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‘Absolutely unacceptable’: Business fury over Google ad policy

This includes an increase in businesses in the IT sector saying their ads are being rejected by Google, Ms Carnell said.

In August 2018, Google confirmed in a blog post it would be restricting ads from “third party technical support providers” because it was “increasingly difficult to separate the bad actors from the legitimate providers”.

Our business has dropped, quite markedly. We’re at a severe disadvantage.

MD Computers owner Colin Peckover.

Businesses that offer computer repairs say they only noticed their ads being rejected over the past few months and few details are provided when the ads are knocked back.

Sunshine Coast business owner Colin Peckover said he had lost about $15,000 in revenue over the past quarter and believes it is because ads for his business, MD Computers, have been rejected.

“Our business has dropped quite markedly. We’re at a severe disadvantage,” Mr Peckover said.

MD Computers is able to advertise its computer products and accessories, though any ads mentioning computer repairs have received an “ad disapproved” email from Google.

Colin Peckover (middle) and staff at MD Computers.

Colin Peckover (middle) and staff at MD Computers.

“The amount of control we have over this would be zero. Let’s face it, it’s Google or no one,” Mr Peckover said.

Ms Carnell said she was concerned by the lack of details when an ad is rejected, as well as the idea that a platform such as Google could decide to restrict ads from a whole sector of businesses.

“We haven’t got any reasoning, and it’s actually quite hard to talk to them . We’ve sought feedback, but have not had a great deal of response.”

When contacted for comment, Google Australia referred the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to blog posts explaining that computer repairers would have ads restricted.

“We’ve seen a rise in misleading ad experiences stemming from third-party technical support providers and have decided to begin restricting ads in this category globally. For many years, we’ve consulted and worked with law enforcement and government agencies to address abuse in this area,” director of global product policy at Google, David Graff said in the statement last year.

The rules apply to “technical support for troubleshooting, security, virus removal, internet connectivity, online accounts (for example, password resets or login support), or software installation”, according to the company’s advertising policies.

Google Australia declined to comment further on the issue.

In 2018, Google said it would develop a verification process for computer repairers though this has not been finalised.

A spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the watchdog was “aware of the broader concerns that have been raised”.

However, it noted businesses were allowed to set specific terms and conditions for the supply of services provided this complied with the Competition and Consumer Act.

“A refusal to supply goods or services will only raise concerns when there is a substantial lessening of competition, or in circumstances where the refusal to supply goods and services is unconscionable,” the spokesperson said.

On Tuesday, ACCC chair Rod Sims signalled his agency had five investigations into Facebook and Google underway.

In a speech on Tuesday, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the commission has investigations underway into Google and Facebook.

In a speech on Tuesday, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the commission has investigations underway into Google and Facebook. Credit:Eamon Gallagher

The watchdog’s digital platforms report, released last month, recommended an inquiry into competition in online advertising and advertising technology spaces.

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