Greg Hoffman



Google and the Cigar Debate

Google warned me but I didn't believe them. Now I do.

For the last six months, I've been managing the SEM tasks for Cafe Belmondo. We took the middle man agency out so we could maximize profits and really get aggressive. It was working great until I got greedy.

Around November, I started tinkering with ads through the same account to drive traffic to CigarBlog101 and instantly we saw an increase in sales through non-trademark cigar and humidor terms. Every once in a while an ad would be disapproved so I would tweak it and go on with business. However, in January, the disapprovals started more frequently. About two weeks ago, I received a nasty letter from Google adsense to stop placing ads for cigars. On the same day, they granted me permission to buy trademark ads for Thompson Cigar so I tried my luck one more time.

Last Wednesday I signed in to my Adsense accout to see the dreadful words...
This account has been cancelled. This account was cancelled on Feb 12, 2007. It will not be possible for you to reactivate your account.

Oops. There goes my Cafe Belmondo ads. I had a new account open within the hour and rebuilt all of my coffee ads but now I'm stuck on probation and they only gave me a daily budget of $10. Hopefully, by Monday the accounts will be back to normal.

What is the Google/Cigar debate?
Only sites that sell less than 30% tobacco products can advertise. That's why my affiliates can sell humidors and accessories. But my CigarBlog101 was too much for the Google gods.
Here's an explanation of what happened.

Thank you for your email regarding your request for clarification of our policy. 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.

Google AdWords reserves the right to refuse to run certain ads or categories of ads on a case-by-case basis. We do not permit ads for cigars, or tobacco products. However, we understand that you offer other products. We are able to run your ad on Google as long as you are not directly advertising cigars, or tobacco products.

Was I wrong? Absolutely!
Is Google wrong? Absolutely!

Will I ever disobey Google again? NEVER....

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Blogger Eric Wettstein said...

I discovered the tobacco ad policy at Google adwords today. I was just trying to get a local cigar shop setup.

Google has every right to limit what people can advertise for whatever reason. They don't have to take anyone's money. We'll find some other place to advertise. It won't be targeted to people searching for cigars. Bad for us. Bad for people who aren't looking for cigars. There the ones who will be exposed to information about a cigar store.

2:58 PM  

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