Google AdWords

December 13th, 2017
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Like virtually every online business, fotoLibra spends a small fortune with Google AdWords. We’re supposed to be able to target our market with laser-like precision.

Our market is picture editors, picture researchers and picture buyers, the only segment of the population who never use Google searches, or so it would seem.

We’ve been on Google AdWords courses to work out how best we can deploy this undoubtedly potent tool to best advantage, and we’ve learned about Negative Keywords, and the Search Terms which trigger clicks to our website, and lots of other hard stuff.

fotoLibra has a fairly simple business premise: we license image rights. So all we have to do is to tell people that’s what we do and that we have over a million wonderful images for them to choose from. They’ll flock to us.

Recently we checked our Search Terms. This lets you see precisely what people type before they get shown our ads, and when they click on them, we get billed.

As Google says:

With the Search terms report, you can see the actual searches people entered on Google Search and other Search Network sites that triggered your ad and led to a click.

We were confounded by the information we discovered. 56% of the Search Terms which led people to click on our AdWords contained one or more of the following key words:


We’re not prudes, but fotoLibra is emphatically not a porn site. Yet there are desperate young men so mad with lust that they are tracking down staid old us to get their jollies.

And we’re paying for it. Each convulsive click they made cost us money that we have to send to Google. It’s all rather sordid.

What can we do about it? Two things. OK, three. Immediately we can add those four words to our Negative Keywords list. We have 282 Negative Keywords which we don’t want to see in a search query, including such obvious candidates as cheap, free, jobs, intern, liquidation, resumé, CV, remainder, discount, HR, recruiter and so on. If you do a Google search and use one of those 282 words, our ads shouldn’t appear. It never occurred to us that some people had no idea how to find porn without involving fotoLibra.

The second and sadder discovery was that 94% of these clickers came from just two countries: India and Pakistan; to be accurate 29% from Pakistan and 65% from India. We can’t remember the last time we actually licensed an image to India or Pakistan so there’s a simple solution — block those countries.

So there’s an end to it. No more fotoLibra ads will appear on Google searches made in Pakistan or India, or when using any of those four words.

But what a tragic world we live in, when Indian and Pakistani men have little better to do than click one-handed on an innocent fotoLibra ad.


Add your comment


14 Responses to “Google AdWords”

  1. Cath Dunn says:

    Some of the large publishers are now outsourcing picture research to India!

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Well, we’re not blocking India per se — we’re just blocking our Google Adwords from appearing in India. Any legitimate researcher will still be able to find images on fotoLibra; try searching for “rubber, badelynge”.

  2. David Carton says:

    Cath has a point Gwyn. I’ve sold 3 images to India just recently. (Not with any of those key words I hasten to add). Also FL has nearly 900 images that return on a search for the word discount on the site, so that could be a double aged sword as a negative keyword. ATB, David

  3. Elizabeth Cannon says:

    I agree with your decision.
    Is it worth you finding out what people click on to arrive at Getty Images for example? I am sure they get lots of hits so if you could discover how you could add those words to you list?
    Happy Christmas.


  4. Paul says:

    Porn hunting on the Indian sub-continent, industrial espionage at Fotolibra ..
    It’s been quite a revealing afternoon, whatever next!

  5. Philip Carr says:

    Wonderful! This post alone is worth the subscription (if I was paying it)!

  6. Geoff France says:

    Would I get into trouble if I suggested the other 6% of clickers are Indian & Pakistani men in the UK.

  7. Philip Gibbins-Klein says:

    It could be Google paying very poor wages to Indian & Pakistani people to generate clicks which then brings in income from you and lots of other businesses!

  8. Jonathan Mitchell says:

    Amusing post Gwyn…It seems to me like the one-handed types are Google, who are an increasingly stupid company. Why you waste cash on their ads is quite beyond my realm of comprehension. Why not spend £500 on something like Bikini List which gives you access to thousands of picture buyers or working more on professional social networks like LinkedIn or promoting yourselves on Instagram (which has more power for bucks than FB and Twitter combined)?

    I don’t put much out as stock imagery any more, as I need to eat and pay bills and the returns are now so paltry and ridiculous that it is lucky that a stock agency gets a submission. On Getty Images Creative, I get on average around £0.55 per image/per year. I would need to edit 13 and a hald years solid to make £22,000 a year. That is without the time to take the images.

    In a world of ridiculous greed, haves and have nots, editors like Paul Dacre earning £2.3m a year while Mailonline pay paltry rates for images, one agency stood tall, one agency made their contributors money, one agency, well all agencies failed to make their photographers any meaningful income…