Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Merchant Center policy updates

Current as of September 22, 2021

The impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is evolving every day and we are working hard to maintain a safe advertising ecosystem for users,  advertisers, and publishers. This page provides important information and updates on measures we are taking to prevent abuse related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Advertisers must follow Google Ads policies when serving  coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related content, in particular our Sensitive events policy, which prohibits any content that seeks to capitalize on the pandemic, or lacks reasonable sensitivity towards this global health crisis.

We will continue to evaluate the situation to both address new products/services that are being used to exploit users, as well as re-enable certain products/services when the situation stabilizes.

We will update this page as the situation evolves. Please check this page for updates on how Google Ads is addressing the situation to ensure a safe and positive experience for users.

Latest Updates

[22 September 2021] More COVID-related products allowed on Shopping:

Beginning in September, we are relaxing the restriction of certain coronavirus (COVID-19) related products on Shopping ads and free listings. Products like clothing, test kits, home goods, etc. that were previously disapproved due to the COVID-19 sensitive event are now eligible to serve on Shopping ads and free listings. 

Due to this change, at-home COVID-19 test kits are now permitted on Shopping ads and free listings. Only test kits that are authorized by the FDA or your local governing body will be allowed. We will accept test kits where the sample is collected and analyzed at home and also test kits where the sample is collected at home and then sent to a lab for analysis. In alignment with our medical devices policy, all products must adhere to the specific legal requirements of the countries where they are offered.

[31 August 2021] Update on which types of masks can be listed in Shopping ads and free listings:

Google will allow the listing of certain respirator face masks by approved merchants and suppliers on our Shopping ads and free listings. Project N95 will approve N95 mask offers for listing in the U.S. only. Approved N95 mask offers will be listed directly by Project N95 on behalf of N95 merchants. LegitScript will approve N95-adjacent mask (KN95, FFP2, and KF94) offers for listing globally. Approved merchants can list KN95, FFP2, and KF94 mask offers in Merchant Center directly.

Merchants and suppliers will need to apply for approval before they can list their offers in order to mitigate the risk of counterfeit masks being sold. The application process for both paths will require merchants and suppliers to provide business and product information for review. Apply here for N95 listing approval via Project N95 and apply here for N95-adjacent listing approval via LegitScript.

[1 December 2020] Updating our policy on which types of masks can be listed in Shopping ads and free product listings:

Google will allow the sale of personal protective equipment (PPE). Retailers can now promote surgical masks, and other non-N95 masks on Shopping ads and free listings. 

Note: We still cannot facilitate the sale of N95, KN95, FFP2, FFP3, PFF2, PFF3, and KF94 masks as there is still a global shortage and these should be reserved for medical professionals at this time.

[15 June 2020] Restricting the sale of masks that may be vital for healthcare workers during the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak:

We are enforcing a temporary restriction on masks that may be vital for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 response to prevent advertising that may capitalize on coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This decision is to prevent global supply shortages on products which are essential to navigate COVID-19, based on our “Sensitive Events policy” under Inappropriate Content policy.

We will allow advertisements for the sale of masks which are made solely of cloth. Masks that contain additional features or devices may not be allowed.

We are also taking additional steps to prevent artificially inflated prices that limit or prohibit access to other essential items on Google’s network.

[30 March 2020] Updating our sensitive events policy

In March 2020, we clarified that any “public health emergency” will be treated as a sensitive event. For more information, please see the “Sensitive Events Policy” under Inappropriate Content policy.

Advertiser eligibility to serve Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related ads

In order to ensure our users have access to essential information while navigating coronavirus disease (COVID-19), some entities are now eligible to run coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related ads. 

We are currently allowing ads from government organizations, healthcare providers, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, verified election ads advertisers and managed private sector accounts with a history of policy compliance who want to get relevant information out to the public. We are continuing  to evaluate our policy and enforcement processes as the situation evolves to phase in more advertisers in the coming weeks. 

Ensuring the privacy of our users:

We will ensure the privacy and safety of our users by continuing to prohibit audience targeting on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related content based on Personalized Ads policy. 

Protecting our extended workforce and community:

We are taking steps to prioritize the well-being of our employees, extended workforce, and the communities where they live, including reducing in-office staffing in certain sites. This may result in some delays while we provide support to our users, advertisers and publishers. 

FAQs

Where should I go if I want more information about coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The World Health Organization website has up to date information and guidance regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

How will Google Ads continue to keep me informed about additional changes that are made regarding coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation is evolving every day, and we're committed to providing you updates, including any changes that may impact our processes and support systems. 

To stay informed on how you may be impacted by these changes, continue to check this article. We’ll update it on a regular basis.

How is Google Ads fighting misinformation around coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We are working hard to quickly remove ads that violate our policies, including those that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or claim harmful substances have health benefits.

If you find ad content that violates this policy, please report it. Instructions for reporting violations of our policies are available here.

How can advertisers ensure their ads are policy compliant?
Please ensure that you are complying with our policies, including Google Ads policies. If your ad content violates these policies, it will be removed. For example, content that claims harmful substances or treatments can have health benefits or content that violates our inappropriate content policies will be removed.
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