Is it impossible to run a company without buying advertising from Google?

Lyft Inc., the ride-hailing company, spent $92.4 million on Google advertising last year, more than double the amount of two years earlier. That was …

Google controls many of the ways businesses access customers online in the U.S., making it almost impossible to run a company without buying advertising from the internet giant.

As politicians increase scrutiny of large technology companies, Google’s lock on these digital relationships is becoming a potential liability, not just a lucrative advantage praised each quarter by Wall Street analysts.

Presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren outlined a proposal Friday for breaking up Alphabet Inc.’s Google — and Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. — because they have “too much power” and have “bulldozed competition.”

While consumers pay nothing for most Google services, some businesses say they often can’t avoid giving more money to the company because the internet giant is the main source of answers when Americans go online to get information. Google has more than 81 percent of the mobile search market, according to research firm NetMarketShare.

While Facebook matches advertisers with people interested in certain topics, Google can tell what a person really wants, right as that person types their query into the search bar. Showing up at the top of search results is imperative for most companies and in recent years Google has changed its software, especially on smartphones, to make buying ads the best way to achieve that goal.

It’s not possible to run a business without advertising on Google, according to Joey Levin, chief executive officer of IAC/InterActive Corp., which owns internet services like Tinder, HomeAdvisor and Vimeo. He spends about $350 million on advertising every quarter, much of that on Google.

Lyft Inc., the ride-hailing company, spent $92.4 million on Google advertising last year, more than double the amount of two years earlier. That was about 10 percent of its $991 million loss in 2018.

“Google has dominance in search, it’s utterly, completely, dominant,” said Brian Wieser, president of business intelligence for GroupM, the media investment management arm of advertising giant WPP Plc.

The Federal Trade Commission closed an antitrust investigation into Google in 2013 but there’s been a rising chorus of voices on the political left and right demanding Google be cut down to size, somehow.

Nowhere is Google’s power more pervasive — and potentially damaging to businesses — than in the esoteric market for “branded keywords.” This is where businesses buy ads based on their brand names. So Lyft bids on the word “Lyft” and when people search for that, Google runs an ad at the top of results usually linking to the ride-sharing company’s website.

Some businesses say that they have to buy these ads — whatever the cost — because rivals can bid on the keywords too. If Lyft doesn’t pay up, Uber Technologies Inc. is ready to pay Google instead and grab customers. A search for “Lyft” on Friday on a Google Pixel smartphone showed an ad at the top from the company. Right underneath, there was an ad from Uber saying “Your Ride is A Tap Away.”

“You have you buy the ads every day,” said Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow Inc., which sells bedroom items online. “Google gets a piece of every single MyPillow sold and it’s wrong. Why should someone be able to bid on your own brand words and why do you have to buy your own just so people can see you online? That’s wrong.”

In recent years, this pressure has increased because on mobile devices Google search ads show up at the top of the results, rather than on the side of the page with desktop results. This means people are more likely to click on the ads, rather than the free, “organic” links to companies’ websites.

MyPillow’s marketing team has tested not buying Google search ads for “MyPillow,” and the slot is immediately purchased by other businesses, sometimes selling knock-offs on e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon, Lindell said. “We’ve had to bid more to get back on there after we stopped,” he added.

“Limiting the ability to advertise around brand names would restrict competition and make it harder for people searching for one brand of product to make informed decisions by comparing features and prices,” a Google spokesman wrote in an email.

The company has said in the past that it doesn’t break antitrust laws and that competition online is just a click away. Google also regularly stresses that it never accepts payments to be included in or to be ranked higher in organic search results, and doesn’t manipulate search rankings to benefit advertisers.

American Airlines Group Inc. and Rosetta Stone Inc. sued Google years ago over selling their brand names in search ads, arguing the internet giant shouldn’t be allowed to use protected trademarks in this way. Rosetta, a language learning technology provider, lost its case in state court, but it was revived on appeal and Google settled in 2010 for an undisclosed sum, according to Ars Technica.

More recently, companies have tried to work with — or around — Google’s system. Online travel agent TravelPass Group sued a group of leading hotel chains late last year alleging they conspired not to bid on each others’ branded keywords, according to the complaint. The hotels are fighting the suit and the case is ongoing.

Beyond just branded keywords, the cost of all types of Google search ads has been rising at about 5 percent a year, according to Mark Ballard, vice president of research at Merkle, an agency that helps retailers and other companies buy Google ads. That’s well ahead of U.S. inflation, which is running at 1.6 percent currently, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Google search ad prices often surge when the company restricts the growth of supply, and they fall when Google dramatically increases inventory — a sign of strong pricing power. The cost for Google U.S. search ads jumped 13 percent in the first quarter of 2018 and 12 percent in the second quarter as the growth in the number of clicks declined, according to Merkle data.

Many Google advertisers are happy to pay more because the company has so much data that it can target the marketing messages and generate big returns on that spending, said Ballard.

“To the extent that Google has close to a monopoly on this area, they can’t force advertisers to pay more than makes sense,” he added. “Prices have risen, but returns are higher.”

Where that breaks down is in the branded keyword market, Ballard said.

“When it comes to brand keywords, some advertisers will spend beyond what makes sense. These decisions are not as rational,” he added. “That’s a question that comes up when advertisers see costs go up. People are thinking about that and testing it by stopping buying those branded keywords to see what happens.”

Those tests usually result in a decline in traffic, both from search ads and from free, or organic, results, according to Ballard. How big depends on the advertiser. “If you’re a well-known company with a unique name, you will capture organic traffic without buying your own brand keyword on Google,” he said.

For everyone else, they must continue to pay Google.


If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at editors@expresscomputeronline.com

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Google Reportedly Bans ‘Ethereum’ Keyword On Its Advertising Platform

Decenter replied to this, explaining that the firm comprised a group of developers who handle smart contract audits, adding that they had been …

Decenter, a Serbia-based Ethereum startup, has reported that its advertisements on Google are not showing.

The firm, which provides services in smart contracts auditing, states in a tweet posted on January 10, that Google Ads had blacklisted the Ethereum (ETH) keyword.

Google Ads responded via its official account, replying to the Decenter tweet by saying that advertisers could promote crypto exchanges that targeted the United States and Japan on the platform, but that ads targeting other countries may be the reason the startup’s ads got rejected.

Decenter replied to this, explaining that the firm comprised a group of developers who handle smart contract audits, adding that they had been receiving an ‘error message’ whenever they use “ethereum development services” and “ethereum security audits” as keywords.

Google Ads responded to this too, telling the developer group that the Google “wouldn’t be able to preemptively confirm if [the startup’s] keyword is eligible to trigger ads.”

Google’s support team, however, recommended that the group refers to the ‘cryptocurrencies’ section of Google’s policy regarding financial products and services.

Decenter then posted their complaint on Reddit, asking if anyone else in the Ethereum community was experiencing the same thing and whether there had been any changes to the Google Ads policy.

In their open query, the team had noted that any keyword that contained “ethereum” no longer showed in the group’s campaigns. They added:

“The keyphrases such as “ethereum security audits” were simply getting impressions until January 8th and then suddenly stopped, showing only this very ambiguous error as the explanation.”

Screenshot of ETH related error on Google Ads|Source: Decenter tweet, January 10.

The startup further explains on Reddit that they had carried out searches for “ethereum smart contract audits” and “eos smart contract audits”; interestingly noting that only searches about EOS showed ads.

Decenter also notes that the apparent ban does not apply to related words like ‘ico’ bitcoin or eos.

One Reddit user posted a comment that criticizes Google for seemingly not acting impartially. The user notes that the tech giant is bogged down by multiple “political and economic agendas,” and that they willingly “use their various services to promote their preferences.”

” AdSense and Youtube are notorious for this, but there have been some incidents regarding the play store as well.”

Google announced a blanket ban on all crypto-related ads on its platform in March 2018. However, the search engine provider announced in September that it was allowing cryptocurrency related advertising after a change in its policy.

As per the update, the new changes would allow crypto exchange ads targeted for the U.S. and Japan.

Google’s ban on crypto advertising in many other locations will likely not change soon, maybe until the company can finally filter ads that promote crypto-related scams and other fraudulent activities.


Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile assets and are very risky investments. Do your research and consult an investment professional before investing. Never invest more than you can afford to lose. Never borrow money to invest in cryptocurrencies.

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What We Know About Google Ads Allegedly Blacklisting ‘Ethereum’ as a Keyword

Further, when the startup explained that they are a group of developers doing smart contract security audits, and that they were seeing an error …

On Jan. 10, Serbia-based smart contract auditing startup Decenter reported that Google has blacklisted keywords mentioning Ethereum (ETH) on its advertising platform, Google Ads.

Google Ads: We can’t confirm that Ethereum is eligible to trigger ads, see our policy

Specifically, the startup tweeted that they saw “a hard stop” on Google Ads containing the keyword “Ethereum” starting from Jan. 9. Decenter also tagged the advertising platform’s official account in the tweet, asking whether they had introduced any new policy changes.

The Google Ads account then replied, stating that cryptocurrency exchanges targeting the United States and Japan can be advertised on the platform, while targeting other countries could be the reason for the ad rejection. While Decenter is based in Belgrade, Serbia, it does not provide services as a crypto exchange.

Further, when the startup explained that they are a group of developers doing smart contract security audits, and that they were seeing an error message when trying to use “ethereum development services” and “ethereum security audits” as keywords, the official Google Ads account answered that they were not able to preemptively confirm that the “Ethereum” keyword was eligible to trigger ads.

“We’d recommend that you refer to the ‘Cryptocurrencies’ section of our policy on Financial products and services.”

In the referred section of their policy, Google Ads states that “due to the complex and evolving nature of regulations related to cryptocurrencies and related products and services,” the company only allows advertising mining-related services and cryptocurrencies exchanges. The latter is approved for promotion only in Japan and the U.S., however.

The Google Ads guide then explicitly mentions that ads for initial coin offerings (ICOs) and similar services, along with “ad destinations that aggregate or compare issuers of cryptocurrencies or related products” — such as crypto trading signals — are prohibited.

Blanket ban followed by relaxation: Brief introduction to the relationship between Google and crypto

In 2018, after a lengthy period without regulation, Google’s politics regarding cryptocurrencies became significantly stricter. Specifically, on March 14, the search engine giant updated its financial services policy, announcing that it was going to ban all cryptocurrency-related advertising of all types come June.

To justify its crypto ad ban, Google said that it was protecting its customers from fraudulent offerings, including, but not limited to, “initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice.” The company’s executive, Scott Spender, told CNBC at the time:

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution.”

The move was later described as “unfair” and “troubling” by industry insiders. Interestingly, the news of a crypto ad ban came just days after crypto advertisers using Google Adwords reportedly noticed a drastic drop in the number of views of their advertisements. However, as per Finance Magnates, Google Ads had, at that time, denied any change in their financial services regulations that would block cryptocurrency- or ICO-related advertisements.

Further, on Sep. 25, the U.S. tech giant partly backpedalled on its blanket ban of ads. Google announced it was set to update its ad policy in October, reallowing some crypto businesses to advertise on its platform.

According to the official statement, starting in October, Google would allow registered crypto exchanges to advertise on its Google Adwords platform, targeting the U.S. and Japanese audiences:

“Advertisers will need to be certified with Google for the specific country in which their ads will serve. Advertisers will be able to apply for certification once the policy launches in October.”

The cryptocurrency section of the Google Ads’ policy has since been updated, but the precise amount and nature of crypto businesses that have since been allowed to advertise there remains unknown.

Decenter: “Ethereum” keywords isn’t working for other companies too, Google Ads is to provide a definite explanation within 48 hours

After communicating with Google Ads over Twitter, Decenter took to Reddit to ask the r/Ethereum subreddit users about the alleged policy changes. In the post, the team specified that they have tested keywords for “ethereum smart contract audits” and “eos smart contract audits” and found that only the EOS-referenced keyword showed ads.

The community largely reacted by criticizing Google’s position as a neutral third party. The top comment reads:

“Google has various political and economic agendas, and they are quite willing to use their various services to promote their preferences. AdSense and YouTube are notorious for this, but there have been some incidents regarding the Play Store as well.”

Other users mostly cited the previous blanket ban and the abundance of scam projects as potential reasons for Google Ads to prohibit such advertisements. Some users reported having problems with other crypto-related keywords besides “Ethereum.” “I have been unable to use the ‘bitcoin’ (or even ‘blockchain’) on my google ads as well,” one of the comments read.

When reached by Cointelegraph, Decenter CEO Andrej Cvoro said that there are other startups which started having difficulties with the “Ethereum” ad keyword this month:

“We are aware of at least five different competitors that used to have Google Ads shown for search phrases such as ‘Ethereum smart contract audit,’ all of which stopped showing at the same time.”

When asked to clarify the names of the companies allegedly dealing with the same problem, Cvoro replied that he was not able to answer that “with certainty”:

“All we know is that there are other companies that used to have their ads displayed for search phrases such as ‘Ethereum smart contract audits,’ which is no longer the case. Due to the intricacies of Google Ads keyword setting mechanism, this does not necessarily mean that these companies had explicitly entered ‘Ethereum’ as one of their keywords, although there is a good chance that this is the case.”

Thus, according to Cvoro, the ads are still showing for other crypto-related tags, but “Ethereum” does not seem to be working — neither for those companies, nor for Decenter itself. That, the startup’s CEO adds, suggests that Ethereum has indeed been blacklisted:

“For example, ‘X smart contract audit’ phrase will show several different ads for any X, except when X = ‘Ethereum.’ Furthermore, we are currently not able to find a single search phrase involving the term ‘Ethereum’ that shows any ads on Google, which strongly implies that ‘Ethereum’ as a keyword has been blacklisted (intentionally or otherwise).”

Indeed, a Google search for “EOS smart contract audit” seems to bring up a few ads — including Decenter and similar startups — while the search engine does not show any ads when “Ethereum smart contract audit” is googled.

However, Cvoro does not link the blacklisting to the previous Google restrictions regarding crypto-related ads, as his company allegedly did not face such problems with the keyword “Ethereum” even during the time the ban was fully active:

“We don’t think this is directly related to Google’s blanket ban on cryptocurrencies from the last year. That is something that we have been aware from the very beginning of our Google Ads campaign, but none of our ads were directly (and oftentimes not even indirectly) related to cryptocurrencies, so they were going through the manual reviews even when they were initially put on hold by the algorithm. So what is happening now is different in a sense that keywords containing ‘Ethereum’ aren’t passing manual review anymore, which doesn’t seem to be the case for other blockchain-related terms or phrases.”

On Jan. 15, Decenter received an email from the Google Ads team, the company told Cointelegraph. The answer was originally written in Croatian, but the startup has shared their English translation of the brief statement:

“Thank you for sending an inquiry about the status of your Google Ads with key phrases that contain the term ‘Ethereum’ as one of the keywords.

“Due to how sensitive it is to advertise products and/or services related in any way to cryptocurrencies, I have directly contacted the responsible department with a request for a detailed explanation of why your ads are not showing for the mentioned keywords.

Please be patient and I will get back to you with a final solution within 48 hours.”

Cointelegraph will continue to report on the developments of this story further when more information becomes available. Cointelegraph has also reached out to Google for further comment, but the company has not replied as of press time.

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Outrage On Social Media As Ethereum (ETH) Gets Blacklisted On Google Again

A few days ago, as reported by smartereum.com, a Serbia-based Ethereum platform announced that its Google ads that had the keyword, Ethereum …


Last year, due to the prevalence of ICO and cryptocurrency related scams, the biggest search engine in the world, Google, blocked cryptocurrency related ads. Companies that wanted to host ICOs could no longer advertise their products on Google. After a while, the dust settled and Google started allowing a group of reputable companies within the United States and Japan display ads on its platform. However, Google appears to have blacklisted Ethereum as a keyword on its platform.


Google Blacklists Ethereum


The attack on the cryptocurrency community at this time isn’t directed to the entire market but to the third largest cryptocurrency per market capitalization, Ethereum. A few days ago, as reported by smartereum.com, a Serbia-based Ethereum platform announced that its Google ads that had the keyword, Ethereum weren’t displaying.


Yesterday, the blockchain platform, Decenter announced that Google has blacklisted ads related to Ethereum from its advertisement network. The post on Reddit was as follows:


“Google has several economic and political agendas and they are always willing to use their services to promote their preferences. YouTube and AdSense are well known for this. Recently, some incidents were reported on the play store as well. Even with their ‘do no evil motor’, they are willing to use their power to influence, economic and political matters.”

This time, Google is being accused of blacklisting Ethereum for the no apparent reasons. According to the post from Decenter, Google denied making any changes to their ad policies. The post continued:


Ethereum (ETH) Price Today – BTC / USD

Name Price 24H (%)

ethereum
Ethereum(ETH)

$118.03


“We have been using Adwords for over six months now and it has given our smart contact auditing services more visibility. Recently, we noticed a few changes in the display. It appears Google has completely blacklisted the keyword: Ethereum. Ads with this keyword are no longer displaying.”


When the team tried to contact Google regarding the issue, the giant claimed that it had not changed anything about its advertising policies. Even with what they claim, the fact remains that Ethereum ads have not been displaying on the search engine since the 8th of January 2019. The smart contract platform added:

“We believe that Google is particularly targeting Ethereum for reasons we aren’t sure of yet. We wanted to see if, as a community, we can pressure Google to adjust their keyword policies or explain why they decided to blacklist Ethereum.”


Members of the cryptocurrency community have been urged to search Google for EOS Smart contract audits and Ethereum smart contract audits to confirm if Google has blacklisted ads related to Ethereum smart contracts.


Ethereum (ETH) Price Analysis


Ethereum is currently trading in green at $128.70. It is up by 8.23% against the USD and up by 5.0% against Bitcoin. The trading volume over a 24 hour period is $2,734,188,204 and the market capitalization is $13,434,356,293. The minor bullish rally may have been ignited by the Ethereum Constantinople fork that’s scheduled to take place tomorrow, the 16th of January 2019. It’s still early to determine if the price action will be affected negatively or positively by the upgrade. The next few days will determine if the price action will change or not.

Google Allegedly Blacklists Ethereum Related Advertisements

Decenter, an Ethereum Startup alleges that Google has banned advertisements featuring the keyword, “Ethereum.” The company revealed this on …
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Decenter, an Ethereum Startup alleges that Google has banned advertisements featuring the keyword, “Ethereum.” The company revealed this on Twitter and Reddit on January 9, stating that adverts ran on Google Adwords containing the keyword are not displaying. This has sparked the interest of crypto enthusiasts on Reddit and the industry as a whole.

Decenter’s Advert Containing Ethereum Keyword is Stopped

Based on the company’s claims, they had been running adverts on Adwords for the past six months, not until these ads stopped receiving impressions on January 8. New campaigns which the company also tried to publicize returned an error message: “An ad isn’t showing now, this candidate is not permitted to show ads in your targeted location.”

Decenter, then conducted a test to ascertain if this was a general issue with keywords related to the cryptocurrency industry. They discovered that this blockage only affects the Ethereum keyword given that ads launched with words like ICO, EOS, and Bitcoin went live. Therefore, the Startup concluded that the U.S. company had blocked the use of the keyword, Ethereum.

Crypto Exchanges Can Only Target the U.S. and Japan

While commenting on Decenter’s allegations on Twitter, Google Ads said advertisers could only promote virtual currency exchanges that target the U.S. and Japan. As such, targeting other regions could have been the reason why Decenter’s advert was inactive.

Decenter responded by saying that they are a team of developers offering smart contract security audits. They added that the error message was only encountered when keywords like “Ethereum security audits” and “Ethereum development services” were inputted. Google, on the other hand, said they were unable to confirm if this was why their ads were inactive and they referred them to their ‘Cryptocurrencies’ section.

Google Banned Crypto Related Advertisements in 2018

In March 2018, Google blocked cryptocurrency adverts and attributed it to the fact that a lot of people were scammed. However, some companies could run these ads from September 2018 given that the ban was partially lifted. The search engine giant at that time said all cryptocurrency ads would undergo strict evaluation and only ads of a particular nature will be active.

BTCNN on July 27 reported that the Canadian-based company banned cryptocurrency mining apps on the Android Play store. This was after they had announced the launch of Blockchain services on its cloud platform. Despite the ban, a report from August 29 reveals that some mining apps are still active and downloadable from Playstore.

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