As a publisher, it can be difficult to understand and navigate Google’s often-confusing rules for publishers. One common area of confusion we see is the difference between Publisher Policies and Publisher Restrictions. Publishers need to be aware of both, and just as importantly, the difference between the two.
What are Google Publisher Policies?
Google Publisher Policies describe the principles, rules and guidelines surrounding the following aspects of ad serving:
- The types of content that can be placed on the website of a publisher in partnership with Google
- The quality of traffic required
- The quality of the content on-site
- The placement of ads
Publishers are required to follow these policies in order to work with Google and support the overall goal of ensuring a healthy ad ecosystem. The purpose of publisher policies is to ensure that inventory is sold to advertisers on the basis of being a safe place to advertise – which then encourages stronger bids.
Publishers that fail to adhere to Google policies risk disabled as serving or having their AdSense or Ad Manager account disabled. If your account becomes disabled due to policy violations, you are no longer eligible to serve ads with Google.
Google reported that in 2018, they removed ads from nearly 28 million policy-violating web pages and 734,000 publishers were removed from their ad network.
What are Google Publisher Restrictions?
Google Publisher Restrictions outline the type of content that is restricted from receiving certain sources of advertising. Fewer advertisers means less competitive auctions and can result in lower CPMs and revenue. In some cases, your content may not be eligible for any advertisement whatsoever. In which case, you’d earn no revenue.
|Type of content||Google Publisher Policies||Google Publisher Restrictions|
|Consequence||Can result in disabled ad serving or account termination/suspension||Ads will continue to serve but may receive restricted ad serving|
|Child Sexual Abuse Material & Pedophilia||X|
|Sexually Explicit Content||X|
|Adult Themes in Family Content||X|
|Intellectual Property Abuse||X|
|Endangered or Threatened Species||X|
|Dangerous or Derogatory Content||X|
|Enabling Dishonest Behavior||X|
|Malicious or Unwanted Software||X|
|Mail Order Brides||X|
|Guns, gun parts and related products||X|
|Alcohol sale or misuse||X|
|Unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements||X|
|App removed from Google Play Store||X|
For a more specific breakdown of what content falls within the categories outlines above for Google’s Publisher Policies, please click here.
For a more specific breakdown of what content falls within the categories outlined above for Google’s Publisher Restrictions, please click here.
What are the main differences between the two?
The main difference between Google’s publisher policies and restrictions is the consequence of producing content that goes against policy or that is restricted. Content refers to anything present on a web page, including advertisements and links to other sites or apps. Violating publisher policies can result in disabled ad serving, account suspension or even account termination.
On the other hand, the consequence of violating publisher restrictions is not quite so severe. Restricted ad serving can result in fewer or no ads showing around your content, which means less revenue. Publishers are free to publish whatever content they please, however, it is important not to monetize web pages that violate policy.
Ultimately, Google publisher policies are a single, common bar for all publisher products that outline what content Google will not allow to be monetized. Publisher restrictions on the other hand outline the types of content that, whilst not a violation of product policy, will cause restricted demand from buy-side sources.
When policies are created, Google tries to maintain a healthy balance between helping publishers earn money to fund their content creation and helping advertisers distribute their message. The purpose of policies and restrictions is to ensure that the content surrounding inventory is brand-safe and attractive to advertisers.
When buyers are satisfied with their advertising experience, publishers can continue to grow their revenue and in turn, this also creates a positive user experience. Policies help to ensure that trust amongst advertisers, publishers and users is maintained which is essential for the sustainability of the business. The enforcement of policies also ensures that advertisers can maximize their returns and publishers can maximize their revenue.
What to do if you have content that violates policy?
Publisher websites are constantly reviewed by Google to ensure that they are complying with policies. If your site is found to have any policy violations, you will receive a notification from Google that explains what the issue is and what action you need to take. Action either means bringing the content within policy, removing Google ads from that content or removing the content entirely.
Once the policy violations are addressed and corrected, you can request that Google reviews your changes. In the meantime, policy violations are enforced by restricting or disabling ad serving. Google will lift any restrictions or suspensions when they are happy that publishers are complying with policies.
It is vital to address any policy breaches to keep your account in good standing.
What to do if you have content that receives restricted ad serving?
Google will notify you if any of your content is receiving restricted ad serving. Though you do not have to take any action, not all ad sources will be able to bid on your inventory which often means less revenue. If you do wish to take action and amend or delete the content, you can request that Google reviews your changes.
Publishers do not have to act if they are notified of restricted ad serving, but will likely have revenue performance reduced until they do.