Google’s three-warning ad policy isn’t the problem, it’s the enforcement of the policy that worries advertisers

Type Trigger Sadness
Warning First Instance of Advertising Content Violating Our Authorization Policies for Dishonest Behavior, Unapproved Substances, and Unsafe Products or Services No sanction beyond the removal of the
relevant announcements
First attempt Violation of the same policy for which you received a warning within 90 days The account will be temporarily suspended for three days, during which time ads cannot be served
Second strike Violation of the same policy for which you received a first warning within 90 days of the first warning The account will be temporarily suspended for seven days, during which time ads cannot be served. This will serve as the last and final notice to the advertiser to avoid account suspension
Third strike Violation of the same policy for which you received a second warning within 90 days of the second warning Account suspension for repeated violation of our policies

Warnings expire after 90 days, and Google has systems in place to prevent advertisers from bending its rules (by creating new accounts to bypass a suspension, for example). The company also plans to expand its three strike program after the initial pilot to include more types of policies.

“The policies are not the problem, it is the uneven and sometimes simply incorrect application of the policy”

The PPC professionals who spoke to us for this article were overwhelmingly supportive of the three strike system. However, Google’s app, which can be haphazard, worries them.

“I want to be clear that the policies are not the problem, it is the uneven and sometimes just incorrect application of the policy,” said Amalia Fowler, director of marketing at Snaptech Marketing, “This is the made that an account where I have already appealed more than once is always reported for the same reason… If I was confident that the appeal process would go smoothly or that repeated signals would not occur, I wouldn’t be as worried as I am.

“A ridiculous disapproval[s]. “ One would expect flagged ads to be a reality in heavily regulated industries such as healthcare, but stories of inappropriately flagged ads are quite common, even in industries like CPGs and healthcare management. ‘events.

“Two of my clients were frowned on for unapproved substances and unsafe products earlier this year,” said Amy Bishop, owner of Cultivative, “I remember it very well because the clients and I had a good laugh, given that one of them is in the event management SaaS space and the other was in the CPG space. “That was an equally ridiculous disapproval for both of their companies,” he said. she added, noting that both instances had been appealed successfully.

“I have had ‘false flags’ specifically in these categories on several occasions over the past year (including ads for a cybersecurity company frowned upon for promoting drug use!)” said Tim Jensen, campaign manager at Clix Marketing. While these examples are of particular concern for ads identified as violating Google’s three-warnings policy, they relate to a larger issue that PPC professionals have been addressing for some time: “I have customers who get emailed all the time. wrong refusals, ”Bishop said, warning that the refusals do not apply to all of the categories covered by the new policy.

The Google Ads team seems to be in the know. “I assure you, there are no drinks during the ad reviews :)”, Ginny Marvin, Ad Product Liaison at Google, tweeted in response to a joking comment, “I passed this feedback on to the teams. “

Google is no stranger to advertiser complaints about inappropriately flagged ads, but the new consequences raise the stakes, and advertisers want to know the odds are not stacked against them. It is also in Google’s best interest to improve its ad violation detection systems, as ads are the main source of revenue for the business and linking Google Ads representatives to a deluge of support requests is an unsustainable proposition.

The potential impact on advertisers

Previously, falsely reported ads could be a minor frustration for marketers. But, in the new system, they could turn out to be income barriers.

For clients. “For my clients in particular, there are two or three that are continually being inappropriately flagged for dangerous substances and weapons, and we are constantly appealing,” Fowler said. “Google Ads drives their presence in e-commerce, which is a very large part of their overall business, so being reported incorrectly is one thing, but having the account suspended is another,” he said. she added.

“I have clients who get false rejections all the time,” Bishop said, adding that “they are not for the categories covered in the three disclaimer rule, so I doubt that will impact my clients. , but I can see where people with clients from other industries, especially healthcare, might have concerns.

Fortunately for advertisers, warnings expire after 90 days, and they can appeal warnings that they believe have been applied inappropriately. Successful calls are not counted towards the limit of three warnings.

For agencies. “For the agency, this could mean extra time spent haggling with support / representatives to make sure the ‘false flags’ don’t count against us,” Jensen said.

“If I write an ad, it gets frowned upon, I appeal and it gets rejected, how many more times will I try this short track again?” Fowler said, adding, “In cases where the policy is administered unfairly or badly, or simply incorrectly, it stifles a company’s ability to advertise and adds a level of anxiety.”

More time spent “haggling” with Google Ads representatives can mean less time spent optimizing the campaign itself. And, while these false flags can slow progress, accounts likely to receive a lot of them can end up being suspended. The combination of these factors can negatively affect the agency-client relationship.

What advertisers can do to prepare for Google’s three-warning system

In all likelihood, Google is likely improving its systems to minimize incorrectly flagged ads. However, the three strike program is expected to begin in a few weeks, so it may be in the best interests of advertisers to exercise caution.

“Watch for violations that are reported and be prepared to appeal,” Jensen advised, “You can’t always predict when ads may be reported, but just pay close attention to images and display ad terms that might appear. one way or another be interpreted to match these policies. “

“Understand that it’s not just the ad copy that’s causing these violations,” said Fowler, recommending that advertisers check their extensions, destination URLs and their site as a whole. “If you have an account that has historically been reported under these policies although it hasn’t violated them, make sure you’re happy with your account setup and the number of ads. I would create ads, make sure they get approved and then pause them for future testing so you don’t have to create them under this new policy, ”she added. .

Additionally, communicating the change with stakeholders and customers in advance can help you define their expectations once the new policies take effect. “In the future, we plan to expand the phased warning system to further extend our policies,” Google said in its announcement, which means that eventually more advertisers could potentially violate the system. so it is better to get it coming now instead of allowing that first warning or this strike to go on.

About the Author

George Nguyen is an editor for Search Engine Land, covering organic search, podcasting, and e-commerce. His background is in journalism and content marketing. Before entering the industry, he worked as a radio personality, writer, podcast host and teacher in a public school.

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