If you’re running Google Ads, you may have recently received an email from Google about a new Destination requirements policy. An email with scary words like “enforcing,” “disallowed ad experiences,” and “this policy change may affect your account.”
What does it all mean? What is a disallowed ad experience and how can you know if you have any? I dove into the deets on this to supply you with everything you need to know. (Don’t worry—it’s not as scary as it sounds.)
Basically, starting in October of 2022, any of your ads that lead to landing pages with additional ads—in particular, annoying, disruptive, or insecure ads—will be disapproved. Google has always had policies in place for this, but what constitutes one of these experiences will now be defined according to the Better Ads Standards (more on this in a bit). There’s also a tool available to you to help you identify and replace experiences on your site that violate this policy (more on this also in a bit).
Well the most obvious reason is to keep those frustrating ad experiences off the web (like flashing, animated pop-ups 😑 or video ads that auto-play with sound on 😠).
But also, because annoying ad experiences lead people to install ad blockers. When ad blockers are installed, publishers can’t make money. When publishers can’t make money, the whole online advertising ecosystem gets disrupted.
🤔 How are your Google Ads really performing? Find out with the Free Google Ads Performance Grader.
There was no formal announcement on Google’s blog for this, but rather an email to Google Ads users. Here’s what it said:
In October 2022, the Destination requirements policy will be updated to include a new policy requiring ad experiences on destinations to conform to the Coalition for Better Ads’ Better Ads Standards. Destinations containing ad experiences that do not conform to the Better Ads Standards will be informed via the Ad Experience Report, and any ads that lead to such destinations will be disapproved.
For more information about the types of disallowed ad experiences, please visit the Coalition for Better Ads website. For more information on the Ad Experience Report, please visit the Web Tools Help Center or Ad Experience Report Forum.
We will begin enforcing the policy update in October 2022.
Our records show that this policy change may affect your account. Please remove any disallowed ad experiences before October 2022. Thank you for your cooperation.
The Google Ads Team
To help you understand it all and gain peace of mind, let’s look at each of the terms in that email and what they mean.
Your ad will be disapproved if its destination (again, the landing page, video on the landing page, app, or app store page) violates Google Ads’ destination requirements policy, which will now also incorporate the CBA’s Better Ad Standards.
We’ll recap those at the end of this post, but there isn’t really anything too surprising or beyond common sense in there. Basically: keep disruptive, unskippable, unexpected, or obstructive ads out of your ad destinations. And if you have any currently running, you’ll want to remove those before October.
Just like with any policy violation, your ad will be disapproved—meaning, it will be paused (or not allowed to go live in the first place), you’ll be notified, and you won’t be able to run the ad until you fix the disapproval. We cover Google Ads disapprovals here.
You can, however, appeal disapprovals. Because ads go through an algorithmic approval process, ads are more often than not disapproved when they haven’t violated a policy. So if your ad is disapproved, you’ll see the option to submit the changed ad or dispute the decision, like with the example below:
This shouldn’t impact you if your ads go to high-quality, trustworthy landing pages on your site and if your site is free of ads. But it’s better to be safe than sorry. Here are the two things you should do to ensure your ads don’t incur any disapprovals.
As mentioned above, the Better Ads Standards is a set of standards created by the Coalition for Better Ads, from surveying users on hundreds of ad experiences, to make sure your ads’ destination landing page, apps, mobile sites, and videos are free of disruptive, unexpected, obnoxious or frustrating ads.
The page itself defines 18 specific experiences that fall below the Better Ads Standards, with an easy definition and GIF to help you understand each one. For example, video ads that auto-play with the sound on. Or large, sticky banner ads that take up more than 30% of the screen. My recap below will help you understand it all, but the page itself is, of course, the best resource with all of the details.
It’s important to note that these are for secondary ads within a primary ad’s destination. So a nonskippable video ad on YouTube is not a disallowed experience. But if you have an ad that goes to a landing page that a user can’t view until they’ve watched 6 seconds of a video, then that is a disallowed experience.
Also as mentioned above, the Ad Experience Report is a tool that will find poor ad destination experiences on your site and recommend user-friendly alternatives. There are four review statuses defined by Google:
Note that this report is part of Google Search Console, so you’ll need to verify ownership of your site in order to access the report. Here are Google’s instructions to verify site ownership.
As promised, here is an overview on the types of ad destination experiences you’ll want to remove from current ads and keep out of future campaigns.
First up, we have Google’s official Destination requirements. The page lists several, with helpful examples, but here is a recap of reasons your ad destination could result in a disapproval:
The Better Ads Standards page (BAS) does a great job of illustrating and defining these ad experiences, but we’ve broken them down here as well:
This is for if your ad destination is a video.
In other words, if your ad sends users to a mobile app or app store.
This is not one of those privacy-first or automation-is-taking-over updates—just a reinforcement of good old quality content. If your Google Ads are pointing to landing pages on a website that is free of ads, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. If there are ads in your ad destinations, go through them to make sure they don’t match any of the definitions of annoying above. All in all, it’s going to make the web a better place and preserve your brand’s reputation.
Kristen is the Senior Managing Editor at WordStream, where she helps businesses to make sense of their online marketing and advertising. She specializes in SEO and copywriting and finds life to be exponentially more delightful on a bicycle.
See other posts by Kristen McCormick
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