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Your Ads Are Approved, But...

Posted by drew on Feb. 10, 2016, 8:25 a.m.

In Google AdWords, there are many statuses your ads can have, some of which you set, and some of which you have no control over. When you first create ads, they are Pending, for instance, until Google has a chance to review them, then they become Eligible to be shown, or Disapproved. But that doesn’t even come close to explaining the nuances of ad statuses in AdWords. For this post, I want to cover a few special cases for approved ads.

Approved (limited)

This status indicates that your ads could potentially run, but perhaps only under certain circumstances--maybe within certain regions or only on certain devices. Your ads could end up in this realm for a variety of reasons:

  • If your landing page provides a bad user experience on mobile devices, your ads could be marked as limited to be excluded from mobile impressions entirely.
  • If you are advertising some sort of legally controlled item (such as alcohol or gambling services), then your ads may be limited by geographic location. Different countries have varying advertising laws for certain products.
  • If your ad copy contains a trademarked term (even by accident), you may be limited by region. These ads will be eligible to run in regions where the trademark owner has not filed a complaint. You can also contact the trademark owner to request authorization and gain further ad distribution.
  • If you are advertising something for which a consumer advisory has been issued (a warning about the risks of a particular product, issued by a government agency) then your ads are still eligible to run, but only if a user’s search queries show exact-match intent for that particular product or service.

For some advertisers, there won’t be much of a choice about being in a limited distribution, given the product or service they are advertising. But for other advertisers may find themselves accidentally marked as limited because of a particular choice of ad copy or landing page.


Approved (non-family)

Advertising that isn’t necessarily adult or sexually explicit in nature, but still contains mature content may be given the “non-family” status. This can affect your ad impressions in a number of ways:

  • Certain countries prohibit non-family advertisements altogether.
  • Users using Google search with the Safe Search filter will not be shown ads marked as non-family.
  • Websites in the Google Display Network can choose to exclude non-family content from showing up on their sites.
  • So a non-family status can impact your ad impressions on the country level, the site level for display, and the individual user level.


Approved (adult)

If ads are determined to be of a sexual nature, they will be given this status. Usually, this status is reserved for ads that point to sites with nude images, or ads that promote services to help users find sexual partners. The limitations on adult ads are very similar to the limitations for non-family ads, however there is one additional restriction. Even if a user is searching Google without Safe Search on, they must still be using search terms with explicitly adult language in order to see ads marked as adult. This is similar to the consumer advisory restriction explained above.

Google AdWords should never be a “set it and forget it” activity, but that is especially true if you find yourself in one of these limited statuses when you don’t need to be. These statuses can greatly reduce your ad impressions and visibility, effectively nullifying all of the effort you’ve done to research and build PPC campaigns.