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Dropbox Referrals with Google Adwords

November 02, 2011 | 3 Minute Read

I read a tweet from someone a while back about how they used Google Adwords to max out their Dropbox referral disk space. I thought this was a clever hack and decided to try it for myself. I made a new Adwords account and entered a coupon code from Dreamhost for $75 in free Adwords money.

I ran into a few issues with my first ads. They were running okay in the beginning, but were getting shot down in the review process for trademark issues. I couldn’t figure out why this was the case, since I had seen multiple blog posts describing how to set up the ads with no mention of trademark issues. I tried a few tweaks, and removed “Mac” from the copy of my ads, thinking that the word might have triggered the trademark issue.

The first set of ads without “Mac” in them ended up getting approved, and I was on the fast track to Dropbox space gluttony. Here’s a screenshot of what my campaign looked like (until I stopped it because I maxed out on referrals):

Things looked like smooth sailing and I think I only used something like $20 worth of credit (though I could’ve easily optimized for spend, I kinda wanted to finish more quickly, so I set my cpcs aggressively). I was gonna change the ads and open it up for friends to get referral space, too.

Then yesterday, with no warning, I got an email that my account had been suspended. There wasn’t really any good explanation for this. When I look at my account, it says:

Your Google AdWords account has been permanently suspended for repeated violation of AdWords or Landing Page and Site policies in this or a related account.


Your Google AdWords account has been permanently suspended because your billing information in this or a related account could not be verified.

I’m not sure I could come up with a more vague message. So far, Google Adwords email support has been of no use at all. I first got an email saying they were “escalating” the matter, which probably just means they didn’t get around to it within 24 hours so they had to send something, then I got a generic form email saying that:

After reviewing your account, it has come to our attention that your Google AdWords accounts do not comply with our Terms and Conditions. As a result, your account, and any related accounts you may have created, have been suspended, and your ads will no longer run on Google.

Well no shit, that really doesn’t tell me anything new! The best tidbit of the email was that:

– For privacy reasons, AdWords Support is unable to provide any additional information regarding this account.

You know, in case I find something out about myself that I didn’t know… It’s my account!

If I did something wrong to get banned, I sure would like to know why. Since I don’t, I feel like I’m in the customer support limbo that is synonymous with “Google Support” which is already an oxymoron of sorts.

Anyway, TL;DR I used Adwords to max out my Dropbox referrals like many have before, got the banhammer from Google and now their customer support is atrocious (as expected).