyword Status: Suspended
>> Keyword Issue(s): Unacceptable content as keyword
>> ~~~~~~~~~
>>
>> SUGGESTIONS:
>> -> Ad Content: At this time, Google does not permit websites that
>> use “magic mushroom” in their keywords, text ads, or image ads, or have
>> a significant portion of site content dedicated to this product(s).
>>
>> -> Content: At this time, Google policy does not permit the
>> advertisement of websites that contain “drugs or drug paraphernalia”.
>> As noted in our advertising terms and conditions, we reserve the right
>> to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising we
>> accept on our site.
>>
>> -> Ad Text: Please correct the ungrammatical spacing in the following
>> phrase: “Mushroomkit”
>>
>> -> Keywords: Google policy does not permit the advertisement of “magic
>> mushrooms”. This content is not permitted as ad text or keywords. We
>> have therefore disabled the keyword(s) listed above.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> ———————
>> POLICY DEFINITIONS:
>>
>> Restricted Product: Google believes strongly in freedom of expression
>> and therefore offers broad access to content across the web without
>> censoring search results. Please note that the decisions we make
>> concerning advertising do not affect the search results we deliver.
>>
>> Unacceptable Content: Google believes strongly in freedom of expression
>> and therefore offers broad access to content across the web without
>> censoring search results. Please note that the decisions we make
>> concerning advertising in no way affect the search results we deliver.
>>
>> Need Appropriate Spacing: Your ad text must contain grammatical spacing
>> between words and punctuation.
>>
>> Unacceptable content as keyword: In keeping with Google policy, we do
>> not permit advertisers to use certain content as keywords for their
>> Google AdWords campaigns. Google believes strongly in freedom of
>> expression and therefore offers broad access to content across the web
>> without censoring search results. Please note that the decisions we
>> make concerning advertising in no way affect the search results we
>> deliver.
>>
>>
>> ———————
>>
>> If a keyword has been suspended, it will no longer trigger your ad(s).
>>
>> If an ad has been suspended, you may edit it and save your changes to
>> automatically resubmit the ad for review.
>>
>> For more information about our ad requirements, please read the AdWords
>> Editorial Guidelines at:
>> https://adwords.google.com/select/guidelines.html
>>
>> If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact us at:
>> https://adwords.google.com/support/bin/request.py. We look forward to
>> providing you with the most effective advertising available.
>>
>> Sincerely,
>>
>> The Google AdWords Team
>>
>>