Google Blogoscoped

Thursday, October 25, 2007

AdSense Disallowed On URLs Containing "Google", Google Says

Google informed me that they banned showing AdSense from my account on (a site which I don’t run, but they are nice enough to rotate my AdSense code every couple of times as they’re translating posts from here). They pointed to a specific sample page in their notice which contains photos I shot at the Google Hamburg office (including a photo showing the Google logo, with permission from Google).

Asking Google support why specifically AdSense is not allowed on Chinese Google Blogoscoped they didn’t mention that photo, but instead replied (my emphasis):

Publishers are not permitted to make prominent use of “Google Brand Features” on sites showing Google ads. Google Brand Features include Google logos, product screenshots, or other distinctive features. Additionally, publishers may not place Google ads on sites incorporating Google trademarks in the site URL or on sites that frame Google pages, including search results pages. Which means in your case that the word “google” in the URL is not okay for showing ads, hence we had to deactivate serving to the site.

Also, Ionut Alex. Chitu’s blog Google Operating System – an unofficial blog, but one that uses the URL – got AdSense-banned for the second time... even though Ionut already went through a “re-inclusion” process once, and his blog got approved before. Now he’s experiencing deja vu, and he’s not getting back any reply to his questions so far – guilty until proven innocent.

Google in their general (non-AdSense related) trademark guidelines state that it’s OK with them if you use the word “Google” provided you...

... distinguish the trademark from the surrounding text in some way. Capitalize the first letter, capitalize or italicize the entire mark, place the mark in quotes, use a different type style or font for the mark than for the generic name.

(Google’s trademarks guidelines have a lot of rules – like “Don’t frame or mirror any Google page,” something which they do with every page you click on in Google image search results! – and also mention: “One of the conditions for all uses is that you can’t mess around with our marks. Only we get to do that.”)

Further than requiring capitalization, Google also suggests to use the TM letters in superscript next to their name. How any of this is applicable to URLs, on the other hand, which just don’t contain any rich text formatting, I don’t know. The trademark guidelines also contain the bit “Don’t register Google trademarks as second-level domain names” though there is no mention of sub-domains, which are third-level domains.

Why does Google even cross-connect departments’ needs when there is no real connection? What does the Google trademark/ legal department have to do with AdSense, except of course AdSense being another way to pressure webmasters (by including special AdSense ToS or else your AdSense revenues are stopped)? Is there a difference to Google telling you “we penalized your site’s PageRank because you used the Google trademark in an inappropriate way"?

Update: Ionut’s blog at was unbanned for AdSense, opposing AdSense support’s earlier statement “the word ’google’ in the URL is not okay for showing ads.” Google should really make up their mind what’s allowed and what’s not, and then apply these same rules for everyone.

Update 2: is allowed back in, and apparently the AdSense department now has new mechanisms in place to differentiate between scammers using Google in the URL, and legit sites doing so.


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