Can Google Display Ads Say ‘Click Here’?

Today’s question: can you put language like “Click Here” into a display image ad on AdWords/Google Display ad network?

The “TL;DR” answer is: “technically, probably not; but in practice, definitely”.

Let’s look into it. Google’s official policy on the question is here and it says that these are not allowed:

Ads or extensions that are inconsistent with the clear and informational presentation style of the Google Search results.
Examples: Ads that use bullet points or numbered lists; ads containing a generic call to action (such as “click here”) that could apply to any ad.

So, the policy is telling is saying quite clearly that we can’t use language like that, and they even call out “click here” as a particular example.

This presumably would apply to variations like, “Click to learn more” and so forth.

But this is where it gets interesting (Gasp!).

I’ve run tens of thousands of display ads (if we include different sizes/formats as different ads) and many use “click here” and variations of that. And never (not once) has an ad of mine been disapproved for this reason.

I’ve even discussed this issue with colleagues, and the result is the same: Google ignores this rule.

So I can safely recommend just go ahead with it.

That said, this implies a question: “if Google ignores this policy, then why do they have it?”

The answer boils down to a subtle rule of modern governance that those who talk about politics and society tend to ignore or pretend doesn’t exist. And that is, from the eyes of a government, it makes sense to have lots and lots of tiny rules that you don’t enforce. Why? So that when you decide to punish a dissident or someone you don’t like for whatever reasons you may have it’s usually hard to get them for the actual reason you want to get them for, so instead you need an excuse to do so. And a rule that you rarely enforce turns into a weapon when you enforce against Those Whom You Must Stop. And Google, whether we like it or not, is (for all practical purposes) a government.

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