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Policies and Other Key Requirements to Run The Shopping Ads Successfully

Google has developed policies to make sure people have a consistent and positive experience when using Google platforms and partner sites. If you don’t follow these policies, Google might disapprove items in the Merchant Center account until you correct the item violations.

If an issue persists, Google may suspend your account until the issue is resolved. Users who’ve opted in to mandatory service announcement email notifications will receive an email with details about the violation, including examples.

Google Ads policy

The majority of the policies that apply to Search, Display, Video, and Mobile ads also apply to Shopping ads. Google Ads aims to promote a positive experience for users, advertisers, partners, and Googlers by developing and implementing fair and consistent policies and by working to protect users’ online safety. These policies are administered in your Merchant Center account, and they’re organized around four categories

Editorial standards and technical requirements

These are quality standards for ads, websites, and apps. 

Examples include but are not limited to editorial and professional standards and technical requirements.

Prohibited content

This is content advertisers can’t advertise with Google.

Examples include but are not limited to counterfeit products, products or services that enable dishonest behavior, dangerous products or services, offensive or inappropriate content, and sexually explicit content.

Prohibited practices

These are actions advertisers can’t take if they want to advertise with Google.

Examples include but are not limited to abuse of the ad network, irresponsible data collection and use, and misrepresentation of self, product, or service.

Restricted content

This includes content that can sometimes be advertised on the Google Ads network, with limitations.

Examples include but are not limited to alcoholic beverages, copyrighted content, healthcare and medicines, and gambling-related content.

Shopping ads policy

Shopping Ads also adhere to policies in three other areas: unsupported shopping content, misrepresentation of self or product, and usefulness.

Unsupported Shopping content

This policy refers to certain types of products that are simply not allowed to be advertised via Shopping ads.

Example: Dangerous products, such as weapons, are not allowed on Shopping.

Misrepresentation of self or product

The misrepresentation policy for Shopping ads is about transparency and reliability; when users see a Shopping ad, the item advertised should match the item on the website.

Example: A merchant is advertising the price for one dining chair, but the image on the ad is a dining table with six chairs. When users click on the ad, they land on the product page with one chair.

Usefulness

This element of the editorial and technical requirements is meant to ensure that the landing page a user is led to offers a positive, clear, and easy-to-navigate experience.

Example: Potential shoppers are unable to access the landing page or proceed to checkout due to a website error. 

Landing page quality requirements

Google’s policy requirements for your landing page are designed to create a positive experience for shoppers.

It’s critical that advertisers lead users to a credible, reliable, and transparent landing page when an ad is clicked. When a landing page doesn’t match what the ad promises, users are more likely to leave the advertiser’s website without buying anything. This is a poor experience for users and for the advertiser. 

Based on the Merchant Center programs that you participate in, Google may check your site for some basic requirements.

Contact information, and Terms and Conditions

Your website must display at least one contact method, such as an email address, phone number, contact us form, or social media link.

How to resolve: Confirm that you can easily find the Terms and Conditions and contact method on your website (before checkout).

Secure checkout process

Payment and transaction processing, as well as a collection of any sensitive and financial personal information from the user, must be conducted over a secure processing server (SSL-protected, with a valid SSL certificate — HTTPS://).

How to resolve: Ask your webmaster to secure all your web pages to avoid policy suspension.

Return policy

Your site must provide a clear and conspicuous return policy to users.

How to resolve: Confirm that you can easily find the return and refund policy on your website before checkout.

Note: It’s acceptable that you don’t allow returns or refunds, but this must be clearly stated. Consider adding the return and refund policy to the footer so it’s readily available.

Destination URL

All landing pages corresponding to products submitted to Shopping ads must be accessible to anyone shopping in any location.

How to resolve: Use Geopeeker to check that a random sample of product landing pages can be seen everywhere. If not, investigate and resolve the issue. 

Common issues: 404 error for a website, IP blocked for certain regions (e.g., spam)

Complete checkout process

Ensure users are able to successfully add items to the cart and fully complete the checkout process.

How to resolve: Check that shoppers are able to complete a purchase of a physical product and get the product shipped to a physical address by testing the checkout process (until payment).

Before creating a Merchant Center account and setting up your product data, you’ll need to make sure that your business complies with the Merchant Center guidelines described here:

Promote only products available for direct purchase: The products that you promote in Shopping ads and free product listings need to be available for purchase through your store. You’re not allowed to use Shopping ads and free listings to promote affiliate or pay-per-click links to products — except when participating as a Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) in a CSS program country.

Use an official language: When listing your products, use a language that is supported in Merchant Center. You can also list your products in more than one official language. Just make sure that you submit different product data for each language and that the product data links to landing pages in the same language.

Specifically, use the same language for:

  • Your website
  • The product data that you submit
  • The language you select when registering your product data

Tell customers about your return and refund policy: Add your return policy information to your Shopping ads and free listings to improve the customer experience. Google may add special features and experiences based on your return policy, especially when a return policy or experience is compelling and competitive.

Collect user information responsibly and securely: Be careful with the information that you collect from users. Specifically, follow these guidelines:

Collect personal information, such as credit card numbers, securely on an SSL-protected page

Don’t sell your users’ contact info

Don’t use users’ personal information or images in ads without their consent

Your site’s primary purpose shouldn’t be to collect users’ personal information

Don’t offer free items or incentives except in certain circumstances:

With purchase of a product

As part of a marketing campaign

When the primary purpose is not to collect personal information from users

Follow the relevant policies: Google has other policies that aren’t specifically called out in this article about exactly what kind of content you can and cannot include in your Shopping ads and free listings. So before you sign up for a Merchant Center account, make sure that the products you plan on listing comply with the relevant Shopping policies.

Verify and claim your website URL: To ensure that you’re the owner of your site and to prevent others from claiming your site, you’ll need to claim and verify your domain in Search Console. To verify your URL (also known as your website address), you’ll need to be able to edit the HTML of your website or be able to upload files to your server.

Website requirements: Google has a set of policies that outline site-level requirements for your website. Based on the Merchant Center features that you use, we may check your website for some basic requirements which include the following:

Accurate contact information. Customers need to be able to find out how to contact you on your website in at least one way.

Secure checkout process. Payment and transaction processing, as well as collection of any sensitive and financial personal information from the user, must be conducted over a secure processing server (SSL-protected, with a valid SSL certificate – https://).

Payment methods.

Refund policy. Make sure to include a return and refund policy which clearly states how you handle these actions, including all requirements and any timelines.

Billing terms and conditions. Your site must clearly and conspicuously disclose all related conditions before and after purchase as well as disclose the payment model and full expense that a user will bear before and after purchase.

Complete checkout process. Ensure users can successfully add products to the cart and fully complete the checkout process.

Make sure your data meets the product data specification: When you’re ready to submit your products through the Merchant Center, you’ll need to format your product data to meet the product data specification. These are formatting guidelines that explain how to submit your data so that we can understand it.

Sign in to your Merchant Center account regularly: Sign in to your Merchant Center account at least once every 14 months so that your account stays active. Signing in every once in a while lets us know that your product data is fresh and not out of date.

Promote only products available for direct purchase

The products that you promote in Shopping ads and free product listings need to be available for purchase through your store. You’re not allowed to use Shopping ads and free listings to promote affiliate or pay-per-click links to products — except when participating as a Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) in a CSS program country.

Links promoted in Shopping ads and free listings need to lead users directly to a page that allows them to buy the advertised product.

This doesn’t apply to vehicle ads, an ad format which allows vehicle advertisers to promote their entire inventory of new and used vehicles (light passenger cars and trucks) to interested customers shopping for vehicles. Vehicle ads are a performance-focused, lower funnel ad format which allows auto advertisers to promote their entire inventory of vehicles to interested customers shopping for vehicles on Google.

This format shows customers an image of the vehicle with important information such as make, model, price, mileage, and advertiser name. Showing inventory of available vehicles both enriches the customer’s purchase experience and provides more qualified leads for auto advertisers.

Vehicle ads help advertisers drive sales by optimizing for both online conversions (leads) and offline conversions (store visits).

Enforcing Shopping ads policy

Now that we have covered the basic requirements of the Shopping ads policy, let’s look at how these policies are enforced. There are two types of enforcement for Shopping ads policies: account suspension and item disapprovals.


Item disapproval

Item disapprovals occur when the system determines the item doesn’t meet data quality requirements. For Shopping ads, the offending items are disapproved within Merchant Center. When an item gets disapproved, the rest of the data feed will continue to run and show ads.

Account suspension

Repeated policy violations can lead to account suspension. In addition, some items are simply not allowed to be advertised via Shopping ads. If you try to advertise products that aren’t allowed, your entire Merchant Center account will get suspended.

From item disapproval to account suspension

When items are disapproved, you have a certain number of days to fix the issue. If you don’t, your entire Merchant Center account could get suspended. It’s critical to resolve item disapprovals as soon as possible, to avoid your entire data feed not serving ads.

It’s critical that advertisers pay attention to their email notifications and address item disapprovals swiftly.

Key takeaways

  • Google Ads Shopping policy exists to protect users, advertisers, and Google.
  • There are basic website requirements that all advertisers must follow to advertise on Shopping. 
  • Google enforces shopping policies through item-level disapprovals and account suspensions.
  • It’s important to pay attention to email notifications about account violations and resolve any issues by the associated deadlines.

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