Google’s New 3-Strikes Ad Policy

Just recently, there was a discussion on the issue of how to dispute Google Ad disapprovals. Before the dust has even settled, Google has introduced a new policy that will create a new twist for Google advertisers.

The three-strike ad policy system is nothing surprising to advertisers, but it creates mixed reactions about the program. The primary worry is the implications the policy will have on many accounts. Under the new program, incorrectly flagged ads come with significantly damaging consequences, to the extent of having an account suspended.

What is Google’s 3-Strike Ad Policy?

On July 20, 2021, Google announced that it would pilot a new policy program to penalize repeat offenders of three of its current policies. The policy will be effective starting from September 2021, with a gradual ramp-up for three months. Google will notify advertisers each time there is an update of guidelines within the scope of the strike-based program. The policy targets Google Ads disapprovals for the following guidelines:

  • Enabling dishonest behavior: ads that promote deceptive products and behavior like hacking services, creation of false documents, and spyware
  • Unapproved substances, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, or supplements
  • Dangerous products or services like guns, gun parts, related products, explosives, and other weapons.

Although these types of ads have been forbidden for a while, punishing offenders is a new policy.

How Does the Google Ad 3-Strikes System Work?

To create a safe and positive experience for users, Google expects all advertisers to observe Google Ads policies. The enforcement system will see Google issue strikes to advertisers to encourage compliance and deter repeat violations of its policies.

The system will start by issuing a warning for an initial violation. Subsequent violations will attract increasingly stringent penalties, leading to account suspension for persistent offenses. The first warning will only affect the offending ads as Google will take them down until you change the copy.

  • First offense: in the first instance where your ad content promotes dishonest behavior, unapproved substances, or dangerous products, Google will issue you with a warning, and you will suffer no penalties beyond having your ads removed.
  • Second offense: when, for a second time, you violate a policy for which you have received a warning within 90 days, Google will issue you with the first strike. Your account will be placed on hold temporarily for three days, making it ineligible to run any ads.
  • Third offense: you will receive a second strike if you violate the same policy for which you received a strike the first time within 90 days. The system will place your account on a temporary hold, but this time it will be for seven days. During this time, you won’t be eligible to run any ads on the affected account. The second strike will be the final notice to you.
  • Fourth offense: if within 90 days you violate the same policy for which you received a second and third strike, Google will suspend your account.

With all these violations, you, as the account admin, will receive an email notifying you of the issue. Following the initial warning, Google expects you to correct the policy infringements. You also should send an acknowledgment to Google Ads that you made the necessary changes. This is the only way Google will allow you to rerun ads if your account is not already suspended.

After this acknowledgment, Google will release your account from the temporary hold either after three days after the issuance of the first strike or after seven days for a second strike. Fortunately, you can appeal a strike decision if you believe Google issued it in error. After successfully appealing a strike, your ads will resume serving immediately after.

Take note that your account will remain on temporary hold if you don’t take any action to either acknowledge or appeal a strike. The Strikes will stay on the Google Ads account for 90 days unless you appeal them. Besides, if your account is suspended following a third strike, you will not be able to run any ads or create new content unless you successfully appeal the suspension.

How to Prepare for the 3-Strike Ad Policy System

As you prepare for the upcoming changes, here are some tips on what you can do:

  • Appeal or resolve any pending disapprovals. The new policy is an opportunity to review your account and take the necessary action.
  • Check your account and website for content that could potentially trigger a penalty from Google.
  • Consider rolling out new content before September. This will give you enough time to save yourself from a warning by then.
  • Don’t rely on a single marketing channel.
  • Avoid making backup accounts now or after account suspension

Google Ads Policy on Account Suspensions

Google takes the legal requirements and safety of users seriously. As such, any action that puts the platform, users, or partners at risk can amount to account suspension. This means that the account will be banned from using the Google Ads feature. This is essential in helping the company maintain a sustainable ecosystem that favors all users.

Why Google Suspends Accounts

The ad policies around account suspension help create a safe experience for advertisers and users. Google will suspend any account that violates its Terms and Conditions or policies. Any egregious policy violation will lead to immediate account suspension without any warning.

Google defines egregious violations as one which is so severe that it poses significant harm to users. Unlawful violations also fall in this category, including those that destabilize the advertising ecosystem. These errors reflect an account’s lack of adherence to Google Ad policies. They could be so severe that Google cannot risk future exposure to users.

Final Thoughts

The new Google Ad policy comes with clear actions and consequences for violating the laid down rules. While this is just a testing program, the company will likely roll out similar policies soon. To stay on the safe side with Google, ensure you adhere to all the guidelines. If you would like more help with keeping your online accounts secure, check out our blog for more insightful articles in the technology space. Or contact us.

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