You can sell almost anything with Adwords, almost. So what exactly can’t you sell on Adwords? Turns out it’s a lot of stuff. Some prohibited items aren’t surprising and others are shrouded in plenty of grey area. Basically if it’s illegal, unethical, too much fun or any combination of the above you might just be out of luck.
You Can’t Sell Blatantly Illegal Items with Adwords
Shocking I know. Also if I may point out, if you’re selling this stuff online at all you don’t deserve internet access. “They’ll never catch me now that I’ve posted my address and phone number online along with the fact I like to break the law for profit… oh wait…” The following items are not only totally illegal but also prohibited from being sold via Adwords:
Drugs & Drug Paraphernalia
No selling weed, crack, meth, magic mushrooms, LSD, or any other mind-bending substances via PPC. You also can’t sell bongs, glass pipes, and other getting high accessories… except for black lights, those are still ok.
No fake driver’s licenses, social security cards, diplomas, immigration papers, etc.
It’s probably best that you can’t easily get your hands on Austrian horse steroids online.
No hate groups, anti certain ethnic or religious groups, or groups that encourage violence against certain peoples.
Counterfeit Designer Goods
No fake purses, jeans, leather goods, shirts, shoes, etc.
You really shouldn’t bother trying with this one, that’s what Craigslist is for… and it’s free!
If it’s Illegal in Most States or You Have to be Over 18 Just to See it, Chances are You Can’t Sell it with Adwords
Things that are age restricted, have a tendency to cause moral outrage, or have the possibility of poking an eye out are generally prohibited from Adwords. Be advised this one has some grey areas to it.
No promotion of casinos or online gambling is permitted. You also can’t promote sports books, lotteries, bingo, poker, gambling software, gambling tutorials, gambling eBooks, gambling affiliate sites, and even play for fun gambling sites.
This one is tricky; you can promote porn with Adwords. However there are a lot of off limits areas and you have to be very careful with your keyword strategy. You must stick with very specific queries that would only bring up adult results, and I would recommend phrase and exact matches here.So what porn topics are banned? Anything having to do with kids, teen pornography (even if the models are 18+ and the site is legal), anything denoting youth (school girl, etc), and non-consensual material or implied non-consensual material. I’m going to guess there’s more that’s banned that Google would prefer to not spell out. (Note: even though you can promote porn we don’t. We don’t have that kind of time and you probably don’t have that kind of money)
Guns, bullets, parts of guns, switchblades, butterfly knives, brass knuckles, and other weapons with malicious intent are a no-go. You can however promote more utilitarian things like hunting knives, pocket knives, kitchen knives, and archery gear.
Cigarettes, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snus, cigars, and anything else full of nicotine that will make you smell bad and slowly kill you is prohibited.
Alcohol (except wine and champagne)
No beer, no hard alcohol, but wine and champagne are cool. Weird, I know.
If it is supposed to explode on purpose you can’t promote it. In all fairness you shouldn’t really ship fireworks anyways; the post office gets a little skittish about explosive packages.
Academic Cheating Services
This includes test taking services, paper writing services, and anything else that is academically dishonest.
Drug Test Cheating Services
You can’t sell “cleansing” teas or your little brother’s clean urine with Adwords, sorry.
Illegal Traffic Devices
Radar jammers, plate blockers and traffic signal changers are all prohibited. Radar detectors seem to be ok however.
This doesn’t cover miracle weight loss pills so much as a magic pill with a suspicious resemblance to a tic-tac that may virtually cure AIDS and Cancer.While we’re talking drugs and pills, prescription drugs are allowed -if- you are an Adwords approved pharmacy. You can also sell over the counter drugs but this isn’t a good place for Adwords beginners. There is an extra layer of scrutiny when you’re trying to promote OTC products so you have to factor in extra work and administration time.
Prohibited Scams, Tech, and Marketing Items
There are a lot of scams out there that Google has isolated to be dropped from the Adwords programs. Also any software of services that have an adverse effect on Google or its search results are not allowed either.
Scams, Phishing, Data entry affiliate sites, e-Gold, Dialers
If it’s a known scam do yourself a favor and don’t waste your time. If you’re bent on promoting a scam you’re going to have to come up with a new one, so you might as well put that energy towards a legit business idea.
Bulk Marketing (E-mail Spam) Products
If you have a great e-mail list of thousands of e-mails you scraped from sites around the web you can’t promote with Adwords.
Hacking & Cracking
You can’t promote sites that teach you to illegally access software, servers, websites, cell phones, unlock copyright protection, descramble cable, and anything else illegal and hacker-y. You can promote hacker skills if they are for white hat defense purposes.
Automated Ad Clicking
Adwords rule number 1, don’t mess with Google’s wallet! Automated ad clicking is a good way to get your Adwords and Adsense accounts shut down in a hurry… oh and they have a word for this -click fraud.
Made For Adsense (MFA) Sites
Honestly I’m not sure how enforceable this one is, but it’s on the books for good measure.
Copyrighted Material You Don’t Own
Adwords is not the place to try and sell your pirated DVD collections. Stick to hastily set up card tables on street corners and at flea markets.
Webmaster Guidelines Violations
Don’t openly promote with a Google service services to screw with Google, not smart my friend.Phew, that’s a lot of prohibited stuff… I hope this was educational for you all. Remember if you can’t bring it on an airplane, do it in front of a police officer, or tell your mom about it you probably can’t use Adwords to promote it. And now that I think about it I’m probably on some kind of government list after all the drug, weapon, and explosive related searches I just did to make sure my list was correct… the things I do in the name of science.
One last thing I’d like to point out is that you may be able to get away with promoting some of these items for a very, very short period of time. However your account will in time be somewhere between banned, blocked, or canceled.