Imagine if the most powerful Internet company — one that handles 100 billion searches for information a month — prohibited everyone except for the world’s largest e-commerce store to advertise for a specific product. What would that look like? It would look like this.
Above is a screenshot for the search term “throwing knives,” one of our most popular categories at Knife Depot.
We used to to run Google AdWords for throwing knives, but in May, Google turned off all ads for the search term “throwing knives” after they designated it a weapon. Obviously, we disagreed with such a characterization, but weren’t surprised, as in March Google had prohibited all ads for “Assisted Opening Knives” and canceled our entire AdWords account because we sold completely legal spring-assisted knives.
We were eventually reinstated on AdWords, but now for the second time Google has banned our ads for specific products, while Amazon continues to advertise for those products. And it doesn’t end with throwing knives either. Who’s currently running ads for the term “assisted- opening knives?”
Yeah, you guessed, Amazon is in the house, joined by Walmart and Cabella’s. It’s a mega-brand menage-a-trois, with poor Knife Depot relegated to the sideline.
If you looked a year ago, there would have been probably close to a dozen sites advertising for this term. Now, it seems that Google has managed to successfully eliminate all advertisers except for their big-spending compadres.
Why does Google Apply Its Adwords Policy Unfairly?
That’s a fantastic question and one that your pals at Knife Depot have asked ad nauseum to AdWords support staff over the last year. Over hundreds of emails, Google has rarely countered our claims that they are favoring big brands. In fact, in one email this spring a customer service representative affirmed our point:
“I am still waiting on an answer to my reply where I asked for a universal enforcement of the policy OR we allow knife depot back online. I replied and said, I refuse to tell knife-depot they need to remove a product category that 7 other competitors are advertising & selling the same products. I then named each domain, called out the double standard, and requested that they state the clear differences that allows these competitors to serve & knife depot to be suspended. Still waiting on this reply.“
Google’s AdWords support staff is an intractable bureaucracy that makes decisions based on policy edicts that they seemingly have no power to influence or change. Clearly, one huge element of that policy is to never take down ads or suspend the accounts of big-spending AdWords partners. Continue reading