This week, Google rolled out some policy changes to their AdWords platform regarding who can advertising pharmaceutical products through PPC ads. Previously, all advertisers dealing with medicinal products had to go through PharmacyChecker identification so that Google could verify that the products were legit. This week’s rollout has tightened restrictions on pharmaceutical advertising. Now, only VIPPS and CIPA certified pharmacies will be allowed to advertise their products through AdWords, and pharmaceutical advertisers will only be allowed to target their own country.
This change is sure to aggravate lots of vendors of diet pills, holistic cure-alls, and nutritional supplements, but I think it’s going to offer a better user experience in the long run. We’ve all seen the scam AdSense ads for acai miracle juice and received way too many emails promoting “ChEaP Vi@gra.” Pharmaceutical products are consistently one of the most profitable affiliate marketing niches, so I’m not too surprised that Google is cracking down on this vertical to clean up their PPC results. I suppose this is an extension of their recent ban on teeth whitening AdSense ads and their ilk. So, I guess it’s a bad time to be a pharmaceutical affiliate, but a good time to be a person searching for legitimate cures. By restricting pharmaceutical ads to only folks who can obtain a legitimate, well-regarded certification, Google is really trying to make sure that the only people who can advertise pharmaceuticals are actual pharmacies.
However, people who are on the fringe of the pharmaceutical industry might get dinged for this, too. In my experience, I’ve seen that Google’s automated editorial process is extremely liberal in what it considers to be a pharmaceutical advertisement. Because of these new rules, you might see your ads get disapproved if you offer pharmacy technician certification classes, medical assistance devices like walkers or orthopedic devices, or even counseling sessions on drug addiction. I’m pretty sure that Google just flags any ad that is even remotely related to pharmacies or medicine.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to clear up the confusion. If your ad gets flagged (and you know you’re not breaking the rules), all you really need to do is to submit an exception request with a simple line like “not a pharmaceutical product.” You can do this right in AdWords Editor in the ad editing section. Usually, Google is pretty good about promptly reinstating the ad if it’s clearly not bound by the pharmacy policy rules.
Because of this new policy, it’s a good idea to double-check any ads that might seem related to pharmaceutical products. If you’re not paying attention, Google might flag your ad and keep it from running. By being vigilant about the approval process and understanding the rules, you can prevent yourself from missing valuable ad impressions and clicks.