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Understand Google's advertising policies, including ad approval status and account suspension
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Is "eLiquid" allowed, or not?

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# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I placed an ad after seeing ads on Google for eLiquid, and the Google Adwords TOS not having eLiquids listed as a prohibited item.   My ad was sent for review, where it was not displayed on the network unless Google approves it.   Instead of a decline or acceptance, my Adwords account was terminated.   (note I had an advertising problem with using ecigs in a title over a year ago when I first signed up and didn't realize the restriction...which I guess never drops off)

According to the TOS for Adwords:
"Google AdWords doesn't allow the promotion of most tobacco or tobacco-related products. The promotion of tobacco or tobacco-related products includes cigarettes, cigars, tobacco pipes, rolling papers, electronic cigarettes, and e-cigarette cartridges."

My ad did not have any TOS offending terms, nor does the website list any of the prohibited items in the TOS.
"Vapor Liquids Now"  -  "Shop by flavor to refill your vapor devices.  Coupons & Deals"
(no violating terms)
google 1.jpg

 

If you search Google for "vapor cigarettes" you will see 6 other paid ads pointing to sites selling eLiquids.  In addition, several of those sites are selling electronic cigarettes right from the landing page.   I also noticed that two big players, like eBay and Yahoo, are both allowed to advertise where I am not.

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I contacted support where the rep basically didn't care and provided no explanation except a canned message.  He refused to provide a link to the policy where eLiquid is not allowed.   He stated that the other sites are using different terms, yet when you visit the sites you see "electronic cigarette" (a clear violation) and "eLiquid" which is not listed as a prohibited item.   How is that a different term being advertised?
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Or the eBay Link which has tobacco advertised:

google-tob.jpg

 

And the list goes on:

google-ecig.jpg

 

So how can all these companies advertise on Google Adwords without any problem, but when I go to run an advertisement I get my account terminated for eLiquid?   I don't even list the prohibited items like all these other companies:  

google2.jpg

 

This creates unfair competition in the marketplace between competitors/businesses.   California applied the UCL to unfair business practices which affect business competitors.   Where some Google employees will approve the ads without issue, others take a personal approach and suspend accounts because they don't like smoking.  It appears there is some personal bias against smoking and how ads are approved.

So the question is.... Are you allowed to advertise "eLiquid" or not?   The policy/TOS does not state that its prohibited, but I lost my account over it.  If its not allowed, then why are all these other companies are allowed to advertise?   (and yes, I pointed this all out to adwords support and they didn't care).

1 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Is "eLiquid" allowed, or not?

Follower ✭ ✭ ✭
# 2
Follower ✭ ✭ ✭
Hello Jonathan,

I cannot fully answer your whole question as I lack expertise with regards to the tobaco/ecig policies, so I'll wait for others to hopefully chime in. I just wanted to comment on the "Adwords support didn't care" part. While I understand that your situation may be frustrating, Adwords support simply tell you to report the ad, which is not "not caring" but simply making sure your complain goes through the appropriate channels and is dealt with by someone who has the authority to deal with it.

Why your account was terminated and what others are running require more expertise with regards to this specific policy which hopefully someone else can chime in and clarify.

Thanks!

Re: Is "eLiquid" allowed, or not?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Dear Akkari,

I'm sure there are many good support representatives at Google. Unfortunately I am dealing with one that does not care much about providing quality service outside of canned messages.

As a support person representing Google Adwords I had expected better assistance. I had asked for assistance and the rep was not able to tell me anything except the account was suspended. Like I didn't know that already.

When I replied back indicating the many other ads running and the fact that "eliquid" is not listed as a prohibited item, the support rep said to report those ads. If e-liquid was listed as prohibited then I could understand, but its not.

So yes, I can report those ads. BUT as I originally asked in my question.... Is "e-liquid" allowed or not? Why should I report ads which appear to be in compliance, as I thought I was in compliance when I submitted my ad. When I placed the ad there were many other ads with websites selling the same exact thing I do...e-liquid. There is no reference to e-liquid in the Adwords prohibited items. It appeared that I was ok to submit the ad because of other advertisers with the same product and no mention of eLiquid.

Instead I get my account terminated with little support or explanation from support except some canned message while other businesses are allowed to show their ads.

To top it all all, many of those sites with ads for e-liquid are also selling -electronic cigarettes- on their site, which --IS-- against Adwords TOS.

I'm under so much scrutiny that a submitted ad for approval (which was never even shown) caused my account to be terminated/suspended, but all these other companies are ok? How did those ads get through for not only eLiquid, but also selling Electronic cigarettes?

Yes, I would like someone with some expertise to the policy to chime in.

Re: Is "eLiquid" allowed, or not?

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor
Jonathan;
Thanks for opening a new discussion on this;
e-liquids, e-cigarettes, etc... all substitutes to cigarettes are not allowed.
The case was escalated to Google for investigation.
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: Is "eLiquid" allowed, or not?

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thank you for the input!    As an advertiser who just had their account terminated over a rule not in writing....where does it say that?

According to the TOS for Adwords:
"Google AdWords doesn't allow the promotion of most tobacco or tobacco-related products. The promotion of tobacco or tobacco-related products includes cigarettes, cigars, tobacco pipes, rolling papers, electronic cigarettes, and e-cigarette cartridges."

1) There is no mention of the flavored liquid which could be used many ways.
2) There are many other companies using Adwords to advertise eLiquid
3) Your reply " all substitutes to cigarettes are not allowed" is actually not true because all the other alternatives to smoking are advertised.  (ie.  nicotine patch, nicotine gum)  How is flavored liquid any different which may or may not even contain nicotine?

 

If it is a prohibited item then it should be listed as such in the Adwords TOS.   When an advertiser looks at the TOS and does not see a restriction on an item AND views competitors advertising the same product, it appears to be safe to advertise the same.  I did and lost my account while other still advertise and the TOS still does not state that restriction.

Re: Is "eLiquid" allowed, or not?

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

We have asked Google to clarify this point. However; note that that Google allows to promote products to help quit smoking, but does not allow substitutes / alternatives, that their goal is not to help quit smoking... (The term alternative might not be the "best" to use, but, this is  the language Google uses in the Policy.)


Now we could start arguing whether e-cigarettes help quit smoking or not. The common notion is that it does not. (And Google thinks the same.... )  Smiley Surprised 

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: Is "eLiquid" allowed, or not?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
I've already issued several complaints against companies such as eBay, Alibaba and Amazon and they're all still up and running.

Re: Is "eLiquid" allowed, or not?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 8
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Regardless of what their TOS actually says, they will still prevent the small guy from advertising. I removed every reference to "herbs" on my site and used the exact words on TOS - "for aromatherapy use only" - and I was then told that my account would remain suspended simply because the SHAPE of my product was too similar to an eCigarette!!! They're really insane and always move the bar when you've met the ones they've already set.

Re: Is "eLiquid" allowed, or not?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hello Melissa! 

 

I agree with you.   They make the rules as they personally feel at the time of your complaint.  When you think you have complied with all their demands, they come up with more reasons to not allow the advertising.  (Unless of course you are spending thousands of dollars with them like eBay does). 

 

I've asked Adwords support several times for the URL and worded text where eLiquid, or liquid nicotine, is not allowed.   They keep just saying my account was terminated and will not justify their actions with legitimate proof of a violation other than their own "personal" reason for suspending my account.

 

If in fact the Adwords TOS stated that eLiquids were not permitted then I would 100% understand that I was in the wrong.   Where they clearly list electronic cigarettes and many other items, they don't cover the eLiquid or any similar term.   In the meantime, there are MANY advertisers which have ads running which not only have the questionable eliquid, but an absolute violation by having "electronic cigarettes" clearly listed on their site in both text and image form.

 

MoshTLV, I appreciate your comments and insight on the issue.  But why isn't eLiquid (or similar term) listed as a prohibited item.   I'm suspended for "tobacco" but that particular rule / prohibited item is not disclosed to advertisers and why are those current ads allowed.

Also note that eLiquids may or may not contain nicotine.   In fact, nicotine is barely even mentioned on the website.   Look at this page for example:  Vanilla

After looking at that page, and my ad which does not list anything prohibited, AND eLiquid is not listed as a prohibited item AND there are other advertisers....how can Google Adwords fairly enforce such an action on me?   (its either about the $$$ or personally biased decisions by the employees who approve ads)

Re: Is "eLiquid" allowed, or not?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 10
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
I got an email yesterday from support:

"We’d like to let you know that your account is currently under review and we’re prioritizing this over other issues you may have written to us about. Our Specialists already know about this issue, and an investigation is underway. We periodically review accounts for security purposes and to verify billing information. We'll send you an update after the investigation is complete, typically within three business days."

With any luck they will see they were wrong because eLiquid is not listed and I'm not advertising any of the prohibited items.