Alastair’s Place

Software development, Cocoa, Objective-C, life. Stuff like that.

Google Adwords and Trademarks

My company uses Google Adwords to advertise its products. Adwords is quite good and had until recently been working well for us. Until, that is, some cretin at Google Ireland (who are responsible for Adwords in Europe) decided that, in the EMEA, they would no longer run any advert containing a third-party trademark.

Now, the products my company makes are disk utilities (specifically, a partioning tool and a disk defragmenter). If I remove all mention of the words Mac, Tiger and Apple, then Google will run our ads again. Which will be clicked on by 100 million PC owners, costing me more money, and wasting their time. They will also not be obvious to the Mac owners we are trying to target.

Google, when they came up with this idea, did realise that some people would be licensed to use other peoples’ trademarks, so they provided a mechanism to allow this. The mechanism is that the trademark owner must fax Google with a statement that the advertiser is allowed to use their trademarks.

But, of course, there are lots of people in Europe (or outside of Europe) who want to advertise Mac software using Google. And a lot of them are licensed to use the word Mac. So Apple, understandably, aren’t keen on sending thousands of faxes to Google to resolve this problem.

So I tried to find a telephone number for Google Ireland. They make it quite difficult, but if you look around enough on the web, you’ll find that Google Ireland’s phone number is +353 1 436 1000. None of their menu options seemed to fit, so I pressed zero for the receptionist. Who wasn’t there.

Then I sent an e-mail, which I imagine will be replied to using a stock answer, and otherwise ignored. 10 out of 10 for customer service so far.

I hadn’t completely given up on speaking to somebody about this yet, so I tried the phone again. This time I got through to the receptionist (yay!), but I was told that there was nobody I could speak to about Adwords, although yes, Google Ireland were in charge of Adwords in Europe, but no, I couldn’t speak to whoever was responsible for it. Instead, I could use e-mail. Could the receptionist give them a message for me, I asked, hopefully? No, apparently even their receptionist can do nothing but send e-mail.

Fact is that unless Google sort themselves out soon, we’re going to stop using them. It isn’t acceptable to simply pull your customers’ adverts, without warning, for using trademarks that many of us are actually licensed to use, and then expect a third party in another country to expend significant time and effort faxing Google to resolve the problem that Google have created.

I used to think Google only employed intelligent people. Apparently I was wrong.

Update: There’s a post on TidBits covering the same kind of problem, as well as more on MacSlash and even more elsewhere.

It looks like it might have been partly Apple’s fault (apparently they have filed a complaint about their trademarks in Google ads, and have since withdrawn at least a part of it). I have to say that Apple gave me the impression it was Google’s fault.