More on AdWords’ nitpicking

Update, 5:53 p.m.: I’ve just heard from Google’s Alan Davidson and will not be calling the FTC tomorrow. As a shareholder, I’m rooting for Google to get to the bottom of what happened.  – D.R.

imageIf my AdWords hassles are not just an isolated screw-up, Google deserves a tough antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.  I’ve left word with Alan Davidson, the Google lobbyist in Washington, to see if the AdWords people are interpreting some Google linking policies policies correctly. The Solomon Scandals site includes tens of thousands of words of one-of-a-kind content and has drawn links from places such as MediaGazer. Why is Google treating like a spam gateway?

imageOh, the ironies. In Scandals I wrote about old-media monopolies. Google apparently has the arrogance of a new one, at least if it won’t back down. The irony is that I agree with Google’s anti-spam efforts—but here we perhaps are in anti-trust territory, morally if not legally. Look, I’ve exchanged a bunch of e-mails with AdWords, so it isn’t as if I haven’t given the company the benefit of the doubt even now. And, yes, without questions, links and original content are the issues with the actual AdWords evaluators even though the Google sales rep said he loved the site. Is Google encouraging evaluators to nitpick in cases like mine? I think so based on my experiences so far.

Amusingly, the YouTube image—full video here, with his comments around 19 minutes from the start—shows Davidson testifying with others for “Global free expression” on the Internet. What about mine? Google is the biggest advertising conduit on the World Wide Web. If Google disses small-fry like me, it’ll weak its case with government regulators.

I’m a fast-forgiver, though, and will update this item if Alan Davidson and colleagues wise up. I love Google’s better side—for example, its green initiatives—and hope Davidson and others at the company will do the right thing and ask AdWords to reverse itself.

If I don’t hear from the Washington office by 6 p.m. Eastern today, I’ll track down the FTC staffers investigating Google for anti-trust and perhaps offer to be an exhibit. In addition, I may want to take this up with the media. I’m a Google shareholder and just might sell—since this is a possible test of whether Google is as much of an anti-trust risk as its detractors say.

imageGoogle’s mistreatment of me comes at an awkward time for the company, beyond the anti-trust investigation. It is encouraging us all to centralize our social networking lives around Google+. But how trustworthy is Google if it treats a legitimate site like dirt, just because the owner has links to Amazon and others competing with Google in areas such as books and cloud services? Is this the outfit we want to store our irreplaceable data?

OK. I’m angry. You’d be, too. But let’s see what Google says and does. Maybe this is a snafu just like the one that closed down William Shatner’s Google+ account for a short time.

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David Rothman

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