Google AdWords has caused the marketing world to change dramatically over the years, and small, medium, and large businesses continue to take advantage of this platform. AdWords is a very effective method of paid advertising, and properly utilizing it can provide great ROI for companies in any industry.
With Google being the search engine of choice for the majority of consumers, AdWords gives businesses the unique opportunity to target anyone looking for specific information, products, or services.
Businesses in any industry can find success with AdWords, but that doesn’t mean they all face the same advertising challenges. Over the years, Google has built and refined an extensive list of policies that determine what can be advertised, where these ads can be displayed, and who the messaging can be directed towards. This means that having a basic knowledge of AdWords isn’t always going to cut it.
For the healthcare industry in particular, Google has installed a number of policies that are designed to follow existing advertising regulations. Some healthcare-related products and terms cannot be advertised at all, and others must meet certain restrictions in order to be approved. Failure to adhere to the policies Google has in place can cost a business valuable time and money.
Important Google AdWords Policies

  1. No personalized advertising

Google has prohibited the use of personalized advertising for the healthcare industry because it implies knowledge of private consumer information. This means that ads targeting personal health conditions, treatments for said health conditions, and other intimate bodily health issues are not allowed at all.
However, marketing to medical professionals is allowed, so topics like medical devices fall into a grey area. In these cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have specific questions related to this policy, contacting AdWords support could be helpful.

  1. Location restrictions

When it comes to pharmaceutical manufacturers and prescription drug sale, Google prohibits advertising to certain countries or regions. For example, prescription drugs can only be promoted in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. Over-the-counter medicines and any other manufacturers or suppliers are also subject to these restrictions. To be safe, double check Google’s country-specific restrictions for any country you would like to advertise in.
Google further restricts online pharmacies and closely monitors the countries where they can be promoted, as well as the countries where they can bid on keywords. Taking it a step even further, any online pharmacy that wants to advertise through AdWords must be certified by Google. These online pharmacies must also be registered with the pharmaceutical authorities of all the countries that their ad campaigns target.

  1. Restricted terms

For the most part, Google does not allow advertisers to use prescription drug terms in the text, landing pages, or keywords of any ads in their campaigns. The few countries that do allow pharmaceutical manufacturers and online pharmacies to use prescription drug terms are Canada, the United States, and New Zealand. However, these advertisers must be certified by Google in order to use these terms.
The only other exceptions to this policy revolve around the use of prescription drug terms in public health and safety awareness campaigns. Google keeps a list of these prohibited prescription drug terms that they monitor.

  1. Prohibited substances

Although many of the restricted terms discussed above do have some exceptions where they are allowed for advertising, Google does keep a list of prohibited substances that are not allowed to be used at all. This extensive list is broken down into four categories: unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements, substances related to weight-loss, anything related to ephedra, and anabolic steroids. Google suggests for anyone looking for additional information regarding their prohibited substances.
What Happens If You Voilate These Policies?
For many businesses in the healthcare industry, the policies discussed above may be a pain to follow, but Google must protect their users and adhere to any laws and regulations. Any ads or other content that violates these policies is liable to be blocked on the AdWords platform. So, what actually happens if your ads violate these policies? Google says it depends on the severity of the violation. Here are four possible outcomes:

  • Ad disapproval: Any advertisements that don’t follow Google’s policies could be disapproved. The ad cannot run until the violations are fixed and the ad is approved.
  • Account suspension: In cases of several small violations or one or two serious violations, your account may be suspended. This means AdWords would no longer accept advertising from your account, and any connected accounts may also receive this punishment.
  • Remarketing list disabling: In cases where the personalized advertising policy is violated, remarketing lists can be disabled, and new users will not be added to the lists.
  • Compliance review: Google may review your account for compliance at any time. If Google requests compliance-related information from your business, you must respond quickly and correct any violations to ensure compliance.

Make sure to study all of Google’s relevant healthcare policies before launching and AdWords campaigns. Having an intimate knowledge of these regulations makes it much easier to stay on Google’s good side.