3 Strikes and You’re Banned! Google Ads New ‘Strike’ System Explained – Transcript

All we can do is hope that they improve their customer service to the point where you can actually have a good back and forth about adverts and they don’t just blankly strike down ads that aren’t actually in violation because their algorithms detect it or maybe their manual reviewers are either lazy or incompetent.


Guys, another week goes by, and yet another update from Google. Google have now put into place what’s called a three-strike system, and it’s a way for them to manage advertisers in terms of policy violations. Now, as you know, advertising on Google means you have to obey their policies, otherwise, you get kicked off the platform. It’s really important you hear this update because you don’t want to get three strikes and lose your account. Let’s go into a bit more detail about this policy change and why Google have done this.

First of all, this strike system is coming into play in the 1st of September 2021, so not too long away until this new system starts rolling out. The reason they’re doing it is to make sure they have a fair and even-handed way of managing policy violations to give all advertisers a chance to rectify mistakes and to make sure repeat offenders are actually banned in the right way because there’s not much consistency at the moment between somebody who violates the policy. Somebody might get banned, somebody might just get a warning. What this policy is designed to do is make things even across the whole of the platform.

How exactly is this strike system supposed to work? Well, take a look at this. This is the system they’re going to use. Technically, they call it three strikes, but in actual fact, you get four lives, you get four opportunities, I suppose. The first thing is a warning where they just literally say to you, “Hey, you’re doing this. You’re violating our policy here. Here’s a warning. Don’t do it again. You won’t get any penalties, and all you need to do is remove the violating materials or ads.” That’s it.

First strike is the violation of the same policy which you’ve received warning from within 90 days, meaning that in a 90-day period after your first warning, you need to behave for three months before you can get another strike, otherwise you will get that strike against your account. The account placed on strike will be placed on a temporary hold for three days, meaning you cannot run ads for three days if you violate the policy in that regard.

The second strike, again, a 90-day period has to pass before you reset your lives. If you violate again within 90 days, you get your second strike and the account is on hold for seven days. A whole week the account will be on hold for. Finally, the third strike is a violation for the same policy. Again, if you do this again with a 90-day period of your first warning, then your account is finished. You cannot advertise on Google anymore. You might think this sounds really, really harsh, but in actual fact, the violations for this strike system are only for the most heinous of crimes in Google’s eyes. It’s not necessarily for basic policy violations, maybe you’ve used punctuation in an ad.

Don’t worry if you’ve used invalid punctuation, you’re not going to get a strike for something as simple as that. The reason you’d get a strike are for three specific types of violation. The three policies you need to be very aware of that you make sure you don’t violate are: enabling dishonest behavior, unapproved substances, and dangerous products or services. Now, these are the highest of crimes in Google’s eyes because they provide the worst experience for advertisers because, of course, these are pretty serious violations.

Enabling dishonest behavior,. Let’s start with that one. Very simple one not to violate. Basically, don’t do fraud. Do not trick advertisers by doing fraud or enabling fraud. By enabling fraud by creating false documents for example, or providing illegal services that enable people to be dishonest or enabling people to commit fraud, then, of course, that’s a serious policy violation. That’s something Google are going to crack down on and you’re going to get strikes for.

The next one is unapproved substances. Now, you can imagine what this one relates to. If you’re selling pharmaceutical services in areas you’re not licensed to or you don’t have a license at all and you’re selling medication across the internet or even illegal drugs, of course, then that means you’re in violation of the policy and Google, again, will crack down on your account. I’m hoping people listening to this video aren’t in violation of these two policies in particular.

Finally, dangerous products or services are pretty self-explanatory. Just don’t sell guns or grenades or anything like knives that can harm anybody. Now, this is obviously a policy that Google are very serious about because, of course, this can cause harm in the real world to people outside of Google Ads. This is a policy they’re going to take very, very seriously.

I’d imagine most people watching will not probably be in violation of these three policies, or will they? The reason I said you might be in violation of these policies even if you’re not producing false documents or selling pharmaceuticals illegally or selling firearms is because the way Google works, is all algorithmic. They can interpret a perfectly legitimate, safe advert and decide that it’s in violation of a particular policy.

Here’s a perfect example. I work with an exhibitions company and their next exhibition they’re going to be selling towards is in the pharmaceutical industry, so they are bidding on the name of this particular conference and the conference has the word pharma in. Now, the ads have been disapproved, I’ve had a back and forth with Google trying to get all of the ads approved, and is proving to be a complete nightmare. That is the problem.

Google, under this new system, may give my account a strike because of that, saying that I’m trying to sell pharmaceutical products without the right licensing or without the right ability to do so. They’re trying to accuse me of doing that potentially under this new system when actually all I’m trying to do is sell to exhibitors at a pharmaceutical exhibition. A very different story. I’m not the only one who thinks like this when it comes to Google’s ability to rate adverts with algorithms or even with a manual review. Check this article out from Search Engine Land.

Check out this article from Search Engine Land, because there are plenty of people in the PPC industry who think that Google are going to get this wrong. This explains the process like I have just done, but also if you look down here, you’ll see the policies on the issue, there’s the unequal and sometimes plain incorrect application of the policy. This happens to everyone who’s in PPC. I’m sure you’ve had ads that have been disapproved for the wrong reasons. There are ludicrous reasons for disapprovals.

In fact, check out some of these texts as well in some of these tweets, because, of course, this person here tweeting says, “We need to be able to liaise with Google because they’ve had a text now selling rugs and carpets disapproved for sexual content and finance ads pulled up for recreational drugs.” The person here actually says sometimes it feels like the ads team might be drinking while reviewing our ads.”

Ginny, the ad liaison at Google, who formerly used to work for this publication, says she assures them that there’s no drinking during ad reviews and they’ve passed the feedback along to the teams. How far the feedback will go, I’m not too sure, but the potential impact is huge because a three-strike system means if you do go three times or even four times with the warning as well and violate the same policy even if you aren’t actually violating the policy, if Google deem you to be violating the policy, then there will be massive issues because your account will be banned and then your business could potentially crumble if you rely on Google Ads as an income.

Again, here’s another one. Given Google’s total subjective ad policies beyond inconsistent enforcement, looks like a massive headache for advertisers. This is a problem for us, and it’s true. Ad disapprovals occur from honest advertisers as well. Google definitely needs to make sure they have the infrastructure to make sure that they can actually get this right because getting it wrong could be completely catastrophic for advertisers.

There you have it. Google are going to roll this out in September. There’s nothing we can do about it. All we can do is hope that they improve their customer service to the point where they can actually have a good back and forth about adverts and they don’t just blankly strike down ads that aren’t actually in violation because their algorithms detect it or maybe their manual reviewers are either lazy or incompetent.

Either way, hopefully, Google will have the right manpower in-house to be able to review ads to make sure they don’t cancel campaigns or even cancel accounts completely that are legitimate and running a fair practice in terms of their business. Thank you guys so much for watching this video. Let me know in the comments what you think of this policy change. Do you trust Google to get this right? Do you think it’s a good thing? Do you think it’s a bad thing? If you’re not sure either way, just ask me anything about PPC, I’ll be more than happy to have a chat with you down in the comments.

Like this video if you like it. Don’t forget to subscribe. Check out the other videos across my channel, and I’ll see you guys on my next video.

Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a PPC and digital marketing expert with over 10 years experience in delivering winning campaigns and training the next generation of marketing leaders.

View all posts

As Seen on YouTube

sem academy youtube

Subscribe Here