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Friday, August 29, 2008

Google Cuts Off Forestle

Based in Germany and apparently launched just this month, Forestle is a search engine using Google’s Custom Search program. On their homepage they say, “Save 0.1 yd² of rainforest with each search you do at Forestle. So far we have already saved 25,024.6 yd² of rainforest!” Now when you do a search, the result shows a “Forbidden” message from Google, and above it Forestle prints this message:

Google ended partnership with Forestle!

Dear Forestle user,

We just received an email from Google in which they announced the end of the partnership with Forestle. They said that we offered “incentives to click artificially on sponsored links” and that this was not compliant with their policies..

Well, we don’t agree with that!

We displayed a note at the top of the Forestle result page that says “only click on Google sponsored links if you are really interested in them”. Also we saved 0.1 m² per search and not per click! So where did we offer incentives to click on ads?

In our opinion Google ended the partnership, because Forestle became too successful

Another note above that message reads, “Please only click on Google sponsored links if you are really interested in them. You harm Forestle, Google and the advertising websites with artificial clicking.” (I’m not sure since when notes like these have been added to the site.) Forestle says all of their income “minus administrative costs” goes to The Nature Conservancy initiative. While Forestle claims they save “0.1 m² per search and not per click”, on their explanations page they say “Forestle earns advertising revenue from clicks on ’sponsored links’”. (I asked Google for a comment and will update this post should they reply with information.)

[Via GoogleWatchBlog.]

Update: Google in their comment points to the program policies and says, “Forestle was in violation of our terms of service. When we are made aware of a potential policy violation, our team of specialists will manually review the site to make sure it abides by our program policies. In this case we have stopped serving ads to Forestle.”


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