When all is said and done, the message in your PPC ad gets the click. Sure, you have to deliver the ad in front of the right audience at the right time. But the text is what compels searchers to willingly click on an ad.
But before you even have the chance to deliver that message, you have to get approval from the powers that be; in this case, Google AdWords. See, there are two essential components of your ad messaging in PPC – what you say and how you say it, and the “rules.”
The rules are contained in the AdWords policy, which lays the groundwork for what you can and can’t say when you advertise with Google. They exist because Google wants to give all advertisers a fair shot right out of the gate. All else equal, the most creative wins.
If you’re not following AdWords policy, your ad won’t be approved. So let’s explore the most common reasons ads don’t get approved based on the guidelines set forth by AdWords.
1. Editorial Standards
Rule No. 1: keep it nice and tidy. AdWords doesn’t want your ads to assault Web searchers with unnecessary punctuation, capitalization, symbols or any other tricks that try to get an ad to stand out.
That’s why the editorial guidelines have specific rules that address some of these gimmicky tactics. Specifically, this AdWords policy asks advertisers to look at the following in their text:
- Punctuation and symbols: Exclamation marks, repeated punctuation and symbols are all no-nos.
- Capitalization: Excessive capitalization and intercapitalization are not allowed unless they’re part of a trademark, brand name or product name, or part of a coupon code, abbreviation or acronym.
- Grammar and spelling: AdWords cares about the professional level of your ads. And you should, too. It can be a huge turnoff if your ad has misspellings or bad grammar. So this rule of keeping your writing clean is helpful as a second pair of “editorial” eyes.
- Repetition: Don’t repeat words as a means to emphasize the ad. Messaging like “Deals, Deals and More Deals” should stay at the drug store discount bin where it belongs.
- Spacing: Believe it or not, people have invented spacing as a way to try to grab attention for their ads. Here’s an example via AdWords of what not to do:
If your ad is disapproved, edit it to the editorial standards, and resubmit. But be careful; if you have several violations of this nature, or it’s a serious violation, Google warns that your AdWords account could be suspended.
Oftentimes, ads won’t be approved due to trademarks. In fact, AdWords has strict guidelines on the use of trademarks. From the Google AdWords trademark policy:
If a trademark owner files a complaint with Google about the use of their trademark in AdWords ads, Google will investigate and may enforce certain restrictions on the use of that trademark in AdWords text ads.
If you use a trademark in your ad, make sure you meet the requirements of this AdWords policy:
- Ad campaigns may use a trademark in the ad’s text if they are targeting the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom or Ireland, and if the ad is in compliance with AdWords rules on resellers and informational sites. AdWords outlines those rules in detail in the policy referenced in the link above.
- Advertisers can use a trademarked term in an ad text if authorized to do so from the trademark owner. The trademark owner must send Google AdWords the necessary paperwork stating the advertiser can use the term.
A few other conditions of the policy:
- It’s OK to use a trademarked term if the ad “uses the term descriptively in its ordinary meaning rather than in reference to the trademark,” the policy states.
- It’s also fine to use a trademarked term if the ad is “not in reference to the goods or services corresponding to the trademarked term,” according to the policy.
- Google states it will also not investigate or restrict the use of trademark terms in keywords, even if a trademark complaint is received.
When the trademark use is in question, you’ll likely see one of two messages as the advertiser; each have different action items:
- Approved (limited): Your ad is in compliance, but only in the regions of the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Ireland. It won’t run elsewhere. If you want it to run in other countries, according to the policy, you can “remove the trademark term from your ad text, or contact the trademark owner to request authorization.”
- Disapproved: Your ad won’t run. Head over to your AdWords account to view the message associated with the “Disapproved” status to find out why, and remedy.
AdWords policies like the editorial standards and trademark rules are there for good reason: to protect the integrity of the ads run on Google. So the next time you’re tempted to put an exclamation point on your ad for extra “oomph,” or you want to compare your soda product to Coca-Cola, think twice.
Thoughtful copywriting can be several times more effective than some of those easy-way-out methods that some advertisers attempt to take.