An email about Google’s new “Strikes” system for Google Ads showed up in all of our inboxes last month, and if you’re like us, your first reaction was probably to check your accounts to make sure it wasn’t impacting your campaigns. While this might have seemed like an unwelcome intrusion, the new Strikes system and Google’s communication around it should help advertisers navigate accidental policy violations in a streamlined way, while increasing accountability and transparency. Will there be downsides to the new system? It remains to be seen, but like any new punitive system, the implementation could be the deciding factor. 

We won’t try to spell out the details of the system more plainly than Google did in their support article from July 20th, because they laid out the policy in simple, easy to understand terms. Instead, we’ll look at the implications and potential pitfalls of the new system.

The first and most important note is that this system won’t apply to the most common types of policy violations that search marketers face when creating new ad copy – issues like trademarks in ad text, destination mismatches, and most other common violations that may cause ads to be disapproved. The Strikes system will only apply to violations of the Enabling Dishonest Behavior, Unapproved Substances and Dangerous Products or Services policies. 


The Good News About the New System

The good news is that this means most advertisers shouldn’t have to interact with this system. These are significant violations that most search marketers wouldn’t make accidentally. 


The Bad News About The System

The bad news is that Google’s automated systems sometimes mistakenly flag ads for policies they didn’t actually violate, or flag ads that have already been brought into compliance and successfully appealed. This could lead to situations where advertisers who are complying with the system as it was described end up with temporary holds on their account, or worse, account suspensions. Without even considering the loss in marketing opportunity during a hold or suspension, this could result in long hours spent working with Google Support to resolve a situation that the advertiser either never put themselves in or already worked to resolve. 

That being said, this will all come down to how Google implements the process. Since these violations are more serious than typical issues with ad copy disapproval, they may take a more deliberate approach to flagging accounts that are in violation. Additionally, if your account does get a warning or first strike, there are detailed and simple steps to take to get back in compliance and keep running ads. As long as the system works as intended it will help ensure that Google remains a safe, trustworthy platform for users to search for and find businesses – which in turn will make it an even better place to promote your brand. 

We’re hopeful that this will end up being a positive change, but in the meantime, we’ll stick to the mantra that the best way to get out of trouble is to not be there in the first place!