Google's Policies for Paid Search
Google has laid out firm guidelines for advertising medicines that impact pharmaceutical manufacturers on aspects such as restricted drug terms and prescription drug sales. Pharmaceutical companies would need to be approved by Google to become certified healthcare-related advertisers before using Google Ads for personalized advertising. The advertising regulations for pharmaceutical products are strictly upheld by Google to ensure that marketers follow the required industry standards and laws.
Google Ad Policies for Pharmaceutical Companies
- According to Google’s policies, certain content that’s related to healthcare and medicine can be advertised only when the pharmaceutical company has been approved by Google as a “certified healthcare-related advertiser”. Certified companies can target ads in approved countries alone. Companies would also have to abide by country-specific regulations apart from Google’s general ad policies.
- Details on the country-specific restrictions for pharmaceutical companies can be accessed here.
- Google allows pharmaceutical companies to advertise prescription drugs only in the United States, New Zealand, and Canada while over-the-counter drugs can be promoted in over 24 countries, which are the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, South Korea, Slovakia, Russia, Poland, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, Italy, India, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Czech Republic, China, Canada, Brazil, Austria, and Australia. Medical professional suppliers and bulk drug manufacturers are allowed to advertise in Canada and the United States alone.
- Google Ads closely monitors any prescription drug that is being promoted by a certified healthcare-related advertiser. A list of the prescription drugs that Google Ads monitors can be accessed here.
- While advertising online pharmacies is restricted in general, Google allows their promotion only in specific countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Sweden, Slovakia, Portugal, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic, China, Canada, Brazil, Austria, and Australia.
- Google approves the promotion of an online pharmacy after reviewing the content of the ad/app/site along with the services and products it offers. Online pharmacies are also required to be certified by Google in order to promote their products through Google Ads. To qualify for Google’s certification, online pharmacies would have to be “registered with the relevant pharmaceutical authorities in the countries that their ad campaign targets”.
- Google has separate policies for specific products and services such as birth control and clinical trials. While the promotion of birth control products are allowed in many countries such as Canada and the United States, Google does not allow birth control ads in several countries including Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Tunisia, Thailand, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Palestinian Territory, Oman, Morocco, Libya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Hong Kong, Egypt, Djibouti, China, and Bahrain. Where addiction services are concerned, Google allows the promotion of such services in the United States alone.
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers and companies tend to face challenges mainly with personalized advertising content. Google’s personalized advertising policy states that marketers cannot serve advertisements that fall under the category of sensitive interest such as belief, identity, and personal hardship. Pharmaceutical advertisers who come under this category are restricted from using several features such as in-market audiences, remarketing, demographic targeting, and similar audiences.
Healthcare-Related Advertiser Certification
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers, online pharmacies, and other companies that are seeking to utilize prescription drug terms in their landing pages or ad text would have to first be certified by Google.
- Pharmaceutical companies can apply for the certification by filling out Google’s online form which can be accessed here. Pharmaceuticals would need to ensure they adhere to the country-specific regulations along with additional requirements for the countries where their ad campaigns will be targeted.
- For the certification process, pharmaceutical companies would need their Google Ads customer ID, a copy of their pharmaceutical license with a 'Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Authorization Letter' if applied by an agency, and a website URL.
- Google has developed a list of prohibited pharmaceutical drugs and supplements that are not allowed to be advertised regardless of any legal claim. Some unapproved substances include products that contain human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and ephedra, drugs that have received regulatory or government warning, and products with misleading claims.
- Pharmacies that advertise unauthorized products will be considered as egregious and may be suspended. Violation of this policy would include, but not limited to, targeting ads in unlicensed locations, promoting unauthorized content, or providing prescription medicine without a prescription. Apart from account suspension, violation of Google Ad policies can lead to ad disapproval, compliance review, and disabling the company’s remarketing list.