Another Win for Firefox Users

We just want to give an appreciative acknowledgment to Google AdWords for a recent change to their policy regarding display URL’s.  While we’re most excited about how this rule change is a big win for most businesses and all consumers, we thought it might be interesting to describe the impact from Mozilla’s perspective.  In short, other advertisers are no longer able to show ads that display something like “” or “” as their domain (then redirecting to their actual site).

Why does this matter?  The example below, captured a couple months ago, provides a powerful illustration.  Neither of those two ads on the right-hand side belongs to Mozilla (nor are sending clickers our way)!  An advertiser was previously able to list anything they desired as the URL displayed and then send the consumer to a completely different, unrelated web site.  The process, from the consumer’s perspective, was non transparent, and in extreme cases, could be dangerous.

And here’s a close-up:

Please note: we’re always happy to see affiliates helping with the distribution of Firefox; we’d just prefer that other advertisers not use our actual domains (e.g., in their ads (when those ads are not actually directing users to Mozilla’s sites).

What’s remarkable here is that Google may take a revenue hit as a result of this change.  I’m guessing they made this decision because it’s clearly in the best interest of consumers and because it’s the right thing to do.  It’s always enlightening to see a company put the interest of users ahead of the interest of shareholders.

6 responses

  1. Tomer Cohen wrote on :

    Well, I guess Google did put that enforcement because users have complain too much about websites pretends to be others. I must admit I have filed the complain form for some times in order to get rid of these sites pretending to be official Mozilla websites.

  2. Jesse Ruderman wrote on :

    I just searched Google for “firefox” and got an ad going to but labeled as going to Is this policy not yet being enforced properly?

  3. Justin Wood (Callek) wrote on :

    “It’s always enlightening to see a company put the interest of users ahead of the interest of shareholders.”

    I agree with the whole of your post, but assuming google is publically traded (I think it is), don’t they have a *legal* obligation to put the interests of their shareholders first?

    Though I would hate to see them go back on this move here, perhaps they do see it as beneficial to their shareholders (more people might use adsense on their sites if the integrity of the ads is better too).

  4. Amsterdammer wrote on :

    Try different national Google searchplugins from, and u will get still ads (for instance Dutch Google searchplugin).

  5. kkovash wrote on :

    Jesse: good question. The new policy applies to all *new* ads. So, if another advertiser has previously been using something like as their display URL, they can continue to do so. We are currently going through the trademark process with AdWords to resolve further issues such as this.

  6. Frank T wrote on :

    I’m glad that Google did this. However, I think it’s pretty naive to claim they are doing this “because it’s the right thing to do”. It’s more likely that, in this case, the interests of shareholders and users coincide.

    Why would shareholders care about fraudulent URLs? Because it’s fraud! I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect that this move was suggested by one. Getting taken to court for fraud is not good for the bottom line.