Suspended for Mentioning a Word on a Secret Google List
My Google Merchant Center account was just suspended.
For carrying two particular products:
Nutrex Hawaii MD Formula BioAstin Supreme - 60 Capsules (lycopene); and
Natures Formulary Guggul - 60 Capsules (guggul)
These substances are not listed on Google's list of unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements so I called Google AdWords support to find out what the reason for the suspension was. After some investigation, the rep told me that the products contained ingredients, lycopene and guggul, which were on an internal, non-public list of prohibited substances. The rep agreed that it was unclear how I was supposed to know that these substances were prohibited. Furthermore, the BioAstin Supreme does not even contain lycopene, it simply mentions the word lycopene in the description.
On top of it all, these very same products remain widely available on Google Shopping:
I was told that Google simply couldn't police all of these sellers simultaneously...despite the fact that a comprehensive list has already been compiled by their service and it's available on a single webpage from any web browser in the world. (If you are wondering if lycopene can be found on Google Shopping as well..it most certainly can.)
So to recap...
My account has been suspended for carrying products with ingredients (in one case just mentioning the word) on a secret list only available to Google employees. Meanwhile, my competition continues to sell the same products with impunity.
I think you might be better off asking your question on a more dedicated business specific or marketing forum. This community tends to focus on adwords support topics and in general, doesn't have a casual audience that discuss industry specific challenges. I might be wrong but I think you'll get more input in one of the industry specific locations as this particular forum is for help in resolving Google Shopping and merchant center support queries.
How are other sellers in the community suggest that merchants comply with Google's policies when those policies are not made public?
health-care related items may be banned in a specific context --
for example, claims implying effectiveness or when a substance
is combined with other ingredients.
unfortunately, forum-members do not have access to account histories,
the details of the items being submitted, any of google's internal lists,
or how an item was advertised, submitted, or presented to the public --
forum-members can mainly offer suggestions based on the information
that is posted here within the public community forum.
in certain cases, changes can be made to remove a suspension;
if this is at all possible, those steps are typically indicated within
a suspension email from google or when consulting directly with
a merchant-center support-specialist.
otherwise, unfortunately, some suspensions are simply permanent.
seeing similar items on google-shopping may indicate that the details
related to claims or ingredient-combinations fall within current policies,
are under review, the merchants have been flagged but the items are
not yet fully removed, or have simply not been flagged yet.
potential policy violations by others may be reported directly to google.
Re: Lycopene[ Edited ]
October 2015 - last edited October 2015
Thanks, Celebird. But the facts are pretty settled in this case. I was informed by Google that this is not related to claims implying effectiveness. Lycopene is simply prohibited. But Google doesn't publicly disclose that it's prohibited.
Perhaps some other sellers out there would be interested in sharing information about products that they have been flagged for? Perhaps we could shed some light on what substances are on the secret list by sharing our experiences? Please note, this would be entirely in the name of trying to comply with Google's policies.
The list provided in the help center is "non exhaustive" so it's liable to change at any time. I agree with you that it may not be the best way to enforce this but for some substances, there is reason not to disclose them.
I'd reference http://www.legitscript.com/ ( http://www.legitscript.com/products/Lycopene/ ) and see if the product that you're trying to advertise is flagged there. That would be a good indicator that it may be limited or banned in Google Shopping. At the very least, it would be better than trying to compile your own list from various advertisers who don't usually frequent here unless they have a problem.
Sorry there's not more that we can do for you here.
Thank you for the resource. As you can see from the link you provided, lycopene "is, or has been, impermissibly marketed for the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of diseases". That is a cause for concern.
But here's the excerpt from the product I was suspended for:
"Of the approximately 700 known carotenoids, which include the familiar beta carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and lutein, BioAstin Supreme is the king."
Ok, so maybe you could take issue with the BioAstin Supreme claim of supremacy. But that's not what's at stake here. Actually, it's not even the inclusion of lycopene in the product. In fact, the product has NO lycopene in it. It's the mention of the word lycopene. A Google rep confirmed this to me on the phone.
Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep red color of tomatoes. Should I also expunge all discussion of tomatoes from my website? This sounds absurd but absent clear guidelines, there's no reason to think that tomatoes, which contain lycopene, should be considered safe.
first, you're welcome.
words that trigger a suspension and that suspension
being reevaluated by a person are rather different.
as an aside, the act of sharing a list of words or products that
can trigger disapprovals, suspensions, or related policy reviews,
may be seen as attempting to circumvent the review processes --
which is itself a policy violation.