Thursday, January 14, 2016

AdWords Ad Disapproved for ‘Body Type Targeting’?!

Here’s something we’ve never seen before – one of our client’s accounts had an ad disapproved for “body type and personality targeting”:

body type ad disapproval

Jaclyn Jordan, who manages the account, alerted me to the new policy. We were both pretty surprised by it.

Here’s the full explanation from Google:


Disapproval Reason


Gmail Ads- Body type and personality targeting: Given the unique nature of Gmail ads and how users interact with these ads, we've developed an additional layer of policy requirements specific to Gmail ads. At this time, Gmail Advertising policy does not permit promotion of products and services that targets individuals with negative physical attributes such plus size, curvy. To run your ads, please remove any content related to body type and personality targeting from your ad or site.

This is the ad that was disapproved:

adwords ad disapproval

As you can see, it doesn’t explicitly mention anything about body type or size (such as “plus size” or “curvy”), though the client is a plus-size retailer and the model in the ad is plus-size. Note that this display ad was created specifically for a Gmail campaign. When Google says, "Given the unique nature of Gmail ads and how users interact with these ads, we've developed an additional layer of policy requirements specific to Gmail ads" – they are probably responding to a heightened level of privacy concern among Gmail users.

When we showed it to Larry, he said, “It’s kind of crazy. Plus-size people exist and are a legitimate demographic.” It’s true! In fact, plus-size is the norm rather than the exception. One would assume that a display ad featuring conventionally skinny models (people whose bodies look nothing like the average consumer) wouldn’t raise any red flags. But if you sell clothing, you have to target some kind of “body type” – all humans have bodies. Why are plus-size ads being singled out for “body type targeting”?

This policy seems like it could be really hobbling for plus-size retailers, especially if it got extended to other types of AdWords ads. After all buyers of plus-size clothing don't necessarily view curviness as a "negative physical attribute," and there's reason to believe this demographic would like to see MORE of their body type represented in ads and media.

Common Reasons for Ad Disapproval

Some of the typical reasons an AdWords ad might be disapproved include:

  • Trying to advertise adult content, gambling, counterfeit products, drugs, something dangerous like fireworks, etc.
  • Violating copyright or trademarks
  • Using a phone number in the ad text
  • All caps, too many characters, too many explanation points
  • Mismatch between root domain in the display and destination URL

These are pretty much old hat and most advertisers are familiar with the policies. “Body type and personality targeting” seems more complicated and less black & white than the above list of violations.

What Counts as ‘Personality Targeting’?

I’d be really curious to see an example of an ad that was disapproved for “personality targeting.” If you’ve seen one of these disapprovals, let us know!

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