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New AdWords policies

Change in AdWords policies for September 2014

Google has announced a new set of policies for AdWords that affects all sellers. The new policies cover four areas:

  • Prohibited content
  • Prohibited practices
  • Restricted content
  • Editorial and technical

Many sellers have experienced early enforcement of some of the new policies when Google started rolling out quality standards for ads and websites. In many cases these quality standards required that businesses be more “transparent” to shoppers. This includes displaying full contact information including a mailing address and phone number as part of a “Terms & Conditions” area of your website.

We’ve included information on each of the four policy areas below; you can also view the complete updated policy page at Google’s support site.

Prohibited Content

Content you’re not allowed to promote on the Google Network:

  • Counterfeit goods
  • Dangerous products or services – including (but not limited to) recreational drugs (chemical or herbal); psychoactive substances; equipment to facilitate drug use; weapons, ammunition, explosive materials and fireworks; instructions for making explosives or other harmful products; tobacco products
  • Products or services that enable dishonest behavior – some examples include hacking software or instructions; services designed to artificially inflate ad or website traffic; fake documents; academic cheating services
  • Offensive or inappropriate content:
    • hatred; violence; harassment; racism; sexual, religious, or political intolerance, or organizations with such views
    • content that’s likely to shock or disgust
    • content that’s exploitative or appears to unfairly capitalize at the expense of others

    Examples include: bullying or intimidation of an individual or group, racial discrimination, hate group paraphernalia, graphic crime scene or accident images, cruelty to animals, murder, self-harm, extortion or blackmail, sale or trade of endangered species, ads using profane language

Prohibited Practices

Things you can’t do if you want to advertise with Google:

  • Abuse of the ad network. Ads should be useful, varied, relevant and safe for users, therefore the following are not allowed:
    • malicious ads, sites, or apps
    • ads promoting sites that offer little unique value to users and are focused primarily on traffic generation
    • businesses that attempt to gain an unfair advantage in the ad auction
    • businesses that attempt to bypass our review processes

    Examples include: promoting content that contains malware; “cloaking” or using other techniques to hide the true destination that users are directed to; “arbitrage” or promoting destinations for the sole or primary purpose of showing ads; promoting “bridge” or “gateway” destinations that are solely designed to send users elsewhere; advertising with the sole or primary intent of gaining public social network endorsements from the user; “gaming” or manipulating settings in an attempt to circumvent Google’s policy review systems

  • Irresponsible Data Collection & Use. User information should be handled with care and respect. Advertisers should not misuse this information or collect it for unclear purpose or without appropriate security measures.
    • Examples of user information that should be handled with care: full name; email address; mailing address; phone number; national identity, pension, social security, tax ID, health care, or driver’s license number; birth date or mother’s maiden name in addition to any of the above information; financial status; political affiliation; sexual orientation; race or ethnicity; religion
    • Examples of irresponsible data collection & use: obtaining credit card information over a non-secure server, promotions that claim to know a user’s sexual orientation or financial status
  • Misrepresentation of Self, Product, or Service. Users should not be misled by ads. Therefore advertisers must be upfront, honest, and providing users with the information they need to make informed decisions. Google does not allow the following:
    • promotions that prompt users to initiate a purchase, download, or other commitment without first providing all relevant information and obtaining the user’s explicit consent
    • promotions that represent the advertiser or the advertiser’s products or services in a way that is not accurate, realistic, and truthful

    Examples of misrepresentation: omitting or obscuring billing details such as how, what, and when users will be charged; omitting or obscuring charges associated with financial services such as interest rates, fees, and penalties; failing to display tax or license numbers, contact information, or physical address where relevant; making offers that aren’t actually available; making misleading or unrealistic claims regarding weight loss or financial gain; collecting donations under false pretenses; “phishing” or falsely purporting to be a reputable company in order to get users to part with valuable personal or financial information

Restricted Content

Content you can advertise, but with limitations. Google will allow the promotion of the following content, but on a limited basis.

  • Adult-oriented content:
    • offline adult entertainment
    • adult merchandise
    • dating services
    • international bride services
    • sexually suggestive content
    • images containing exposed skin and nudity

    When promoting adult content, you may not do any of the following: violate applicable laws or regulations for any location that your campaign targets; target minors; promote sexually explicit content; promote content with underage or non-consensual sexual themes; promote escort services or other services that may be interpreted as providing sexual acts in exchange for compensation. Examples of restricted adult content: strip clubs, erotic cinemas, sex toys, adult magazines, sexual enhancement products, matchmaking sites, models in sexualized poses

  • Alcoholic beverages. When promoting alcoholic beverages, you may not do any of the following:
    • violate applicable laws and industry standards for any location that your campaign targets
    • target individuals below the legal drinking age
    • imply that drinking alcohol can improve social, sexual, professional, intellectual, or athletic standing
    • imply that drinking alcohol provides health or therapeutic benefits
    • portray excessive drinking in a positive light or feature binge or competition drinking
    • show alcohol being consumed in conjunction with the operation of a vehicle of any kind, the operation of machinery, or the performance of any task requiring alertness or dexterity

    Examples of restricted alcoholic beverages: beer, wine, sake, spirits or hard alcohol, Champagne, fortified wine, non-alcoholic beer, non-alcoholic wine, and non-alcoholic distilled spirits

  • Copyrighted content. Google restricts the promotion of copyrighted content. However, if you would like to promote copyrighted content and believe that you’re legally authorized to do so, you can contact Google with your claim and documentation to be certified to advertise.
  • Gambling-related content. Google restricts the promotion of the following gambling-related content:
    • offline and online gambling
    • online gambling-related information
    • online games played for money or prizes
    • online casino-based games, regardless of whether money is exchanged

    When promoting gambling-related content, you need to do the following:

    • Comply with applicable laws and industry standards for any location that your campaign targets.
    • Meet local licensing requirements for all gambling-related products and services that you’re promoting.
    • Clearly display information on your website about responsible gambling.
    • Ensure that you don’t target minors.
    • Request and receive pre-authorization from Google before promoting any online gambling-related content.

    Examples of restricted gambling-related content: physical casinos; sites where users can bet on poker, bingo, roulette, or sports events; national or private lotteries; sports odds aggregator sites; sites offering bonus codes or promotional offers for gambling sites; online educational materials for casino-based games; sites offering “poker-for-fun” games; non-casino-based cash game sites

  • Healthcare-related content. Google restricts the promotion of the following healthcare-related content, which may vary depending on the product/service you promote and the country you target.
    • over-the-counter medication
    • prescription medication and information about prescription medication
    • online and offline pharmacies
    • pregnancy and fertility-related products and services
    • medical services and procedures
    • medical devices and tests
    • clinical trial recruitment
    • sexual enhancement treatments
  • Political content. When promoting political content, you must comply with:
    • applicable laws and industry standards for any location that your campaign targets
    • any applicable election “silence periods”
    • Google’s country-specific requirements

    Examples of political content include promotion of political parties or candidates, political issue advocacy

Editorial & Technical Requirements

Quality standards for your ads and website. Ads should be appealing and engaging to users, but not annoying or difficult to interact with.

  • Editorial and professional requirements: Promotions should be clear, professional in appearance, and lead users to content that is relevant, useful, and easy to interact with.
  • Technical requirements: Promotions must comply with Google’s standards for character limits for headline/body, image size requirements, file size limits, video length limits, aspect ratios, etc.

For more details on editorial and technical requirements, you can refer to Google’s support pages for these topics.

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