AdWords is now Google Ads. Our new name reflects the full range of advertising options we offer across Search, Display, YouTube, and more. Learn more

Ads
3.5K members online now
3.5K members online now
For questions related to Google Shopping and Merchant Center. Learn to optimize your Shopping ads
Guide Me
star_border
Reply

Merchant Feed Suspension

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

This case has been going around in circles now since mid-August, and I am getting increasingly frustrated at not being able to come to a workable solution or receive any actionable feeback from AdWords reps

 

As some background I run a small company selling food supplements in the UK. (supplemented.co.uk) All of our products are manufactured within the UK by a contract manufacturer. These products are legally classed as foods, both by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency here in the UK and also hold this legal status within the European Union.

 

Originally on the 27th August I received a notification that my account was suspended “for violating the Healthcare and pharmaceutical policies” I thought this would be easy to resolve as I could clearly point out that none of the products I sold are classed as medicines, sold as such, or required any kind of licence to sell or prescription to purchase.

 

I’ll detail the key points from the previous 14 weeks of the support chat to save you from having to run through everything.

 

Originally I was informed that some of my products contained ingredients that were banned,


Inline images 1

I replied clarifying that all of the ingredients used were/are legal in the UK, and the products were manufactured by a well-known contract manufacturer who complied with ISO/GMP standards.

 

I was then informed that the account was suspended for using medical terms such as Beta Alenine, Amino Acids etc.

Inline images 3

 

Firstly this is odd since the terms essentially refer to proteins, I’m not sure how they can be classed as ‘medical’ in any way.

 

Secondly as I pointed out, many other companies are using these terms and phrases in their own ads. Companies who I know also use the same contract manufacturer as ourselves, so there is literally no difference in the product or the formulation.

 

Inline images 4

I was then told that even use of the term ‘supplement’ was an issue. Again strange, again with no legal basis, and again not being enforced for any other companies.

 

Inline images 5

 

After pointing this out I was then sent some links to the standard Google Merchant Centre policies and T&Cs.

 

These clearly DID refer to medical and healthcare products and controlled medications, so I took the time to run through these and offer my clarifying response to each in turn.

 

Inline images 14

 

 

I was then given a further list of more words considered to be ‘medical’

 

Inline images 7

 

Again none are medical in nature, again there is no legal restriction on using these terms or selling these products, again they are in common use by other companies selling the same products as ourselves.

 

By this point the support thread had run to several weeks, so I just though “screw-it, I’ll just remove everything they have a problem with and hopefully we can get the ads up and running again”

It was around this time that the response times in the thread has gone from 24 hours to >3 days. This remains the case today.

 

Inline images 8

 

I was then told that they are unable to provide a list of words considered medical in nature.

 

Inline images 9

 

On the 13th of September due to slow responses (often > 3 days) I grew frustrated enough to ask for them to refer the case to a senior manager

 

Inline images 10

 

After another 3 days this request was ignored and I was told to report my competitors if I believed they were breaking any rules.

Again I was told that ‘disapproved’ ingredients in the products were the cause of the issue.

 

Inline images 11

 

Exasperated at this point I relented and just removed all of the previously mentioned words from my feed.

This was sent for review – which failed

 

Inline images 13

 

I then asked for more feedback on what is causing the account to continue to fail the review. Only to be told that they can’t provide this information on a granular level.

 

Inline images 12

 

I’m now in the seemingly impossible situation, 3 months on in being expected to guess which words within my product feed may be causing a problem.

Just to reiterate,

  • My products are legal and classed as foodstuffs
  • Our site is checked by the MRHA to ensure that we are selling our products in accordance with UK law
  • Many many of my competitors are selling the same products via Google Shopping
  • Using the same words and phrases I have been informed are a problem
  • I have taken action and removed all of the words and phrases that I have been informed are a problem, even though I know that there is no legal or logical basis for this.
  • I am now left to 'guess which words may be arbitrarily considered to be 'medical' in nature
  • The increasing response times and form email nature of the replies I am getting lead me to believe that this is just being batted back to me with no further insight or desire to resolve the issue.

As you can probably tell I am getting increasingly exasperated with the lack of transparency of the decision making process within the Google Merchant Centre team, or the willingness of their support to take ownership of the problem and to help me effectively work through this to a resolution.

Any ideas on how best to proceed on this?

3 Expert replyverified_user

Merchant Feed Suspension

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Before reading, please note this is a public forum, for member to members. All what I'm saying is linked with official documentation.

Also I can't see any of your images.

 

Health supplements are classified under the Healthcare and medicine. This is simply a policy Google enforces. https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/6150151?hl=en

 

Regardless of products being legal or not, Google is a marketplace with its own regulations, some dis associated from country laws.

 

In most cases of violations regarding this topic is due to making claims, statements etc... without any proof on the product landing page which is not aloud. It is therefor recommended to remove all claims from the landing page and data feed.

https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/6150127

 

Google has there own list of banned ingredients, regardless of local law.

https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/2430794

 

Pharmaceutical related keywords are indeed not aloud, unless you have a pharmaceutical license. There is currently no public list of these keywords. This to avoid merchants circumventing policies.

 

Not because a competitor is able to list a products means they are following the policies and most likely will also be suspended.

 

Also note repeated violations may result in a permanent ban

 

Certain answers you expect from Google will simply never be given to avoid merchants finding a way to circumvent policies by listing products that are not aloud using that said info.

 

The issue you have is very common with health related products, I have in the past helped allot of clients with this issue and have been successful in the majority of cases. But you need to do allot of work, follow all policies and be patient.

 

In the end, Google has the final say in what can and can not be listed, regardless of our own opinion.

 

Also note that the contact people at Google Adwords are not the review team, they can only help you point to the right direction. If the review team does not approve your products than there is nothing the Google Adwords rep can do about it.

 

Hope it helps.

Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Shopping Feed Tips From FeedArmy
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please click on ‘Accept As Solution’

Re: Merchant Feed Suspension

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi Emmanuel, thanks for taking the time to reply. I'll answer the points that you raise.

 

Health supplements are classified under the Healthcare and medicine. This is simply a policy Google enforces. https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/6150151?hl=en

 

Regardless of products being legal or not, Google is a marketplace with its own regulations, some dis associated from country laws.

 

Yes that is clear and understood, we expect to deal with this is all markets and marketplaces that we operate in.

 

In most cases of violations regarding this topic is due to making claims, statements etc... without any proof on the product landing page which is not aloud. It is therefor recommended to remove all claims from the landing page and data feed.

https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/6150127

 

Yes, again this is understood. Legally in the UK we cannot make any unverified medical claims about food supplements. This is enforced here in the UK by the MRHA.

 

Google has there own list of banned ingredients, regardless of local law.

https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/2430794

Thanks, I have already checked this list to see if any of the products that we sell may fall under this list, or if any of the ingredients that we use may fall under its scope, but none do.

 

The issue you have is very common with health related products, I have in the past helped allot of clients with this issue and have been successful in the majority of cases. But you need to do allot of work, follow all policies and be patient.

 

How do you recommend proceeding from this point. As I have explained we are certain that our products are both legal and comply with both MRHA and Google policies. 

Until we can understand specifically what the review team are querying then it is very difficult for us to fix this.

 

 

 

 

 

Merchant Feed Suspension

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

I don't think you have completely looked at your product data or have read the policies correctly.

For example : https://www.supplemented.co.uk/products/5-htp-100mg-capsules

You say it is commonly used to aid rest and relaxation. This is a statement.

Where do you backup your statement?

Than again you state effective way to increase serotonin levels in the brain

and further down again

Helps to increase or restore the serotonin levels in the brain
Serotonin helps to support healthy mood and sleep

 

I recommend you review your whole site and remove all claims and statements that are not proven.

 

As I'm a volunteer, this is as much help as I can provide.

 

Best of luck.

Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Shopping Feed Tips From FeedArmy
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please click on ‘Accept As Solution’

Merchant Feed Suspension

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

So you're saying these are being interpreted as 'medical' claims?

 

 

 

 

 

Merchant Feed Suspension

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

generally, any health-related claim or related outcome,
or any claim that is in any way exaggerated, or any claim
that is in any way misleading, or any claim of an improbable
result -- even if this result is possible, or any claim that
falls anywhere outside the bounds of current scientific
or medical consensus, etc., are grounds for a policy flag.

claims are not required to be strictly medical.

google's policies concern any content related to health or healthcare --
and are in no way restricted to medical content or prescription-drugs.

also, any ingredient or product, flagged by legitscript,

are generally not allowed  by google -- regardless of

any other external approval.

also, any content or references to prescription-drugs,
even if that drug is not being sold, are not allowed.

as was indicated, the policy-teams typically do not disclose a
definitive list of everything that may be violating the policies.

the examples given at a granular-level are typically
a very small subset and are mainly designed to be
used as samples to help extrapolate a wider set of

issues on the site, or within submitted data, or both.

also, google does not compare the issues against other merchants --
the flagged-issues are compared against current rules and policies.

 

Merchant Feed Suspension

Top Contributor
# 7
Top Contributor

Matt,

 

I have worked with sites similar to yours and your experience is typical. You are making unsubstantiated medical claims.

 

Also, although I haven't looked at all of your site, keep in mind that everything indexed by Google organically is considered, not just your landing pages. For example:
http://articles.supplemented.co.uk/6-crash-diets-that-prove-people-will-try-anything-to-lose-weight/

 

Your site has the word guaranteed on at least 5 pages. A human would understand that the context is fine, a bot does not.

 

I also found words like days, kilograms, pounds, "lose weight". Google's bots when they find all of these words on a site, expect that you are making unscientific claims.