On Google’s path to full strictness: Watch out for strike three!

There was a not-so-long-ago past where the sun was shining, and all we had to be worrying about was Google not shutting our accounts down and, in order to do that, all we had to do was stay out of their way by avoiding violating their content policies, at least the most important ones. So, if we did violate some minor rule, our Ads would get removed and that would be it, as long as we didn’t do anything terrible enough that would get us out of Google Ads forever. Well, I’m sorry to let you know that, from today and on, that’s not what the world looks like. 

As for today, Google Ads announced a new system of actions to take whenever a user repeatedly violates any (no matter how minor) content policy or rule. Basically, from now on, the idea is that, whenever someone goes against their rules, instead of just banning their content, they also do something to prevent the user from trying to do it again. Of course, it’s not the same if you do it once than if you repeatedly try to violate Google’s rules, and given that situation the system is different for the different scenarios of breach. 

And since one of our favorite topics to dive into is Google’s restrictions updates, today we’ll be going through everything there is to know about their most recent one, how it affects publishers, and whether or not we believe this is a good idea. So, if you are also all about discussing the ups and downs of Google’s policies, then let’s jump right into it! 

So let’s start by explaining what this new update will consist of. Basically, it’s a pilot program that will test a three-strikes system for publishers who continuously violate Google’s Enabling Dishonest Behavior, Unapproved Substances, and Dangerous Products or Services policies (this includes ads promoting deceptive behavior or products such as the creation of false documents, hacking services, and spyware, as well as tobacco, drugs, and weapons, among other types of content). Of course, Google already had prohibited and banned Ads that did not fulfill their requirements towards these subjects, but now they are trying out a system that introduces increasing penalties with each strike applied. 

Understanding the basics of the increasing penalty system, we’ll now dive into what really is a strike, and which will be the penalties according to each case scenario. 


On the first stage of the content violation policy, we have the very first act of launching an ad that is directly against Google’s rules (and, of course, some tech giants approve campaigns that shouldn’t). For example, let’s say you launch ads promoting your document falsification services, and, of course, Google realizes that you shouldn’t have, so what happens? You have a warning. In this case, the penalty is the removal of the ad. Just that? Yep, just that. That ad that you invested time and money in, even when you knew that you shouldn’t launch it, is now gone forever. 

First strike 

So let’s say you received a warning and lost your ad. And now, it’s been almost three months since the incident, and you figure it’s time to give it another try to your document-falsification ad. And, on day 89 after you received your warning, you go ahead and launch that advertising campaign again. Uh-oh, Google knows that you are trying to violate their rules again, and it’s been less than 90 days since the first time, so what happens? Strike one happens. Your account is put on hold for three days, during which no ads will be eligible to run. 

Second strike 

So you took those three days to hang around on the beach, and go through an ad-detox before you went back to the game. And now, it’s been, again, almost three months since your first strike, so why not give it another try, eh? A little try to your harmless ad about the falsification of documents, who could it possibly damage? Well, your account. Strike two comes in when it’s been less than 90 days since your second strike, and you are trying again to launch the policy-violating advertising campaigns. In this stage, your account will be placed on a temporary hold for seven days, during which ads will not be eligible to run.

Third strike 

So now you’ve had a week to clear your mind and think about what you did wrong. But you came back, and close to the 90 days since the second strike, you feel tempted again. And you can’t help it, you need to advertise your document falsification services on day 89, you just have to. And you do. And Google knows. And what happens? Well, strike three is not as forgiving as one and two; so you can kiss your Google Ads account goodbye because after strike three it gets permanently shut down. 

Basically, that’s all that happens in every stage of Google’s grief. Every time you have a strike, you get an email letting you know so you can correct it and, after the first and second ones, you will be required to correct the violations and submit an acknowledgment form in order to resume serving Ads. So, once you send it, if your account continues functioning normally and is violation-less, then the strike expires and your account is all good again. It is pretty clear to me that, by implementing this new system, Google is not only trying to guarantee that no ads with violations go live, but also trying to get publishers to learn their policies. 

To conclude, I believe all that amount of strikes is a bit too forgiving, I mean, if you are actually creating penalties, then you can’t wait for a user to violate the policies for the fourth time in a lapse of a year, come on! In my opinion, Google should reduce it to one warning and two strikes, and then you are out (even though it doesn’t sound as cool). But hey, who am I to judge their decisions? So we might as well hang in and see how these new policies do.

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