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Spotted: Stunning AdWords Policy Violations That Facebook & Google Shouldn’t Be Happy About
Behold a brilliant display of Google AdWords advertising policy violations:
This ad was spotted by Luke Alley from Avalaunch Media. As it turns out, Alley unearthed a deep pit teeming with ad violations.
Search for “facebook support” on Google, and you’ll quickly see the ads are crawling with AdWords policy violations.
The ad above features “Symbols, numbers, and letters that don’t adhere to their true meaning or purpose” with the @ symbol in the headline and ad copy; a phone number gets into the ad copy (against policy since call extensions rolled out) apparently by using that @ symbol and Os instead of 0s.
Here is an ad I found when searching for “facebook support” that also uses Os instead of 0s to get a phone number in the ad — this time in the headline — even though it also has a call extension. Notice Facebook’s trademarked brand name in the subdomain-jammed display URL (You won’t see it used in any actual ad copy.):
This next ad inserts both a phone number and Facebook trademark brand name in the display URL. Also, display URL has 38 characters instead of the 35 character limit:
Things aren’t any better on mobile. There are phone numbers throughout the ad copy and (long) display URLs. The second ad below might be the winner. It has a click-to-call phone number in the headline, a call extension (the Call button) and yet another phone listing in the ad after the ad copy. I can’t quite tell what’s happening in the copy. Including the phone number line, the ad copy is 90 characters long. Is “1800-909-2298 tollfree” somehow displaying through an extension?
The flagrant ad policy violations aren’t just from companies hocking “Facebook support”. They’re also spamming ads for “Google support” and “Gmail support”. Here’s a look at ads appearing on a Google search for “gmail support”. Again, phone numbers appear in ad copy and in subdomain-packed display URLs.
Beyond the ad violations there is a consumer online safety issue here as well. The ads are ads pitching “login/password support,” which raise huge, waving privacy red flags. One claims services from a “FB certified technician,” a certification that doesn’t exist. Yes, these types of “technical services” has been around since tech entered our lives, but that these companies are able to promote bogus services and violate AdWords policy so blatantly while doing so is still shocking.
I did not click on any of these ads, but did call two of the numbers on ads promoting Facebook tech services. One had an automated message saying “Thank you for calling technical support,” then put me on hold for several moments before I hung up. The customer service representative who answered my next call said their “systems are down” and that he would call me back on my number. He then called from a Palmdale, CA area number. He said, yes, they could help me get my password back from Facebook. When asked how, he explained they have “technical teams for that and there is a charge for that service”. He then hung up. And he has my number.
Update: A Google spokesperson says they are currently reviewing and disabling ads that may violate its AdWords policies.