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How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

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# 1
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I know that advertising for HCG or even having it on a site that is using AdWords is against TOS. So why are these people still able to get away with it?
http://www.google.com/aclk?sa=L&ai=C1vvkYK0vUP_oFof08AS58YCAB5ub9rwCw-HHmy6Z4PXENQgAEAEgx5j4BSgCUL7_...

http://www.google.com/aclk?sa=l&ai=CNRKeYK0vUP_oFof08AS58YCAB4e86pgC15_t3iCRlP4FCAAQAiDHmPgFKAJQ89O6...

 

 

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Accepted by MosheTLV (Top Contributor)
September 2015

Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

[ Edited ]
Google Employee
# 26
Google Employee

Hi Chili,

 

Moshe's probably on an airplane right now.  He and the other Top Contributors, plus a few other frequent forum posters, have been out here in Mountain View for the last few days.  I was busy with the same event, attending sessions and helping present at one of them.  There were a few announcements about the meeting here on the forums.  They did live hangouts for a couple of the sessions, and I think videos of them may eventually appear on YouTube.

 

I havent finished looking into the HCG issue yet.  But so far, everyone I've talked to has agreed with what I posted above.  We think that you are allowed to use "HCG" and other prohibited drug names keywords as long as you are not actually advertising or selling those prohibited products.  If I'm right, an ad like this would be OK:

 

Tired of snake oil salesmen?

Try medically supervised weight loss.

Visit Dr. Laura's Clinic Today

www.laurasclinic.com

 

I'll try to confirm this tomorrow.  If you've seen information that contradicts this on our policy pages, please post a link to the page here.  If you have previously had ads disapproved when using "HCG" as a keyword, it was probably for a different reason, e.g. one of the other products in the ad or on the site was violating policies.

 

By the way, I learned something about our policy this morning when talking to people about HCG.  We don't actually prohibit it completely.  You can advertise HCG if all of the following are true:

  1. You are a licensed pharmacy with the proper accreditation, and registered with Google.
  2. You are not advertising HCG for the purpose of weight loss or weight control.
  3. You are not advertising HCG in conjuction with steroids.
  4. You are not violating AdWords policies elsewhere on your site or in your account.

I haven't seen anyone actually doing this, though.  The policy on it is here.  (Expand the "Unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements" section.)

 

Laura

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Accepted by MosheTLV (Top Contributor)
September 2015

Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

Google Employee
# 28
Google Employee

Hi Moshe,

 

It was great seeing you again too, and having dinner with you and the others last night.

 

On the Healthcare and Medicines page it says this:

 

> Google AdWords doesn't allow the promotion of the following pharmaceuticals and supplements,

> irrespective of any claims of legality:

....

> Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in relation to weight loss/weight control,

> or when promoted in conjunction with anabolic steroids

 

which I understand to mean that hCG in relation to weight / steroids is banned (regardless of claims of legality) but it is not banned in other contexts (subject to all the other policies).  The lawyer I spoke to this morning interpreted it that way too.

 

I think we're just interpreting the grammar / wording differently.  I'll leave that sort of wordsmithing up to our lawyers and writers; they're better at it than I am.

 

As far as whether hCG should be on that list of drug names when it is not completely banned, I'll leave that to the lawyers too.  But I noticed plain old hCG isn't listed there, just lots of pseudo-hCG products that have it in their name.  It's a non-exhaustive list, though.

 

Apropos of nothing, I was amused by seeing "Homeopathic HCG" on the list.  "Homeopathic" really means that the liquid is so dilute that no molecules of the original substance are likely to be present.  hCG might actually be safer that way.  "At least do no harm."  Apparently many people don't even know what "homeopathic" means and seem to think it means "natural" or "wholesome."

 

Laura

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Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hello Chili;

You are absolutely right;

What is weird is that the robots checking the ads and the landing page did not catch it...

Can you attach a screenshot showing the ads?

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

[ Edited ]
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# 3
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http://i1175.photobucket.com/albums/r635/chilipepper104/f42cae28.jpg

 

http://i1175.photobucket.com/albums/r635/chilipepper104/9b3b984a.jpg

 

Here is a screen cap of one of the companies above that was also double serving for over 8 months using a mirrored site. I reported them to multiple people and they were finally looked into but apparently missed the HCG keywords. They didn't even suspend their accounts, instead they merged them so they wouldn't show two ads at once. They were clearly purposely violating TOS and only got a slap on the wrist.

http://i1175.photobucket.com/albums/r635/chilipepper104/31bd88c3.jpg

 

And they also advertise HCG on the same site that they use for their AdWords account which is also a violation. They also violate the advertising "unrealistic weight loss" policy, by putting 20lbs in 20days, and 40lbs in 40days all over their site. You can see the URL in the pic, I don't want to give a hard link to their site here.

http://i1175.photobucket.com/albums/r635/chilipepper104/c129aa12.jpg

 

Thanks for looking into this.

 

Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Except the weight loss diet supplement violation of the Policy, are you saying that these sites are also double serving (i.e owned by the same business entity?

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer’

Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

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# 5
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They were, but it has been corrected as of last week I was told.

Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

OK;

The policy on HCG is clear:

>> "This page lists examples of pharmaceuticals and supplements that Google AdWords doesn't allow. For more information about this policy,"  (HCG is listed)

 

I am referring the case to Google to comment

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer’

Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

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# 7
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Thanks, I have sent it through the form many times over the past 5-6 months but nothing is ever done.

Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

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# 8
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One of the ads looks like it has been removed, but the other company is still showing for the HCG keyword. I don't know how they are still skirting the system but I wish they would get a manual review.

http://i1175.photobucket.com/albums/r635/chilipepper104/4dc89ee0.jpg

Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

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# 9
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guess I was wrong, the other one is still showing too. I guess maybe they were over their budget last night.

http://i1175.photobucket.com/albums/r635/chilipepper104/e28b0a98.jpg

Re: How do these ads get approved when a clear violation of TOS?

Google Employee
# 10
Google Employee

Hi,

 

I have a couple of possible explanations here:

  • It's possible we just missed these ads in our review process somehow.  We try to catch all this stuff and have both automated and human processes in place, but the incoming ad volume is so high that we do miss things sometimes.  If these were approved by mistake they'll get taken down soon because I've notified the right people.
  • We do allow accredited clinics and pharmacies to advertise prescription drugs.  And HCG is a presecription drug.  I don't know which policy wins here, though -- the ban on HCG or the rule allowing clinics and pharmacies.  (If these ads are allowed, we may need to update the policy center pages to mention this exception for otherwise banned drugs.)

I'm not an expert on this stuff, so I've forwarded this along to some friends on the Policy team and asked for a definitive ruling on whether HCG and weight loss drugs can be advertised by accredited clinics and pharmacies.  I've also asked them to take down the ads if it turns out they're not allowed.

 

I'm also not sure about the "20 pounds in 20 days; 40 pounds in 40 days" thing, so I've asked the policy team about that too.  Normally that would be a clear violation of our policies on "miracle cures" and "unrealistic claims", not to mention the HCG issue.  (A trifecta!)  But again, I'm not sure if that sort of claim is allowed when it's a program under a physician's supervision.  It's possible they have evidence that ~1 lb/day weight loss is possible on the 500 calorie diet plus prescription drug regimen they describe.

 

FWIW, about 6 years ago I managed to lose ~20 lbs in ~3 weeks under very close medical supervision, though the rate tapered off significanty after that.  There was no HCG or other drugs involved, though.  So their claims seem at least vaguely possible to me, to the extent of my ability to judge them as a lay-person.

 

Finally, if you have any evidence of double-serving (the same company advertising under multiple accounts and domains so they get more than one ad shown at once) please post it.  I would love to shut down anyone doing that.

 

I'll try to respond here when I get answers from the policy team, though I'll have to be careful not to violate any advertisers' privacy.

 

Laura

AdWords review engineer