MacAdam Lea
By MacAdam Lea | SEM | April 17, 2015

Google Ad Policies: Restricted Content

In the first blog of this series we covered Prohibited Content and the different goods and services that you can’t advertise on Google, like counterfeit goods or explosives. Then we covered Prohibited Practices and the specific rules that Google makes everyone follow if they want to run PPC ads. This week we’ll be wrapping up the series with an overview of Google’s Restricted Content policies. These are products and services that may be legally or culturally sensitive; you can advertise for them as long as you follow some guidelines that we’ll cover below.



Googles works hard to avoid showing Restricted Content where it may be inappropriate. The promotions for Restricted Content may not show to every user in every location, and advertisers may need to meet additional requirements before their ads are eligible to run. I’ll be covering some of the highlights, but for a full list of what counts as Restricted Content just follow this link to the AdWords Policies homepage.

Alcoholic Beverages

While promoting alcoholic beverages, you may not do any of the following:

  • Violate applicable laws and industry standards for any location that your campaign targets
  • Target individuals below the legal drinking age
  • Imply that drinking alcohol can improve social, sexual, professional, intellectual, or athletic standing
  • Portray excessive drinking in a positive light or feature binge or competition drinking
  • Show alcohol being consumed in conjunction with the operation of a vehicle of any kind 

Adult-oriented Content

While promoting adult content, you may not do any of the following:

  • Violate applicable laws or regulations for any location that your campaign targets
  • Promote sexually explicit content
  • Target minors
  • Advertise for international bride services
  • Advertise for dating services
  • Advertise for adult merchandise
  • Promote escort services or other services that may be interpreted as providing sexual acts in exchange for compensation

Healthcare-related Content

Google restricts the promotion of healthcare-related content such as the following:

  • Online and offline pharmacies
  • Clinical trial recruitment
  • Over-the-counter medication
  • Prescription medication and information about prescription medication
  • Medical devices and tests
  • Pregnancy and fertility-related products and services
  • Medical services and procedures

They also make the point that there may be additional restrictions on certain types of content (unapproved pharmaceuticals/supplements for example) depending on what you’re promoting and where you’re promoting it. Make sure to do the homework before you start running ads for a product that could be illegal in certain areas.

Gambling-Related Content

When promoting gambling related content, you need to do the following:

  • Ensure you don’t target minors
  • Clearly display information on your website about responsible gambling
  • Meet local licensing requirements for all gambling-related products and services that you’re promoting
  • Comply with applicable laws and industry standards for any location that your campaign targets
  • Avoid promotion of online games played for money or prizes
  • Avoid promotion of online casino-based games, regardless of whether money is exchanges

As a final step, you’re going to need to contact Google to receive pre-authorization from Google before promoting any gambling related content.

That wraps up my series on the various Google Advertising Policies. Remember these are just general guidelines, most of which won’t apply to the average company running ads on Google. The important thing is to go through and make sure you know which policies apply to your industry before you activate any campaigns. Just like governmental law, Google doesn’t view ignorance of its policies as an excuse to violate them.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll PP-See you all next time!

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