Google search

No means no

| In May I wrote about my experiment with Google AdWords Express, with a follow-up about how quickly Google managed to run up charges for the ads using a black-box formula to calculate the value of each search keyword. Here's a new gotcha!

My ad is for a website design business that I run out of my home office, so when I created my ad I specifically chose not to have my phone number included in the ad. First, I don't really want a lot of business. Second, I don't want to get calls from people who haven't even bothered to look at my website to see what I offer.

But a strange thing has started to happen: the phone will ring and it will be someone calling my business. In a couple of cases I've asked how they got my number, and the answer has always been, "I looked you up on Google." Hmmm.

Search ad

Whenever I've previewed my ad I have always seen the ad I created (left): name of the business, URL, short description. AdWords Express requires you to be terse, since only 4 short lines of text are allowed.

So how are they getting my number? Granted, there are several ways an enterprising person could find it out, but most internet users are not particularly enterprising when it comes to that sort of thing. Well, it's true!

I got another cold call this afternoon so I decided that I would figure this out, once and for all. I went to my Google AdWords Express account, and clicked on Manage. There was my ad as you see above.

But then I noticed something new (maybe I just had not paid attention before):

4 types of ad

It seems that Google creates three additional forms of your ad! Which you would never see unless you clicked on the subtle "View this in a page" link.


Here are the other three kinds of ads:

Mobile search ad
Mobile search ad
Display network ad
Display network ad
Map search ad
Map search ad

Oh, wonderful!

Can you say "violation of privacy"?  I immediately fired off an angry email to Google — the word "outrageous" was used emphatically — and paused the ad campaign.

I understand that a brick-and-mortar business would love to have people know the exact location. But people who have a home business certainly don't want strangers ringing the doorbell at all hours. Nor do I want to get phone calls from people who have not done their homework.

I await with interest Google's response.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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