At this point, maybe we should just create a new blog category named “Everything that Google won’t let you do anymore”, right? It’s not a surprise these days to wake up in the morning, grab your phone (because I won’t believe it if you tell me your day starts any differently), enter your go-to advertising news portal (about that: ever heard of this great one named Display Ads Deep Dive? I heard they are awesome), and found out that Google has now updated their policies (as always, on behalf of users’ privacy) and prohibited something new.
Just a couple of months ago they began this new rush of content banning policies, to prevent publishers from launching Ads that could go either against their countries’ laws or Google’s morals ones. Just like that, no more Ads were approved if they had any correlation to any topic Google Ads found that was not an ethical thing to take out an Ad about. And, of course, this whole situation matters a lot to people in the advertising field because you can’t afford the risk of having Google thinking negatively about your website or Ads, do you? So that’s how the world goes, Google says, and we do.
So now, Google Shopping has also entered the banning-stuff-parade (and you know, not even Rachel Berry could rain on it). So if you were thinking of launching an Ad about your awesome new eBook on Google Shopping, you may want to give it a second thought, because now you are no longer allowed to do so. On Google Shopping’s content policy, there is now a text box that says, as it may sound familiar, “Hey, we are no longer allowing sales of certain products, but we are only doing it to improve our users’ experience” and justifying it with the fact that their platform can’t support it. Which is something that could actually happen, if they weren’t the biggest Ad tech giant at the moment. So if Google’s platform can’t take something, then whose will? Sounds a lot like a usual Google move to blame bannings on their actions to protect users.
But today, we are not here to lash out at Google’s decisions because we’ve already done that too many times, and will probably continue to do it in the future. Today’s conversation is about what you are no longer allowed to advertise and sell through Google shopping, so you don’t have to take any harsh surprises in the future. But before we dive in, it’s important to highlight that Google Shopping’s bannings are said to not affect other Google platforms, so this doesn’t mean that you can’t take out Ads on these subjects in the rest of them. However, as a side note on what experience has taught us, I’d probably stay clear of these to avoid the risk of having my Google Ads account shut down. So let’s dive into the complete list of restrictions, shall we?
Products that require any kind of verification
Google Shopping doesn’t allow the promotion or sale of products restricted to specific ages or requiring proof of ID upon purchase. So, if your product requires checking an ID before actually completing the sale, you are no longer allowed to have your Ads hosted by Google Shopping. This applies to products such as alcohol, certain types of subscriptions, and even gift cards.
Any type of ticket for any kind of event, experience, future transportation, or even parking lot tickets are no longer allowed to be promoted by an Ad on Google Shopping. This is probably related to the fact that verifications are needed, but, whatever’s the reason for it, the thing is you can no longer advertise any kind of ticket sales.
Google Shopping will no longer allow the promotion of motor or sail-powered vehicles used for the transport of people on public access ways on their site. So if you want to sell your car, no matter how legally you want to do it, you’ll have to find another way to do it. And this applies to any kind of transportation such as RVs, trucks, boats, catamarans, planes, helicopters, motorcycles, mopeds, and even jet skis. Google Shopping does include an exemption for this rule in which motor-powered bicycles with a motor-assisted speed of 25 km/h or 15.5 mph or less are allowed; Crazy specific, right?
From now on products related to finance management, financial assets, investments, securities, or insurances can no longer be advertised on Google Shopping. So not even if top-notch MetLife’s CEO came in and said “Hey, I want to invest all this money in throwing Ads on Google Shopping ”, they’d be up for it. Or so they say. Some examples of these can be Ads about Stocks, bonds, investment products, insurance policies, credit cards, money orders, cashier’s checks.
eBooks and Digital Books (excluding audio ones)
As said by Good Readers article, the reason for this banning is that Google has a piracy problem in the book section of the Play Store, that’s well known, has been impossible to solve, and has even reached the point of not allowing users sign up for publishers accounts to submit eBooks (you had to get invited to do so!). So, starting on May 18th, 2021, users were no longer able to advertise digital books and they would get automatically disapproved. This banning includes PDFs, ePub books, MOBI, and other formats, but it does not affect physical or audiobooks.
Google Shopping does not host Ads promoting mediums of exchange that are reliant on variable currency market values to determine price, including discounted currencies, currency exchanges, or currency backed by precious materials. Some examples could include Ads promoting gold bullion, precious metals, local currency, and any type of virtual currency.
Open-loop gift cards
This also probably has a direct correlation with the ID verification issue, but whatever the case, Google will not allow you to publish ads promoting prepaid gift cards branded by a credit card issuer. Examples of this include Ads about Mastercard, Visa, or American Express branded gift cards. So, as much as a great gift this is, you definitely will want to stay away from these Ads.
Google Shopping no longer allows you to feature Ads offering your or anyone’s services such as labor, time, effort, expertise, or actions, which do not result in ownership of a tangible product. This includes any services sold bundled with physical goods. Examples of these may be Ads promoting maintenance or repair services, accounting services, financial planning services, streaming content, online gaming currency, car repair services sold bundled with the purchase of tires. So, no matter how great a professional you are, Google Shopping’s users will now never know.
Property not physically movable or which cannot be moved without being altered or destroyed is not allowed to be advertised on Google Shopping. So, if you are thinking of throwing some Ads about real estate, non-portable homes, or even plots of land, you may want to stay away from Google Shopping because you definitely won’t have them approved.
Any product whose payment method allows users to pay for goods on an ongoing basis, at regular intervals in the future will not be approved by Google Shopping Ads. Examples include pretty much anything that users have to subscribe to such as Ads promoting security or medical alert system with recurring payment for subscription, digital content with recurring payment subscriptions. This policy has four exceptions that are:
- Magazines and newspapers subscriptions with recurring billing
- Mobile phones and tablets: In the countries listed here, mobile phones and tablets sold with subscription contracts are allowed. Phones and tablets with installment plans that facilitate the purchase of the device are allowed only in the US, UK, Germany, Ireland, France, Brazil, Mexico, and South Korea
- Software subscriptions that are pre-paid and auto-renew only annually
- In Brazil, recurring billing for all products is allowed
Billing Processed by Product Software
Products that require additional software installation to complete the purchase through online payment methods are no longer allowed to be advertised in Google Shopping. The only example Google’s policies include for this very specific ban (which, to say the truth, I find kind of fair because having to install software to pay for something is not just super annoying, but also totally sketchy) are Ads about digital photo albums that can only be purchased if additional software is installed. I guess something very shady must have happened with a digital photo album of such qualities, right?
And that, my friends, is the complete list of topics to avoid on your Google Shopping Ads, as long as you want to stay out of trouble. As you may have noticed, most of the forbidden subjects revolve around digital stuff and issues that may come along with them, so, after all, it seems like Google actually may be having some platform-security problems to solve, right? Whatever the case, I hope this “Google Shopping for Dummies’ ‘ guide has helped you, and that you were not expecting to launch Ads about any of these items.