Google To Update Policy Regarding Software Download Ads

Jennie Scholick Mar 24, 2015

One of the major takeaways from both editions of BrandVerity’s Branded Keywords Report has been that Download & Toolbar sites, which bundle free versions of software with other products, such as toolbars, malware, or adware, are a major problem for software technology companies. In fact, in our study covering Q4 2014, nine of the top 10 advertisers on branded technology terms were Download sites.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t news to us, as we’ve written about the issue at length on this very blog, in posts such as Software Bundlers Target Firefox—Is This Trademark Abuse and Advertisers Brand Bidding on Social Media Sites’ Logins. These kinds of sites are terrible for consumers and brands in that they both dilute brand image and place unwanted software on consumers’ devices.

Luckily, some good news for brands and consumers concerning download sites came out on Monday. Wesley Brandi of iPensatori brought our attention to an upcoming change to Google’s advertising policies regarding free desktop downloads. On his blog he published an email he received from Google AdWords reading, in part:

Around late April, the Google AdWords policy on unsupported content will change to include additional requirements related to free desktop software downloads....After this change, you won’t be allowed to promote free desktop software unless the ad explicitly names the promoted software and leads to the designated primary distribution source for the software.

If you advertise free desktop software, please make sure that your ads and landing pages meet the following standards:

— The ad includes the promoted software’s name

— The ad directs to a landing page on the site that’s designated as the software’s primary distribution source

As Brandi points out, this change has the potential to significantly reduce the number of these sites advertising on Google--a big win for both brands and consumers! We hope that other search ad networks will follow, dramatically reducing consumers’ exposure to these ads. We’ll also make sure to examine this closely in upcoming releases of our Branded Keywords report.
We love starting the week with good news and hope you’re as excited about this as we are! If you have any questions or concerns--or are wondering if download sites are bidding on your search terms--contact us in the comments below or at BrandVerity.

Topics: paid search, Search Engine Updates

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