Google Lays Out Content Guidelines

Google has published its long-awaited AdWords content policy, which outlines what is and is not acceptable in its text ads.

“We’ve added more information about our advertising policies to our Web site. These aren’t new policies, we’ve just made available more information about them,” said Google spokesperson Steve Langdon.

Some policies, such as those prohibiting ads for gambling or prescription drugs, have been published in the past. According to Langdon, the newly published policies have always been followed when a questionable ad was submitted. Advertisers would be told about Google’s problems with an ad through a dialogue with the advertiser.

In the past, Google’s secretive ad policies caused frustration to advertisers. Some who had ads rejected raised free speech issues, such as a t-shirt seller and environmental activist group Oceana.

“It finally clarifies many of the types of ads that Google won’t accept. Until this was posted, you wouldn’t realize that some ads wouldn’t be accepted until after you applied to advertise,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch.

Because Google kept its policies to itself, it was difficult to know ahead of time that wine ads would be accepted, while beer and hard liquor ads would not. Or that disagreeing with a candidate might be permissible, but advocating against an organization, person, or protected group is not allowed.

This will undoubtedly save time for sellers of urine test additives, bulk messaging software, cable descramblers, fake IDs, drug paraphernalia, fireworks, miracle cures, or prostitution, who may have been unclear as to whether their ad would be accepted by Google.

“Google is committed to providing an advertising service with fair and consistent policies that benefit our users, advertisers, partners, and Google. To achieve this goal, we maintain high standards for ads accepted into the AdWords program,” according to the policy.

Other taboo topics include auto-dialers, gambling sites, hacking tools, devices that unlock copyright protection, radar jammers, child pornography, tobacco, or weapons. Solicitation of funds is only permitted by government-registered charities and political fundraising.

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