Update on 7 May 2007.
Thanks to Dominic from DGMAustralia for some clarification.
- DGMAustralia has been contracted by Dell AU for their search engine marketing work, therefore has permission to use “Dell” trademark on Google AdWords.
- TheDeal.net.au, a publisher/affiliate partner of DGMAustralia, also has written permission from Dell to use the trademark.
For the past few weeks I have been posting some real Dell deals at OzBargain, including coupons that give you $150 off business/professional systems and 3% to 10% off regular price (btw, both of them have expired yesterday). So I said to myself, “hey, maybe it would be good if more people can know about these deals”!
Being a good and moral person (yes, trust me, it is true!) plus lack of knowledge in any dodgy black hat way of getting cheap traffic (okay, that is the main reason), I decided to go with what has been recommended by the big G — buying Google AdWords advertisements! So I went there, created a small text ads saying “Save on Dell Products”, added a list of keywords that I wish my ads would appear on, crossed my fingers and waited. And waited… A few days later — still no impression nor clicks.
Then yesterday morning I received an email from Google, saying that my ads has been disapproved because I have placed a trademark term, i.e. Dell, in my AdWords ads!
Fair enough. I can understand where Google is coming from, and they have every right to ensure trademark law is not violated in the advertisements. So I simply delete that ads and move on.
Until I tried to search the same keywords on Google. Search Dell Deal on Google Australia for example. Right in my face are two sponsored links at the spot where you normally expect to see AdWords ads.
Alright, the second entry is obviously violating the same rule that I have broken, using trademark terms in ads! The word “dell” appeared on both the title and the description. That website not only lists Dell computers, but also Apple and Sony computers plus lots of credit card offers. As of the Dell computers listed, the “Go to Deal” button looks a bit dodgy (more about it later). Once you click through, you will be redirected back to Dell Australia’s website. Discount? None at all! It gives you exactly the same price as Dell’s regular specials.
Good deal? Don’t think so.
Now, go back to the list of sponsored links returned by Google. Is the first sponsored link using trademark terms in ads? Not if it is indeed Dell Australia advertising on Google! See — it has www.dell.com.au listed as URL! However, is it really Dell Australia advertising on Google?
To check the actual landing location, assuming you are using Firefox:
- Right click on the link “Dell Deal” to bring out context menu
- Select “Copy Link Location”
- Open notepad.exe, and paste the copied text into notepad
- The actual URL should be following
If you see what I am seeing, the landing location is NOT www.dell.com.au as claimed in the ads, but an affiliation link from an Internet marketing company! That means, when you click on that link to go to Dell, (1) you will not land on a special page with exclusive promotions (2) someone will get commission for that Dell that you have just purchased. How much commission? 1.5 to 3 percent! Now if you go back to that other site on the sponsored link list, all its “Go to Deal” links, including Apple deals, Sony deals, credit card deals, etc — they are all affiliated links as well!
That is a blatant violation of Dell trademark if you ask me!
Am I annoyed that Google disapproved my ads but approved someone else’s? Yes! But maybe I am such a cheapstake because I am only willing to pay 10 ¢ per click on search network and 4 ¢ on content network! Google must have thought that even the electricity used to generate these ads would cost more. Well, anyway…
Am I annoyed that someone would get a commission without providing any service? Yes and no. I am still going to pay the same amount regardless whether I have that affiliation tracking cookie in my browser. It is not that I am going to pay more for a Dell computer because I was referred there. However I do feel cheated after I click through the ads without finding any real deals.
What I find annoying is that some cashback/moneyback communities like MoneyBackCo do not get approved by the affiliation network to access these Dell commissions. Otherwise we will see an all year round 1.5-3% cashback on all Dell products — and that’s what I will call the Dell Deal.