What Does the Google Ads Strike Policy Mean?

Starting from September 2021, Google will introduce a penalty system that could see your advertiser accounts suspended or closed. The penalties will be applied to accounts that violate these rules.

Google Ads Strike Policy

Google always works towards creating a friendly user experience for its entire community, advertisers and publishers included. This is why it introduces or modifies its policies from time to time. All these exist to prevent the harmful or inappropriate use of the platform that could affect users in one way or another. Just recently, there was a heated discussion about policies surrounding Google Ad disputes. Before the dust has even settled, there is a new twist in the plot, with Google introducing the three-strike ad policy programs.

The news is not surprising to advertisers but brings mixed feelings about the program. They are worried about the implications on their accounts. They worry that the enforcement of the policy might be haphazard, affecting some accounts more than others. However, Google has some checks and balances to ensure that the penalized accounts have genuinely violated the policy.

What is the Google Three-Strike Policy?

Starting from September 2021, Google will introduce a penalty system that could see your advertiser accounts suspended or closed. The penalties will be applied to accounts that violate these rules:

Enabling Dishonest Behavior 

Google values honesty and fairness. As such, it does not support the promotion of services or products designed to support, propel, or enable dishonest behavior. The platform disapproves advertisements for:

  • Products or services that help advertisers mislead others. These include services for creating false documents like passports, selling of numbers that mimic national identification numbers, or aids to pass drug tests. Ads for paper-writing or exam-taking services are also not allowed.
  • Products or services that make it possible for a user to gain unauthorized access to property, systems, or devices. Examples include changing traffic signals, hacking services, phone tapping, and radar jammers.
  • Products or services that allow a user to spy on other people or track their activities without their authorization. These include spyware technology or malware that enables users to monitor phone texts, calls, or browsing history.

Dangerous Products or Services 

Google does not allow the promotion of products that could cause harm, damage, or injury. Examples of products that Google considers harmful and which advertisers should avoid in their ads or destinations include:

  • Explosives like chemical bombs, nail bombs, firecrackers, any fireworks that explode, and grenades. Ads for instructional content about the acquisition, assembly, or enhancement of explosives are also not allowed.
  • Guns, gun parts, and related products, including ads for functional devices that seem to discharge a projectile at high velocity, whether for self-defense, sport or combat
  • Other weapons like knives designed for confrontational purposes or self-defense
  • Recreational drugs and tobacco, including cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, tobacco filters, and cigar bars.

Healthcare and Medicines 

Google specifies the healthcare-related content that advertisers can’t promote on the platform at all. However, it approves some certified advertisers from specific countries. You need to check the local regulations for the areas you want to target. Generally, Google doesn’t allow:

  • Unauthorized pharmacies that offer prescription drugs without a prescription
  • Those that target locations where they are not licensed
  • Products that contain ephedra
  • Products that contain human chorionic gonadotrophin for weight control or weight loss
  • Herbal or dietary supplements with dangerous ingredients
  • Products subjected to regulatory or government warning.
  • Products with names similar to controlled substances, unapproved supplements, or pharmaceutical products
  • HIV home tests, apart from ads in the Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom
  • Abortion
  • Birth control
  • Addiction services
  • Health insurance

How the Policy Works 

Here is how the three-strike policy works:

  • Warning: when you violate any of the above policies for the first time, Google will issue a warning and no penalty beyond pulling the irrelevant ads down.
  • First strike: when you violate the same policy for which you received a warning within 90 days, Google will temporarily hold your advertiser’s account. This will be for three days, and you will not be able to run any ads on that account for that period.
  • Second strike: when you violate the same policy for which you received a warning and first strike for the third time, you will get a second strike. The system will place your account on hold, but this time it will be for seven days. You will not be able to run ads, and this will serve as the final notice for your account before a suspension.
  • Third strike: this will happen if you violate the same policy for which you received a warning and a first and second strike. Instead of further warnings, your account will be suspended for repeat violations.

Each time you receive a warning or strike, you will receive an email notifying you of the same. Google expects you to correct the violation and submit an acknowledgment form to continue running your ads. The strikes expire after 90 days if you don’t take any action. However, Google has created systems to prevent advertisers from dodging the policies.

For example, creating new accounts to bypass a suspension may not be as easy as you think. Phishing or misrepresenting the disapproved products to intentionally mislead users are also violations Google will not condone. The company is also on its way to expanding the three-strikes program after the initial pilot to include more policy types.

How to Prepare for The Three-Strike Ad Policy

While Google is doing all it can to minimize incorrectly flagged ads, you also need to take steps to protect yourself. Before the policy takes effect, ensure you:

  • Take this time to review your account for any outstanding disapproval. You may find that you need to appeal or apply some changes to your ads to prevent your account from being flagged come September.
  • Check your website and account for any potentially unlawful content. Change or remove any images or wording that could pose a risk to your account. With the new policy, it could be effortless to get incorrect disapproval.
  • Roll out your ads before September if possible. This gives you enough time to rectify any advertisements that may attract a warning.
  • Set up other advertising channels and don’t rely on one marketing channel
  • Don’t create another account as a backup if your primary one gets suspended.

Most importantly, you must get expert help or opinion for anything you don’t understand.  If you would like more insights on how to stay safe on Google and other platforms, keep checking out our blog for more news and information. You may also contact one of our experts with all your queries and concerns about your business IT needs.