Blog and interview

Google ads get disapproved every day for numerous reasons and this can lead to a waste of time and resources. Today I’m going to talk about why your Google ads might get disapproved and what you can do to avoid that dreaded error.

I sat down (virtually) with the lead programmer at OctoHub, Robert Purdy, and head of customer success, Christina Ryan to get a base of what causes this to happen.

Christina jumped in right away, “a lot of the time it’s technical reasons and policy. Sometimes an organization is trying to sell financial information, or the site is throwing a 500 error” in which Robert continued to get more specific: “There are two parts to it: policy which is you’ll never get approved, for instance, if you’re selling alcohol or have explicit sexual content on your site, and the other is a policy violation, for example, there is copyright inside ad text, the site is broken, or you have spam malicious software on the site”.

There are also some verticles in which Google requires extra approval. If you’re a locksmith, for example, you’ll need some extra verification.  Learn more about advanced verification here and apply for advanced verification here.

Extra approval can take a while. Google will oftentimes quote 24 hours, however, the approval can end up taking a few days.

Robert brings up a great point in “the good news is that Google is strict, the bad news is that Google is strict”. It helps consumers when Google is strict with their ads giving the best possible consumer experience. It can be challenging and annoying for a business when they are trying to run legit advertisements.

Pro tip from Christina: “Use Ad Extensions to highlight free offers, or text containing numbers and characters, such as 10% off.”

I wanted to gather specific help for businesses to be able to follow. A few hours after the interview Robert sent me a list of common areas that will cause disapprovals as well as some advice for businesses.

 What to avoid and advice

 1. Solicitation of funds:

Soliciting funds or donations is only allowed if you’re a politician, political party, or tax-exempt charity, and only when the tax-exempt status, charity or tax exemption number is clearly stated on the ad’s destination.

 2. Use Https 

This is Preferred by Google.

 3. There is more than one final URL per ad group

You can’t use more than one URL in an ad group. All ads must have the same final URL, or it can get disapproved.

4. If there’s a Destination mismatch

If a Crawled URL does not match the specified final URL. URLs in different ads could be pointing to a different domain.

5. If the Destination is not working

Server Errors 500. Google cannot crawl the final URL.

 6. Trademarks in ad copy

Using another business’s brand in your ad copy will get ads disapproved.

7. Capitalization in ad copy

Using gimmicky capitalization like FREE or NOW can get your ad disapproved

8. Using Punctuation and symbols in ad copy

Using improperly formatted punctuation like NOW!!!!! FREE!!!

 9. Using a Phone number in ad copy

10. Repetition in ad copy

Using the same term over and over in the ad copy will get your ad disapproved.

11. Malicious Software

Bad code or scripts on your site.

12. Copyrighted content

Using copyrighted material in ad copy

 13. Misrepresentation 

Using the bait and switch model. Inaccurate pricing, or trying to scam.

14. Inappropriate content 

Nudity, violence, drugs, guns etc… on the landing page.

15. Dishonest behaviour

Spyware, hacking, selling confidential data.

16. Dangerous services or products

Drugs, knives, guns, explosives

17. Restricted Targeting

Ad is fine but you may be trying to target only rich people or certain locations and that can throw the error

18. Industry disapprovals  

Locksmith, garage door services, housing services, medical, credit, employment, immigration, this needs further approval.

19. Financial products and services

Learn more specifically what you can and can’t do with advertising financial services here

20. Numbers and special characters in ad text

21. The word ‘free’ in ad text

22. Broad keyword terms


Pro tip from Christina: “Use Ad Extensions to highlight free offers, or text containing numbers and characters, such as 10% off.”

Full policy:


Author: Jack Lavorato

Jack is a summer intern at OctoHub, starting at the Ivey Business School at Western University in the fall. In his free time, Jack enjoys playing Golf, Basketball and writing a blog of his own where his comedy really shines. Jack also feels weird about writing in the third person and pretending someone else is writing this “about the author”. He hopes people think the “comedy really shines” line was written by a third party.