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Google AdWords To Ban Certain Products This Month

Jignesh Gohel
Google AdWords To Ban Certain Products This Month

Google AdWords has been a highly supportive promotional tool for retail advertisers all over the globe. The platform allows advertisers to reach a worldwide market base and increases the revenue-generating capability of a website or e-commerce store.

Available as a paid program, Google AdWords allows entrepreneurs and advertisers to initiate a greater reach of their products with PLAs, which has recently migrated to new Google shopping campaigns. As such, the tool guarantees a wide reach for products and brands.

The AdWords campaign lists products alongside relevant searches and increases the potential of traffic to your website. This has been a popular tool to increase the awareness of online stores among customers. Further, the tool allows advertisers to concentrate on location-specific web users and add business addresses and phone numbers for better mapping of businesses. Google AdWords has been able to leverage many businesses across the globe, and advertisers have benefited from increased phone calls, online leads and store visits with properly-optimized campaigns.

The Google AdWords campaign has been open for all advertisers but, beginning this month, they will restrict some products that are listed under the “Restricted Products and Services” category. How will this affect online advertisers?

Restricted Products Under Google AdWords

As per Google’s new policy “Dangerous products or services" page, promotion of products that can “damage, harm or injure” are to be banned from the search and display advertisement. These products include categories that are deemed to be illegal, harmful, dangerous and sexual.

google adwords safety policy 

The new regulations will be operational beginning this month, September 2014. Retailers dealing with airsoft guns, bb guns, paintball guns, ammunition, ammunition belts and clips will no longer be allowed under the AdWords framework. Further, the new policies bring forth several other restrictions on advertisements such as:

  • Country-specific bans of “restricted” products;
  • Specific products to be displayed “only for adults;” and
  • New Google AdWords policies that correspond to country-specific laws.

Some products will be allowed, but with limitations. Products coming under country-specific advertising laws are to strictly comply with the regulations. As such, all advertisers dealing with “restricted” products are to bear the responsibility of their business. Google wants to make sure that its listings are safe and legal.

adwords letter to advertisers

Examples of and Reasons for the Ban

1. Abortion-related products

Starting in September, abortion-related ads and services won’t show up on Google that use gruesome or violent images. There are also country-specific requirements.

The Australian Government doesn’t allow abortion-inducing drugs, and, as such, Google will not display or promote such advertisements. Similarly with Italy, users will not be shown ads related to the morning after pill. Abortion-related services, on the other hand, will still be visible in certain countries and include abortion clinics, counseling, medical assessment and content related to a woman’s right to choose.

2. Endangered species

Advertisements related to the sale of endangered/threatened species/products will be banned beginning in September. Advertisers aren’t allowed to promote ivory or products derived from sharks, tigers, whales, rhinoceros, dolphins, staghorns and Elkhorn corals.

3. Illegal drugs and psychoactive substances

Promotion of drugs — legal or synthetic highs, herbal drugs, psychoactive compounds, illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia or aids to pass test drugs won’t be allowed in some countries. Certain products like hemp are allowed with limitations, but will come with the label “non-family safe.”

4. Tobacco products

Tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, rolling papers, pipes, filters and vaporizers aren’t allowed to be displayed with Google. Tobacco-related services like Hookah lounges, cigar bars and rehab centers, and accessory products like ashtrays, lighters or cigar cutters will still be allowed, but with country-specific limitations. (Noticing a theme here?)

The new Google AdWords policy also bans the promotion of healthcare-related contents including prescription drugs, online pharmacies, unapproved supplements, medical devices, HIV home tests, paternity tests, abortion, birth control and other medical products and services. However, services registered with the government are free to be listed.

Some More Products to Be Banned

Products considered “dangerous” and “injurious” are also set to be cleared off Google listings in the coming month. Google has already sent emails to specific advertisers to edit their listings and rephrase their advertisements. Several other products in various categories are to be included in this list. Advertisers as such need to remove all references for positive review and resubmit their advertisements. Violating the policies may also lead to ad disapproval, domain disabling or even account suspension.

Response from Sellers/Advertisers

The new AdWords policy from Google has attracted both a positive and negative response from sellers. For instance, paintball gun manufacturers say their products have long been top-end recreational equipment for passionate participants across the U.S. It is accepted as a sport, and banning it seems irrational of Google.

paintball guns front ad 

No easy answers

The margin of safety can get very complicated. Some decisions in this regard have upset online manufacturers, and many advertisers hope Google resolves these issues. Otherwise, the ban could result in a huge revenue deficit for some companies.

What do you think? Has the AdWords ban gone too far in some cases? Let us know in the comments.

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Jignesh Gohel is a Founder & CEO of an online business consulting agency OLBUZ specializing in eCommerce, products and small business marketing. In his minuscule spare time, Jignesh enjoys nature photography and yoga. You can follow him on Twitter or reach out to him via Linkedin.
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Justin Becker
Is there any loop hole or work around? How do other e-commerce sites generate traffic for the most part? Does anyone know how there are a few waterpipes advertised through Google Shopping?
Jignesh Gohel
Justin Becker
Hi Justin,

Thank you for your below comment.

You are right, sometime it happens that automatic product review system may not detect products and it may happen that you see those products being advertised.

The policy is equal for all advertisers and if you find any products that violate Google policy, you can always take a screenshot and send them to Google adword team. They will take care of rest.
Justin Becker
Jignesh Gohel
Thank you for your reply Jignesh. Do you happen to know if there is a method for advertising so that Google Shopping does not detect such a product as being in violation? From what I understand, the product itself is not illegal and so I’m wondering if the ad category or content text can be modified to avoid policy conflicts. Thanks a lot for your input. It’s really appreciated as I have invested a lot and not sure if I need to throw in the towel at this point.
Jignesh Gohel
Justin Becker
Hi Justin,

If your product is not violating Google advertising policy but still it is rejected, there is a way to get it approved by Google adwords team. You should contact their representative with your query. They manually review your campaign and take necessary action.

If you still need any help, contact me directly at my email id: jignesh23[[at]]gmail to get quick response.

Hope it help.