Google has a piracy problem in the book section of the Play Store, which has been well documented. A couple of years ago it was such as huge issue that they disabled the ability for users to signup for publisher accounts to submit ebooks, and you had to basically be invited. Last year they enabled signups from self-publishers and small companies, and piracy is once again running rampant. Since they can’t police the ebooks listed on their website, they are doing something different, stopping people from advertising ebooks on Shopping ads, globally.
Shopping ads are ads that include rich product information, such as a product image, price, and merchant name. They’re created using data attributes from the product information you submit in your Merchant Center data feed and are shown to people who are already searching for the kinds of products you advertise. Google Merchant Center will pull feeds from a CMS system, such as WordPress and make dynamic ads that show cover art and pricing and will automatically create entries for paid advertising in Adwords. This is really useful for ecom sites that have hundreds or thousands of products.
Starting on May 18th, 2021, you can no longer advertise digital books and they will automatically be disapproved. This includes PDFs, ePub books, MOBI, and other formats. There will be no change for physical books or audiobooks. Google stated that “At present, Google cannot provide the best user and publisher experience to meet the high standards for digital books in Shopping ads. While we understand this negatively impacts those who advertise digital books on Shopping, we believe this is the right decision to protect users, publishers, and the Shopping ecosystem.”
This is a serious blow to anyone who wants to advertise ebooks on Google, including legitimate authors and publishing companies. With the elimination of Shopping ads for digital books and Buy on Google listings, which already prohibit the sale of digital products.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.