Over the years Google Ads has got better at dealing with advertisers who break their rules.
In today’s lesson, i want to share some experience about how to deal with the Google review system to get ads approved, disapprovals reversed, and keep your ads running smoothly with little interruption.
I want to show you a cool way i’ve learned to get Google to APOLOGISE to you after disapproving your ads and swiftly reverse their decision without asking you to make a single change.
In the early days of “Google Slaps”, if you violated advertising guidelines, that was it. Your ads were stopped, your account was shut down, and there was nothing you could do to get back up and running again. And this is perhaps a good thing, because most of the internet fraudsters who gooroo’d all over the place moved onto other networks and left Google Ads for me to dominate. (Although recently, many of those pricks reared their ugly heads again on YouTube ads where things have been a little lax and Google started cracking down again…but i’ve overcome the challenges there with the same technique i’m about to share)
Google’s rules have only become more strict, and their enforcement more obscure.
The good news, however, is their treatment of advertisers has improved. You can at least get someone on the phone and figure out why your ads were disapproved and what you can do to fix them.
Of course, in reality it isn’t this simple.
Often you’ll get the support staff on the line and they’ll just read back to you the very reason the ad interface says the ad was disapproved–and then recite verbatim from the documentation the possible solutions.
But i’ve found a way to get around the boilerplate responses and get some real answers.
First though, i want to tackle the reason for the obscurity and inconsistency of when ads get disapproved. Nothing is more baffling than to see two very similar ads in your account–one approved and running without issue, the other disapproved for some landing page issue when both are pointing to the same page.
The simple explanation is this.
Google decided some years ago they’re an “Artificial Intelligence First” company. What this means in the context of Google Ads, is the human reviewers and support staff are taking all their cues from machines. In other words, the algorithms decide for some reason your ad is in violation, disapproves it, and when you call to inquire, the human support staff simply JUSTIFIES and RATIONALISES the machine’s decision.
Intuitively, it would make more sense that the humans would be giving direction and feedback to the algorithms, correcting their mistakes. But this isn’t what happens in reality.
A major criticism of machine learning among purists is that most of its algorithms are “black boxes”. Data goes in one end and a decision comes out the other. There’s no explanation for the decision given, you can’t reverse engineer the decision, and it’s not possible to see how the machine arrived at its decision should you want to debug / error check it. In fact, machine learning is accomplished primarily by the algorithm guessing pattern and adjusting its guess by trial and error.
This is what’s really going on at Goole Ads.
No one REALLY knows why your ad was disapproved, only that it was disapproved, and a reference to the policy the Google computers think you violated.
For instance, recently we had a video ad disapproved for Google Ad’s “event tickets policy” which requires one to have a certificate to sell or resell event tickets. However, this client does not sell any kind of tickets. Upon closer inspection, i found in the video she says, “people come up to me at events and say…” This is enough to have triggered the event ticket policy.
So calling support for explanation rarely gets you more information than you would receive in the original disapproval notice.
My first pointer then, is if your ad gets disapproved, you need to firmly and politely ask for a manual, human review. Point out any inconsistencies, and don’t be so easily pushed off the call.
You need human intervention.
Once you get a decision from the manual review, there’s a good chance it will come back NOT in your favour. But don’t give up. Call again and inquire about what specifically is wrong and how you can get your ads approved again.
In many cases they will tell you what to do, just based on their own experience. Some are smarter than others, so if one support rep is useless, have another roll, and call again.
Once you know the potential reason, make the repair, call, and ask for another manual review. Be sure to point out the change you made.
Repeat this politely and patiently until your ad is approved. (manual reviews may take a week or more to complete, so be very, very patient).
A shortcut to getting around this back and forth is to write a compliant page and clean ads from the start.
Here’s the major point you will want to take care of:
I’ve found the most difficult disapprovals to be those related to the “Misleading Claims” policy.
This policy applies to any product the review bot subjectively determines is being oversold–that you are making claims about the results customers will get with the product, but they are not realistically likely to experience.
For example, making $47,327 in one month. Or losing 20 lb in 30 days.
Both claims are considered “possible” but NOT “probable”. I know this seems extremely subjective, because how does anyone know what your product can or cannot do without trying it? I have even argued with the support staff that this is EXTREMELY subjective and that it is on the product and the product creator to prove their claim to be true.
The advice i was given was priceless.
It turns out most of these problems can be easily solved by writing a clear disclaimer early in the page (where a reviewer will not miss it).
In my experience, if you get the disclaimer right, you can sell some surprisingly fun stuff!
AND if they approve you once, any future disapprovals will pass a manual review simply because your disclaimer is there.
This is exactly how i’ve managed to get Google’s support staff to APOLOGISE for disapproving my ads and swiftly approve them manually without making ANY additional change to my ads or landing page whatsoever. I do not have any special pull at Google or an “ad rep” that pushes my ads past policies just to get my big budget money.
But it’s tricky to get that disclaimer right.
So here’s my advice…
Your disclaimer should state what a typical result with the product looks like…it’s not enough to say, “these results are not typical”…you must say what the average consumer of your product (historically) can expect when using your product.
The more specific, the better.
The more damning, the better!
And if there is a money-back guarantee, you should state it there too. If, on the other hand, you don’t want to give refunds, read on i’ll tell you how to handle it (i’ve done both styles and both worked).
So, if for example, you sell a make money product, you would need to say something like the following:
“Most customers of this program earn less than $100 in total.” (Or whatever the average person earns or loses).
Now if you’re looking at this and saying, “Oh shit! This is going to kill my sales!”…then you’re about 80% right.
Here’s the beautiful thing, though, about writing such a disclaimer…
Your refund, chargeback, and complaint rate goes WAY down, to the point it disappears. You’re not going to disappoint anyone who ends up buying because you were very clear about the risk. This is all Google wants from you. To make buying safe for the visitors they send you. They want you to alert them of any risk involved with your product and the extent of that risk. Take comfort in knowing that what you lose in conversions, you save in refunds and chargebacks and support time.
Still though, a disclaimer worded that way would probably kill most possibility of sales.
That is, unless you can spin it in a nice way where you’re being honest and clear about expectations while still selling your product. You’re stating a risk. It is important to creatively then REVERSE that risk in the disclaimer.
This is where your refund policy can really go a long way to help.
Here’s an example of the disclaimer i wrote for our “male enhancement” client:
“Some results featured on this website are not typical. The average person sees a moderate improvement in erectile strength, response, and durability over continued use of our products but we make no guarantee any improvement will occur. Individual results vary based on existing conditions, diet, and age. This is why we have a 60-day no questions asked refund policy on our product range. If you do not notice an improvement, you may request a refund. We additionally encourage and expect you to research our products (see “Free Erection Tricks”), send us questions, consult your doctor, and do due diligence to make an informed buying decision.”
Bear in mind, you don’t need such a lengthy disclaimer. I prefer to be super transparent even if it costs sales (honestly, it doesn’t, people glide past the disclaimer), but i’ve seen advertisers get away with simple one-liners.
Notice the last sentence in the disclaimer…
It reverses risk TOO because it tells them HOW they can avoid making a mistake. Not only that, it even sells them on using our “opt-in” form!
Now if you DON’T offer refunds, simply say that. Telling someone there are no refunds is a type of risk reversal too! (it’s what we teach in the Super Traffic Machine’s 3rd User Manual – Offer)
“All sales are final and at your own risk. So please do due diligence, write to our support, and join our mailing list to ensure this product is a fit for you before purchasing.”
Or something like that.
Such disclaimers set expectations correctly and transparently. Which then frees you up to market your product the way you like in the rest of the page. You can now say, “How this ex homeless beach bum made $57,234 in 30 Days” or whatever crazy result you want to talk about, you cheeky bugger…
Google MIGHT let it fly 😉
So that’s what i have to say about disclaimers for now. And it’s a truly great discovery for getting ads approved in some tough markets.
Of course there’s a LOT more to writing Google compliant ads and websites–disclaimers are just one of many important features of a compliant page. I discuss the rest of them in the DIY Super Traffic Machine series.
So if you love these ideas and want to learn way more intricate details about building solid Google friendly websites, being transparent in advertising while still selling profitably, check out our DIY Super Traffic Machine series. It has step by step instructions, full worked examples from A to Z, for writing amazing websites and ads that work.
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P.S. If you have missed previous messages in the series, check out the following: