Google has been progressively refining its policies and rolling out updates for as long as we can remember. It does this to ensure that it protects users searching for products and services, including online dating, whilst ensuring they have the best experience possible. The most recent of these upcoming changes will apply to Google’s Adult content policy.
It’s important that you stay on top of your ads, domains and landing page content if you are currently running ads through Google's advertising platforms, or plan to in the future, to ensure your campaigns are not impacted.
Google's Adult Content Policy
Who will be impacted?
This policy update could impact you if:
- You actively run Google campaigns for casual dating brands
- You run Google campaigns for mainstream brands in the same Google Ads account as your casual brands
- You run mainstream brands that demonstrate sexually suggestive content
We don’t anticipate that the upcoming policy changes will impact your campaigns IF you are already complying with Google’s Adult content policy.
However, we highly recommend that you audit your landing pages regularly to make sure no inappropriate imagery makes it onto your pages. We also recommend that you set up ads with caution to avoid the risk of having your account suspended.
When is the policy changing?
Google will begin enforcing the policy update on 29th March 2021 and ramp up enforcement over approximately 4 weeks.
What does the current policy say?
Google’s Adult content policy is in place to restrict certain kinds of adult content in ads and destinations if it feels the ads are inappropriate to the user’s search and don’t respect user preferences.
The policy itself breaks down all the content that is and isn’t allowed. The policy isn’t a simple ‘allowed’ and ‘disallowed’ process, however. Instead it is broken down into categories which all result in different family statuses (family safe, non-family safe and adult). The family status will then determine who sees your ads.
This structure is great, as it means you can still serve ads to your casual dating brands, as some kinds of adult-orientated content are allowed, but with ever changing policies, we highly recommend that our partners have a solid mainstream dating strategy, to mitigate the potential risks associated with casual advertising.
To see the current policy in full, click here.
Google's Sexual Content Policy
Note the new name!
What is changing?
Firstly, the policy name is changing. The ‘Adult content’ policy will now be referred to as the ‘Sexual content’ policy. This reference will also be changed throughout the policy itself.
The categories will be updated from ‘Adult’ and ‘Non-family safe’ to ‘Strongly restricted’ and ‘Moderately restricted’.
'Strongly Restricted' Categories
The Google Ads Adult content policy, as we know and ‘love’, currently classifies ‘hook-up’, ‘fling’ and ‘swinger’ dating sites as Adult, therefore these will remain restricted, unless a user’s personal preferences permit the search. These dating themes are termed ‘Sexual encounter dating’ by Google.
'Moderately Restricted' Categories
If you’re currently running ads that are classified as ‘Non-family safe’ you will notice that these will be marked as ‘Approved (Limited)' and will serve as ‘Moderately restricted’.
This category includes ‘Sexual theme dating’ which encompasses ‘affair’ and ‘sexual fetish’ dating sites.
Just like the ‘Non-family safe’ policy, this category will also still be restricting general dating with sexually suggestive elements and themes. This means that if your landing pages contain any sexually suggestive content, for example images featuring legs spread open, touching covered intimate body parts, mimicking sexual positions or movements, will be served as ‘Moderately restricted’.
To view more detail about the policy changes, click here.
What happens if the policy is violated?
Violations of this policy will not lead to immediate account suspension without prior warning. A warning will be issued, at least 7 days, prior to any suspension of your account. If your Google account is suspended, all ads in this account will stop running and Google will no longer accept advertising from the account.
1. Mitigate risk
Mitigate the risk of this and future policy changes through completely risk-free mainstream dating brands in a separate Google account. You will still be able to run a profitable casual portfolio, but we'll show you ways that are much less risky, and that can also be free!
Read more about this opportunity here.
2. Audit your content
Regularly audit your ads and landing pages that may be impacted by this policy
- Do you have any mainstream dating sites with explicit imagery?
- Do you have any ‘Non-family safe’ landing pages that have nudity on them?
It’s important that you regularly review and audit your ads and landing pages. If an ad is restricted it is often difficult to get this restriction removed later on. You should conduct regular audits to ensure that, more importantly, none of your ads violate the policy as this will result in suspension and will stop ALL of your ads in the suspended account.3. Explore ‘moderately restricted’ niches such as ‘BBW’ and ‘Kink’
‘Swinger’ and ‘hookup’ branded sites will be more strongly restricted than sexual fetish dating. If you haven’t already explored our ‘Kink’ and ‘BBW’ casual dating niches, there isn’t a better time as you will be able to create ads that will be served more frequently which will enable you to drive more traffic.
If you have any concerns about your current ads or landing pages, contact your Partner Manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org.