Other restricted businesses: Free desktop software

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We restrict certain kinds of businesses from advertising with us to prevent users from being exploited, even if individual businesses appear to comply with our other policies. Based on our own continuous reviews, and feedback from users, regulators, and consumer protection authorities, we occasionally identify products or services that are prone to abuse. If we feel that certain kinds of businesses pose an unreasonable risk to user safety or user experience, then we may limit or stop related ads from running.

Learn more about the Other restricted businesses policy.


We restrict the promotion of free desktop software. Only authoritative distribution sites can advertise free desktop software. If you are an authoritative distribution site, please apply here. Additionally, all of your ads must contain the name of the software.

  • Examples (non-exhaustive): Executable files (such as .exe, .dmg, zipped files, extensions, plug-ins, add-ons, desktop applications) that can run on desktop computers, laptops, or notebooks and do not require payment information to download; free trials; freeware; shareware; freemium software; demos that offer downloadable content.
Note: Cloud service is not in scope of this policy. If an ad promoting cloud service has been incorrectly disapproved for the policy, please appeal the policy decision. Registration is not required and will not be provided for cloud service ads.

Options to fix ad violations

Apply to advertise free desktop software as an authoritative distribution site

If you are the publisher of the specific software that you want to advertise, apply to advertise free desktop software as an authoritative distribution site. If we determine that your site is the authoritative online distribution source, we can approve your disapproved ads.

Note: The authoritative online distribution site must not have a history or reputation of policy violations.

Change the ad’s destination

If a different site is already registered as the authoritative online distribution source for your software, edit your ad so that the final URL points to the approved destination, then save your ad so we can review it again.

Appeal policy decision

If you've fixed your destination or believe that we've made an error, appeal the policy decision directly from your Google Ads account to request a review. After we confirm that the destination is compliant, we can approve your ads.

If you aren't able to fix these violations or choose not to, remove your ad to help prevent your account from becoming suspended in the future for repeated policy violations. Learn more about suspended accounts.

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