What Types of Businesses Are and Are Not Allowed to Digitally Advertise?

What Types of Businesses Are and Are Not Allowed to Digitally Advertise?

One of my favorite games to play when I was a kid was “Red Light, Green Light”. This is a game where one person is “it” and stands a good distance away from the other players with their back to rest of the group; this person is considered the traffic light. The other players stand in a line and listen for instructions. When “it” calls “Green Light,” the other players run towards them until they spin around, calling “Red Light”. The person that is closest to the traffic light is the winner.

I think it is safe to say that everyone would agree that traffic lights are a necessity when we are all out driving around, and we have become accustomed to what theses colors represent; red means stop, green means go, and yellow means caution. At the intersection of Digital Avenue and Marketing Street, those same rules apply when it comes to marketing and advertising for certain types of businesses.

With the different marketing strategies that we offer, there are some verticals that aren’t allowed on certain products, there are verticals that are allowed on all products, and there are verticals than can run on some products but with restrictions, so we are going to break down what products you can and cannot advertise on for certain verticals.

The first strategy we will look at is Facebook and Instagram. Facebook and Instagram is a great place to market and advertise for your business, but if you have a certain type of business, you are going to come up against a red light (can not advertise) or a yellow light (can advertise with restrictions).

Red light verticals that are not allowed on Facebook and Instagram would be:

  • Gentleman’s Clubs
  • CBD Oil
  • Tobacco
  • E-Cigs
  • Short Term Loans/Loans
  • Guns/Weapons/Fireworks

Some of the categories where you’ll have a yellow light would be:

  • Real Estate/Financial Ads
    • Housing or financial ads on Facebook & Instagram (loans, credit cards, homes for sale, etc.) You can not target users by age, household income, gender, or zip code. However, we can target by city, state, or radius (min. 15 miles)
    • You are no longer allowed to run Email Custom Audiences or Lookalike audiences
    • No “predatory loans” advertising; no payday loans, paycheck advances, bail bonds, or any short-term loans of 90 days or less
    • Ads promoting credit cards, or any financial services must “clearly provide sufficient disclosure regarding associated fees, including APR percentages, transaction fees, interest rates and the physical address of the entity offering the product, on the ad’s landing page”
    • Facebook has limited the targeting categories available for these types of campaigns as well
  • Recruitment
    • Recruitment ads on Facebook and Instagram can not target users by age, household income, gender, or zip code. However, we can target by city, state, or radius (min. 15 miles)
    • You are also no longer allowed to run Email Custom Audiences or Lookalike audiences
    • You can not target by job title or occupation, only “interest” categories which may include people not currently in that field. For example, you can’t target people who are “accountants”, only people who’ve shown an interest in the topic of “accounting”
  • Addiction Treatment/Rehab Canter
    • Facebook has partnered with LegitScript, which is a third-party medical certification service, and requires drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers seeking to advertise on Facebook (within the United States) to go through a two- step validation
    • Step 1: Submit an application for each facility through LegitScript’s online form
    • Step 2: Complete Facebook’s Addiction Treatment Centers online onboarding request form
  • Guns/Weapons
    • Safety courses for firearm training or licenses (allowed)
    • Books and videos about firearm safety (allowed)
    • Plastic guns, swords and toy weapons (allowed)
    • Mounted flashlights for firearms (allowed)
    • Scopes and sights for firearms (allowed)
    • Hunting, self-defense and military clothing and gear including shooting targets, holsters, and belts (allowed)
    • Gun safes, mounts, gun cases and slings (allowed)
    • Protective clothing including vests, paint, coatings or wraps for weapons (allowed)
    • Guns, firearms or weapon of any kind (not allowed)
    • Fireworks (not allowed)
    • Ammunition (not allowed)
    • Paintball or BB guns (not allowed)
    • Pepper spray (not allowed)
    • Non-culinary knives (not allowed)
    • Blades or spears (not allowed)
    • Tasers (not allowed)
    • Batons, nun chucks (not allowed)
    • Weapons intended for self-defense (not allowed)
  • Political Campaigns
    • Ads are allowed on Facebook, Instagram and Instagram Stories if the person doing the buying is a Facebook approved ad buyer
    • Political ads are not allowed in Instant Articles, Marketplace, Facebook Stories, Facebook Audience Network, Facebook Messenger (so no “Facebook Premium”)
    • Political ads can not run in or be targeted at the state of Washington when the ads relate to Washington’s state or local elected officials, candidates, elections, or ballot initiatives
  • Medical/Weight Loss
    • Ads can not contain content or images that reference personal attributes such as a disability, specific medical condition, mental health, weight loss claims or medical guarantees (guaranteed to lose 5 pounds in 5 days), no before and after photos, ads must be targeted to 18+
    • Facebook also looks at the client’s website, so the website also has to adhere to the above regulations
    • Here is an example of what Facebook will and will not allow:

 

  • Gambling/Casinos
    • Ads that promote ONLINE real money gambling, (including online casino, sports books, bingo, or poker), have to be pre-approved in advance by Facebook
    • Authorized gambling, games of skill or lottery ads must target people 21+ who are in jurisdictions for which permission has been granted
    • Ads for casinos must be targeted to 21+, and cannot feature an ad for a specific casino game
    • Focus on the shows, entertainment, restaurants, and resort amenities rather than the gambling
    • Ad approval typically takes longer
  • Dating Websites/Apps
    • Must be submitted to Facebook to receive pre-approval before the campaign can be set up

Another product that is a great avenue for marketing your business is using Amazon Targeting. (Remember, this is for businesses that DON’T sell on Amazon.)  Just like Facebook and Instagram, Amazon also has restrictions when it comes to certain types of businesses.

Verticals that can not run on Amazon are:

  • Wineries/Breweries
  • Tobacco
  • E-Cigs
  • CBD Oil
  • Cannabis
  • Gentleman’s Clubs
  • Guns/Weapons/Fireworks
  • Short Term/Payday Loans
  • Political Campaigns
  • Weight Loss/Supplements
  • Casinos/Gambling

Verticals that can run on Amazon, or can maybe run on Amazon are:

  • Medical
    • Fat burners and fat blockers (not allowed)
    • Online pharmacies (not allowed)
    • Healthcare practitioners where the ad features an individual doctor or practitioner (not allowed)
    • Specific medical procedures (not allowed)
    • Doctors’ offices – but can’t highlight an individual Dr. (allowed)
    • Hospitals (allowed)
    • Health insurance (allowed)
    • Health education (allowed)
  • Recruitment
    • Ads can not contain text that implies that person needs a better career
    • Ads can not contain text that implies the person should quit their job
    • Can not ask if the person is unemployed or laid off
    • Ads can not imply that the person is over/under qualified for their job

There are a couple of other restrictions to be aware of when it comes to advertising on Amazon. Amazon looks at websites that do have e-commerce as their competitor, so if a business sells on their own website, ads would not appear on Amazon.com, but they would appear on other Amazon owned properties and the Amazon Publishers Network. If a website sells 3rd party products on their website, their ads would not run at all, even across the Amazon owned properties and the Amazon Publishers Network.

The other restriction is that when using Product Targeting on Amazon as a targeting strategy, Amazon will not allow you to target every available product that Amazon sells. For example, you can’t target people who have viewed, searched, or purchased:

  • Specific medications (vitamins and supplements are ok)
  • Diet pills
  • Alcohol
  • Bullets or weapons
  • Pregnancy Tests
  • Adult sexual items

If you are a business that wants to reach consumers on their mobile device, Mobile Conquesting is the product for that. Mobile Conquesting is going to have a similar list to Facebook and Amazon when it comes to products that are not accepted:

  • Tobacco
  • E-Cig
  • Cannabis
  • Gentleman’s Clubs
  • Guns/Weapons/Fireworks

When it comes to medical ads on Mobile Conquesting, you are going to get a caution light because you can advertise medical ads, but there are going to be some restrictions. Mobile Conquesting will not accept ads that mention specific:

  • Mental health conditions
  • Diseases or chronic conditions
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Products for treating or managing health conditions, including over-the-counter medications
  • Issues related to intimate body parts or functions
  • Invasive medical procedures, including cosmetic surgery
  • Disabilities (even if focused on caretaker)
  • The website of the advertiser will also be evaluated by the exchange

Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads is another product that comes with restrictions for advertisers. Verticals that are not accepted for PPC are:

  • Political (however, candidates can place their own PPC ads; they just can’t use a 3rd party)
  • E-Cig
  • Cannabis
  • CBD Oil
  • Guns/Weapons/Fireworks
  • Gentleman’s Clubs
  • Short Term/Payday Loans

Some verticals that are allowed to run PPC ads with restrictions are:

  • Addiction Treatment/Rehab Centers
    • Google has partnered with LegitScript, a third-party medical certification service, and requires drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers seeking to advertise on Google (within the United States) to go through a two- step validation
    • Step 1: Submit an Application for each facility through LegitScript’s online form
    • Step 2: Complete Google’s Addiction Treatment Centers online onboarding request form
    • Lead Form Extensions may not be available for medical PPC
  • Live Event Ticket Sellers
    • Client must be certified in advance by Google and meet certain requirements
  • Supplements (depends on the ad)
  • Weight Loss (depends on the ad)
  • Medical Procedures (depends on the ad)

Google also made a recent announcement that in October they are going to implementing new policies for housing, employment, and credit and loan ads. These types of advertisers will no longer be able to target audiences based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code (only city, state or nationwide for geo).

  • Housing: Housing listing sites, individual houses for sale or rental, real estate services
  • Employment: Ads for jobs, job recruitment sites, job listing sites
  • Credit: Credit cards, loans including home loans, car loans, appliance loans, short-term loans

With the rise of podcasting and smart speakers, Online Audio is another way that advertisers can get their message across to targeted users. Online Audio is going to be another exchange that does not allow:

  • Tobacco
  • E-Cig
  • CBD Oil
  • Cannabis
  • Guns/Weapons/Fireworks
  • Political

Did you notice anything missing from the red light category for Online Audio? Believe it or not, Gentleman’s Clubs and Casinos fall in the caution light restrictions:

  • Gentleman’s Clubs
    • Can run on Online Audio, but depending on the ad creative and the website, it might get denied
  • Casinos/Gambling
    • Focus on the shows, entertainment, restaurants, and resort amenities rather than the gambling
  • Weight Loss/Supplements
    • No before or after photos
    • No photos of scales
    • Ads geared more towards health and fitness will be your best bet

Now let’s shift gears and talk about some products where you are allowed to advertise for those more controversial verticals. With Display, Native, Pre-Roll and OTT ads, the gates are going to open a little bit and you have the green light to advertise for:

  • Tobacco
  • E-Cigs
  • Cannabis
  • CBD Oil
  • Gentleman’s Clubs (ad can not contain nudity or lead to a landing page that contains nudity, and it is not available on Native Video, Native E-Mail Matching, or YouTube)
  • Guns/Weapons/Fireworks (not available on Native Video, Native E-Mail Matching, or YouTube. If running on OTT, must be combined with Pre-Roll)
  • Medical (ad cannot contain content that would imply knowledge of personal health information, but can be about the health facility or practice and has to have a privacy policy on advertiser’s website. Not available on YouTube)
  • Short Term/Payday Loans (not available for Native E-Mail Matching and YouTube)

Because nothing is ever black and white, or red and green in this case, here is a chart summarizes what products are and are not accepted on certain exchanges:

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