Coronavirus Ad Policies on Google and Facebook

In this video, our co-founder, Andrew Miller, discusses a few questions we’ve heard from our clients about marketing during these uncertain times. He claims that as marketers, it’s our responsibility to ensure we're providing messaging that’s helpful. We want to provide our clients with great resources and timely, fast, and flexible customer service.

Watch the video—or read the transcript below—to learn more about Google and Facebook ad policies during coronavirus.

Some of the questions we've been getting over the last couple of weeks from our clients are around, “Can or should we adjust our messaging and our digital marketing strategies to account for the changes in the marketplace as people are adjusting to life under strict quarantine rules or stay at home orders.” Or, [they’re] even just trying to find information and resources to protect themselves and their families as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic.

And the short answer is, “Not always. It depends.”

In a lot of cases, we can't adjust our messaging and strategies to speak directly to the impact of a global pandemic—simply because the search engines and social networks won't allow us to. So, I want to show a couple of examples how these fast-changing policies are taking shape.

If you look at a Google search results page for Coronavirus masks, normally you'd expect to see ads or product listings for companies that are trying to sell personal protective equipment or any sort of related apparel. But you'll notice on this search results page, there's not a single ad in sight—which is rare for a Google search result. Normally, they're well populated with ads.

But right now, as you'll notice, Google has a policy in place that's been around for a long time that they're taking full advantage of that limits or prohibits advertising around sensitive events—which they classify as content that potentially capitalizes on a public health emergency. And certainly we're living through one of those times now.

As Google is rolling out and evolving how they're helping and how they're responding to the pandemic, you'll notice that they are adjusting their messaging—and what they're allowing and disallowing advertisers from doing. Google ads are blocking all ads capitalizing on the coronavirus. And so far, they've had tens of thousands of advertisers that have attempted to run ads, whether they're legitimate businesses, or they're spammers and scammers trying to take advantage of people in a time of need—which unfortunately does happen.

Right now, there's a blanket policy—although that may be relaxed soon for the CDC and other government entities and NGOs that may be publishing authoritative and helpful information. Google's going to help them publicize that information and spread that [information].

As marketers, we have to put our marketing hats aside and focus on what's best for the community and not try to capitalize on a changing situation.

The Facebook ad policies are very similar. They do have a ban on misleading ads related to the pandemic. However, you can still run a wide variety of ads and [Facebook’s] ability to police or enforce those policies is somewhat limited, as we've seen from Facebook in the past. Again, as marketers, we're not advising taking advantage of a short-term situation for your own benefit. We're trying to acknowledge that there's a need out there for information, for accuracy, and for authority.

As marketers, we're trying to make sure that we're appropriately messaging that we're helpful—that we're providing great resources and we’re providing timely, and fast, and flexible customer service when needed. So, if we can follow [these ad policies], we're going to come out ahead in the long run.

Hopefully, you can stay safe, stay healthy, [and] stay inside. We're looking out for our marketing friends and our colleagues, and our clients—and we're going to continue to share this information as it becomes available. Thank you, and stay well.