Dealing with Disapproved Ads: Yes, Very Boring, But Vitally Important

Unfortunately Google’s Systems Don’t Always Get it Right


With 30 Billion Google Searches being run every day, making sure searchers have a positive experience, and that everything ‘works’ is a massive undertaking on Google’s part. In fact, it’s such a big job that it would be impossible for humans alone to achieve. For this reason, Google makes use of artificial intelligence and a range of automated systems to do the heavy lifting. Generally, they do a pretty good job, but believe me when I say that these systems are far from perfect. If not carefully managed, they can negatively impact your business in a very big way.


Disapproved Ads Can Take Your Business Completely Offline

So why is all this important? Because if listings are disapproved and taken offline, it means no clicks, no calls and no sales. That’s bad news for your business.

Successful Google Ads Campaigns Are Never ‘Set and Forget’

Our team proactively monitor all aspects of our clients’ Google Advertising. You’d be surprised how much time and effort we invest into dealing with silly little things like managing disapproved ads. Most days, we respond to multiple instances of disapproved ads — this isn’t just some ‘once in a blue moon’ thing we do for fun. Yes, it’s not all that exciting, but it’s super important.


We Respond to 100,000+ Disapproved Ads Every Year

I’ve just run the numbers and over the past 12 months, we’ve responded to 1,473 disapproved ads emails and an estimated 109,000 disapproved ads. That’s a massive amount of missed exposure and business we’ve helped our clients avoid by rapidly responding to and dealing with any and all ad disapprovals. We do everything possible to keep our Google Advertising campaigns running smoothly without having to interrupt our busy clients in the running of their business.

Over the past 12 months we’ve sent hundreds of emails and spent countless hours on the phone to Google Support working to resolve Google System Errors regarding the disapproval of ads.

Why Does Google Disapprove Ads Anyway?

There are hundreds of criteria that must be met for an ad to be approved, and Google is constantly re-reviewing all listings to ensure full compliance. With over a decade in the business, we know a thing or two about crafting quality ad copy. However, there are some factors beyond our control that can commonly cause issues:

1. Destination Not Working

Errors of this nature are generally caused by your website going offline or being inaccessible from Google’s network (even if it’s only for a short period of time).  A very common issue, and something that we deal with right away to keep downtime on Google (and your website) to an absolute minimum.

Strange Man Surprise
Your website shouldn't have too many surprises - you need to give the searcher what they're looking for!

2. Final URLs an Landing Page Content

Quality is important, and Google is quite particular about the content it will allow ads to link to. We don’t work with any businesses that would knowingly violate Google’s Advertising Policies. However, from time to time we do have to deal with disapproved ads due to on page content. Some of the interesting (but often very frustrating) reasons we’ve had ads disapproved include supposed references to “Recreational Drugs” or “Prescription Drug Targeting” despite our client having absolutely no reference to any such thing on their website! Sometimes phrases like “Drug Free Treatment” can trigger disapprovals. We spend hours and hours on the phone to Google’s ad approvals team working through these sorts of issues. We live in hope that Google’s systems will improve with time and eventually not make these sorts of mistakes! Until that happens (dreams are free), we’ll continue to promptly respond to and deal with any issues that come up.

3. Problems with Symbols and Punctuation

Google has a comprehensive set of rules when it comes to what and how symbols and punctuation can be used in Google Ad Text. And sometimes Google’s automated review systems get it wrong, at which point we go in to bat for our clients, and request multiple manual reviews, to resolve any issues as quickly as possible. It’s not uncommon for us to have to have several conversations with Google’s ad approvals team in order to get any issues resolved without delay.

4. Other Policy Issues

From time to time, other issues arise. For example, websites that have been hacked (and may be infected with malware), issues with website popups, deceptive information, use of protected or trademarked terms and so on. We often find ourselves reaching out to help fix non-compliant websites.

Response Time and Experience Makes All the Difference

It sounds like something that one might put on the back burner; however, rectifying disapproved ads is one of the first things that we do when we come into the office each morning. If ads are disapproved overnight (this is when the majority seem to happen due to difference in time zones), you face the loss of potential business if we don’t have you back online promptly. It may take as little as a few minutes to resolve certain ad issues, although when Google gets it wrong, it can take multiple hours over the course of a few days to reach a resolution. We’ve created a thorough follow up process, which means that we keep checking back on ads until we see that they are all completely approved, and any and all issues resolved.

In conclusion:

~95% of our work is done proactively in the background. Rapidly responding to ad disapprovals is just one example of what we do to keep the lights on and your phones ringing, so you can keep doing what you do best.

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