thumbs down icon representing google ads rejection

When it comes to Google Ads, you might not think about what you can – and can't – advertise on Google. But there are limitation, and we've run into quite a few restrictions over the past few months.

We have clients who wanted to run Google Ads for services, each which have restrictions for different reasons:

  • A medicinal medical marijuana doctor just outside New York City couldn't run ads, even though medical marijuana is legal in their state. That's because  marijuana is still illegal on a federal level,
  • An orthopedic surgeon in Nashville, Tennessee, couldn't run Google Ads for stem cell injections, because Google considers stem cell injections an unproven medical treatment,
  • A plastic surgeon can't run Google Search ads for "breast augmentation" or "breast implants" anymore. Why? Because the ads were classified as "Adult content" by Google, because some results showed partial nudity and/or very suggestive images in the search results,  and
  • A home builder of 55 plus communities couldn't run ads targeting people over 55. That's because in March of 2020, the U.S. government, and the National Fair Housing Alliance sued Facebook because they unlawfully enabled advertisers to target housing to people based on race, color, gender, age, national origin, family status, and disability. (Age being the key group.)

So a builder of 55+ communities couldn't run Search ads on Google (or Facebook) targeted to people over 55. You can imagine how much that hurts that home builder. There is an avenue to contest a decision by Google, but as you would imagine, it's not a quick process. At the time of this blog post, the process between the builder and Google is still going on.

How to work around restrictions on Google Ads.

For now at least, we've been able to work around limitations of Google Ads by running "display ads," opposed to "Search ads." As you would imagine, Search ads are text-based ads that appear on Google's Search results page:

screenshot of Google search ad for home builder

Below is a Display ad: an ad that's a complete graphic, so the text is embedded within the file.

Display ad for home builder

We're sure you've run into display ads. They follow you around the internet after you've visited a website for cars, clothing or anything else. They can be annoying. And it's kinda creepy if they follow your around the internet for more than a few weeks. (You can dictate how long a display ad keeps appearing for someone.)

As a side note: display ads don't only appear after you've visited a website. They can follow you around the internet just from Google searches you've done. So if you've searched online for used cars, but not even been to a used car dealer website, used car ads can still follow you around the internet. The display ads can be based on the search terms, and keywords, you Google.

Our Google display ads for plastic surgeons was rejected.

Even as a Columbus web design company, trying to run Display ads targeted to plastic surgeons, we had an issue. That's because Google determined the image in this initial series of ads was too suggestive.

rejected sevell surgeon Google ad

So we ran a few image options by the Google rep for their approved before we revised the 22 different sized display ads. They approved three. These two:

approved google ad image 1

approved google ad image 1... and the image they approved which ended up in the actual display ads we're running for plastic surgeons.

image in sevell surgeon ad approved

Running Google Ads is a complex sub-specialty.

As you know, Google's algorithms change frequently. But as you might not know, running and tracking Google ads is an incredibly complex proposition. It isn't something to take on yourself unless you have extensive experience doing it.

Finding someone to set up the ads for you, track them, and constantly change the search terms that direct folks to your display ads to those that work the best, is the only way to go. And even those companies, like any specialty, can have an incredibly wide range of costs. So before you embark on a Google Ads campaign, be sure to pick the right company to walk you through the process. That process will be addressed in another post.

Or, you can contact us to learn more.