Why Are Google Ads So Slow?

If you’re looking to place some digital advertisements, there are a few go-to spots that you’re likely already familiar with, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google. But before you place those ads, you may want to consider the approvals process for each of the different platforms, and what that means for your advertising campaign.

While much of the mainstream attention these days goes towards the vetting of content to make sure that it is advertiser friendly, there are also regulations in place to ensure that ads meet a certain level of scrutiny before they are placed on a platform. These rules vary, as do the time-frames allotted for each company to approve your ad.

Google Ads are, notoriously, the slowest to process among the three larger platforms. They promise review of your ads within “one business day”, but often times, that approval process can stretch out for days.

The approval process is, for the most part, in line with common sense. The four main areas that they access a potential ad for are prohibited content, prohibited practices, restricted content, and editorial and technical issues.

Prohibited content is pretty easy to understand. They don’t want you to advertise the sales of counterfeit items (no knock-off shoes), dangerous goods (no drugs or weapons), dishonest behaviour (think hacking or essay-writing services), or inappropriate content. This last one is a bit harder to define, and is up to Google to assert their own moral code into the process. But it’s safe to say, if you’re trying to advertise something that’s racist, homophobic, graphic, cruel, or otherwise likely to offend general sensibilities, your ad will likely be denied here.

Prohibited practices include things like abusing the ad network (don’t try to game the system or mask the true identity of the intended product or site), irresponsible data collection (taking credit card information without the proper data protections in place), and misrepresentations (giving incorrect or misleading info about billing, for instance).

If your potential ad is found to be in violation of any point of these two assessment areas, it won’t be approved, and you’ll have to either edit your ad to fit the criteria, or accept that maybe Google Ads aren’t right for your business.

Next are the areas that won’t keep you from running an ad, but may limit where and how often it shows up.

Restricted content ads are ones that Google considers “legally or culturally sensitive.” That can include adult content, alcohol, gambling, medicine, political ads, financial services, and more. So, these ads might be fine to run, but not in every situation. Google will only run them in certain situations. This means you won’t get the full scope and reach of a non-restricted ad. In some cases, additional information can be provided that can de-restrict an ad in this area, but that’s on a case-by-case basis, and can further delay your ad from running.

The last area of consideration are Google’s editorial and technical requirements. This means they only want ads that are “clear, professional in appearance, and that lead users to content that is relevant, useful, and easy to interact with.” What does that mean? It means that ads that are too vague, attempt to confuse viewers, or misrepresent the actual final destination domain may be declined. So, don’t post an ad for “F₹€€ M0N3Y!” that purports to go to BankofAmerica.com.

Okay, so there’s a lot to consider for Google when they’re reviewing your ad. But Facebook and Twitter have similar review standards, and tend to process these ads much faster. So, what’s the delay?

Officially, Google says that due to the popularity of their platform and the high demand from advertisers, they have a constant backlog of advertisements to review. But if you ask people who use the system, they’ll tell you that it’s hit or miss, and sometimes ads can be approved within hours. Currently, Google will not allow advertisers to initiate a review of the process until the ad has been waiting for one full business day. And let’s be clear, one business day is 24 hours between Monday AM and Friday PM. An ad submitted on Saturday morning isn’t overdue for approval until Tuesday morning. And even after that period has been eclipsed, Google support is usually unable to do a spot-review. You can contact support, and they will pass your case along to another department to review - and that can take an additional business day.

So, what’s the answer? Unfortunately, it’s all up to you.

First and foremost, you need to give yourself time for the review process. Often, deadlines mean that ads are only ready to submit when the campaign is ready to launch, and that’s a recipe for frustration. If at all possible, try to give your campaign at least two days to be approved before you want to run it.

Secondly, spend the time to review your own ad before you submit it. If you fail to meet one of the more nit picky criteria, your ad will be declined, and after you fix the issue, you’ll be back to the back of the queue. Take five minutes before you submit the ad to ensure you are meeting all of the necessary criteria. Also, don’t edit your ad while you wait for approval. It might be tempting to tinker with your copy, but doing so will take you out of line, and you’ll reset the counter back to another full business day of waiting.

Third, you’ll need to have patience. In this digital age, we’re used to things that work quickly - and especially considering the time difference in approvals among the larger platforms, it can be easy to get frustrated. Take a deep breath, and realize that unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait, and take comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one.

Fourth and finally, keep your manners about you. If your ad isn’t approved in a timely fashion, don’t take it out on the first support rep you talk to. They aren’t the gatekeepers of your campaign, but a rude attitude doesn’t help to move things along - and being abusive to the support staff can result in your account being suspended. Be polite but firm, and thank the reps for their help if they’re able to assist you.

Yes, it can be frustrating to wait for Google to approve your ads - and trust me, they know it. They hear from advertisers and business owners every day who want a faster, more streamlined approval process. The world moves quickly, and when an administrative checkbox keeps you from keeping pace, it can cost you time and money. But until Google decides it’s enough of a pain point to make changes, all we can do is wait it out.

Trevor Prosser