Editorial Guidelines for Pay per Click Advertising

By John Arnold, Michael Becker, Marty Dickinson, Ian Lurie, Elizabeth Marsten

Editorial guidelines are always set forth by the search engine or the distributor of pay per click (PPC) ads, so many variations exist for online marketing. The major search engines have similar rules and regulations that are fairly easy to follow, but if you run into issues or have questions, consult the help center for that particular engine.

Most search engines are similar in their requirements for the format, language, and grammar of an ad. If you’re using PPC honestly and writing ads that advertise what you’re selling, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Here are the most common rules to follow:

  • Watch your language. Don’t use sexually explicit or offensive language, such as swearing.

  • Don’t make false claims. One example of a false claim is offering a price or promotion in the ad but not making that same offer on the landing page. Another example is saying that you’re “No. 1” or “the cheapest” without being able to prove your claim.

    Proving your claim requires verification by a third party. See your search engine’s help center for its specific policy. Google AdWords, for example, allows you to make such a statement as long as you can show — through a link to or a direct quote from an independent third party — that your claim is true. This information must be available within one or two clicks of the destination URL.

  • Keep the ad copy clean. Avoid using all capital letters for anything but acronyms (FREE, BUY NOW), excessive punctuation (Save Now!!!!), or repetition beyond two words (Buy, Buy, Buy!).

  • Mind your grammar. Use proper grammar. Sentences and phrases must be logical and must make sense.

  • Use standard typography. Things not to do include using inappropriate spacing (Buy S h o e s!) and using numbers or symbols as words (Deals 4 U here, Not 2 be 4gotten!).

  • Don’t use generic click calls to action. Examples include text such as Click here and Click this ad.

If you simply craft your ad to sell what you’re selling without trying to be gimmicky or spammy, you’ll be just fine.

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Most search engines will catch a big editorial issue; they display an error message telling you what the issue is and preventing you from saving the ad. If the ad contains multiple or more subtle errors, the search engine allows you to save the ad but rejects it on further review. The engine stops running the ad and sends a notification e-mail to the address associated with the account.

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If you receive an error message and feel that the ad doesn’t contain an error or that the search engine is mistaken, you can request an exception, which allows you to enter a short explanation and run your ad for the time being. Even though the search engine will review the ad again, it may still reject it if it doesn’t accept the reason you’re requesting the exception.

If the Request an Exception dialog box does not appear, you may not request an exception online. You will need the assistance of a search engine representative to get your ad copy through.