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Manually reviewed ads keep getting disapproved

And for the past 3 months customer service reps can't do anything about it.

10:16 am on Jan 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I started a new project in the weight loss market. It's a sensitive category, so I was expecting extra scrutiny. And that's fine.

But I'm hitting a brick wall here.

My ads keep getting disapproved for "Misleading content".

Usually, when people complain about ad disapproval, it's about them not liking or not wanting to comply with the policy. But in my case, for almost three months now, I've been getting my ads manually reviewed and approved. And then, the system automatically disapproves them... after they had been approved by humans... repeatedly.

I can create and ad. Get it disapproved. Call it in. Get manual review. Get the ad approved. Then make a copy of the ad (identical ad and landing page), and then that ad would become disapproved.

Humans at Google review my ads/landing page/site, and approve the ads. Then the system disapproves them. Humans approve the ads again, and the system disapproves them. Humans approve.... well, imagine three months of this.

I have three distinct case numbers. All of them end the same way. "Congratulations, we've been able to review and approve your ads." Only for me to get the ads disapproved soon after. Either when I start running them or when I copy them or create identical ads just as a matter of test.

One rep said she would try to escalate it to the technicians to place some sort of "flag" or "marker" to prevent this from happening. But that didn't happen. And she closed the case and no longer responds.

So far, I'm in this weird patten: A new case is created. A new rep from the reactive team evaluates the situation. After giving me a few boilerplate suggestions and learning that's I've already implemented them they say they are going to escalate it to the technicians. Then, they come back with a few other boilerplate suggestions from the technicians. After seeing that I've already implemented those too (or they aren't applicable to my situation), they take another day and then message me "congrats, we've approved your ads". And they close the case. And ads are approved... until they turn back to disapproval status.

When I try explain that the issue isn't about getting my ads manually approved but about figuring out why my ads are getting disapproved by the system, they suggest I start a new ticket.

More than one rep already walked away from this issue. They spend two-three weeks trying to figure out why ads are automatically disapproved. And then, they get me manual approval and close the case, as if they've lost recollection about why I contacted them in the first place.

Currently, the person who've been working on this for the past two weeks, sent me the same e-mail "congrats, your ads have been manually reviewed and approved." Even though the problem is not in getting the ads manually reviewed. It's about the system then automatically disapproving them, even after a manual approval.

So I'm guessing this rep is also about to wash his hands of this case too, by claiming that "the case has been resolved" and ads are approved and be done with it.

I keep asking them to escalate it further. If the classifier is mistakenly flagging me for disapproval -- then it's a false positive, and it needs to be deal with internally by AdWords technicians.

And if the classifier is right and I'm really non-compliant, then I need to deal with this on my end. And I'm willing to make whatever changes necessary.

But as things are progressing now, we keep going in circles. And I'm worried that eventually they might get tired of me and declare that my "site/ad/business/whatever is not compatible with AdWords and I'm not eligible to use this services" just to get rid of me. This really worries me since on at least two occasions while dealing with this problem, reps when unable to fix the problem, were increasingly shifting towards attitude of "well, your site seems gimmicky and my personal trainer doesn't agree with what you are telling me now over the phone" (I'm not kidding you about the last part)... so that's why you keep getting disapproved, let me close the case now, and call us back with any other issues. (All while manual review keeps approving me, and I'm more than willing to comply with AdWords policies and make whatever changes are necessary.)

So, is it possible to somehow escalate this?

I've been using AdWords since around 2003-2004, and I've seen The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Google. But this is just unreal.

I understand when people don't agree with AdWords policies or when they try to cheat in some way and then get frustrated when they are caught.

But in my case, it looks like humans at Google who are in the first tier support have less power than the algo. (And that's fine.) But they seem to lack either willingness or authority to actually escalate it further. To actually diagnose the issue and find out why exactly the classifier marks me as disapproved. So that either the classifier can be adjusted or I can make changes.

When they escalate to a "technician", those technicians aren't actually doing anything technical. They just recite the policy. And when the rep sees that all the suggestions by the technicians have been met, they send the ads for manual review. And they get approved.

And as soon as those reps realize that they can't fix the issue, they pretend that the case is only about getting those particular ads manually reviewed. So they send them for review, get an approval, report back "congrats" and then close the case.

And as soon as I take that approved ad with that approved landing page and make a copy (everything identical), it gets disapproved. And the rep claims that it should be a new case, since the old one was about the ads that are currently approved and not about this systemic issue.

So, any ideas on what I can do?
10:23 am on Jan 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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And here are the final replies from the currently on-going ticket (which is about to turn the same way as all previous tickets):

=========Google rep:
Hello, no worries at all. Iīm still working diligently and trying a few
other things with my technician. I will call you within the next hour.

=========Google rep:
Hello! I believe I have much better news for you in regard to our recent
concerns. Please check your adwords account!

=========Google rep:
Please allow it a few hours before the information is updated.

Thanks! Could you please tell me what happened?
Did they give you any specifics for the disapprovals?
Is it something on my end?
Is it safe for me to add new ad groups and ads?

Thanks again for seeing this through!

=========Google rep:
Thank you for your reply. It appears that after you made the last
adjustments to the ad we were able to have them manually approved. Thank
you for your patience during this long process. Have a great weekend!

Sadly, the problem remains.

It's exactly as before. Ads are manually approved, but automatically

I just copied all test ad groups (identical ads, landing pages, everything),
and some of them got approved while others disapproved.
I can find no pattern to this happening.

Please check "display_new" campaign, ad groups starting with "2test_".
Those are exact copies of ad groups "test_".
I copied them with AdWords Editor. Didn't make any changes.

Yet, some ads in "2test_" ad groups are approved, while others
are disapproved. Same "Misleading content" notice.

And I don't even receive the usual disapproval e-mail notice
that usually accompanies disapprovals. (That's not important
in itself, but maybe provides a clue to which part of the system
disapproves my ads.)

=========Google rep:
At this time I havenīt received any updates. However that is perfectly
normal considering I submitted the information yesterday. Hopefully I do
receive something today, and when I do I will keep you updated. I
appreciate your patience during this long process.

I noticed that the ads that were disapproved yesterday
are approved now.
Did they manually approve them again?

Should I try creating more ads to give them something to examine?

Then the ads were again disapproved.

=========Google rep:

I submitted another request yesterday, I want to see if this final one
works, if not what i would recommend is starting new ads entirely and
following the policy and guidelines I initially sent you and making those
other minor adjustments that we requested these past few weeks.

And right now, I have some previously approved ads that are now disapproved. I don't even know what I should reply to this rep. As "starting new ads" makes no sense to me. We've tried creating new ads with new ad copy during this case with that same rep (and during previous cases too).

And the "minor adjustments" he mentions have all been either completed (with him with this same case) or not applicable. The same exact adjustments as proposed three times in a row now by different reps.

It's a crazy situation when AdWords reps can't say what's wrong, can't escalate to the people that could debug/diagnose the classifier, and we are all just sitting around guessing what could be wrong.

And once things aren't working out, I start getting replies that turn general and vague as if it's the first time I'm contacting them about this issue. Like "we need to review all suggestions" or "implement changes we requested".

We've already implemented all the changes. And the ads have been reviewed after those changes. And the ads were approved by humans... after we've implemented all the changes.

And when the previously human-approved ads get disapproved by the algo, then reps say "we need to implement the changes that were suggested." Seriously?
9:37 pm on Jan 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member bwnbwn is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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I have run into this with a gun product. It is the algo that rescans the document and disapproves it. I had to reword the ad many times to get an ad to comply with the algo.
9:58 pm on Jan 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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So humans at Google don't have the means of overriding the algo?

How do they deal with false positives then? Or is it assumed that there can be no false positive?

I understand that accelerated growth team probably can pull some strings. But people with smaller accounts are basically screwed.
7:01 am on Jan 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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as soon as I take that approved ad with that approved landing page and make a copy

What's your reason for making so many copies? Could you plan your ad groups differently to avoid or reduce that?

One problem here is that when one makes a new copy of an existing ad, the approval status doesn't get copied along with the rest of the ad content, it starts over from scratch. AdWords isn't set up to realize that since the previous ad was approved it would make sense to approve the identical new copy too.

I agree with you that that's a weakness in the system.

Alas, the system (as experienced by users) is sometimes short on common sense.

The behaviour you're describing is normal. Less than ideal, but normal. Each new ad has to start from scratch for its approval - even if it's an exact copy of a previously approved ad. Even if it's a pretty banner about kittens and bunnies, it will not get automatic approval.

My advice: don't let this stress you out. Remember the old saying to "Choose your battles carefully!" Accept the fact that requesting manual approval will need to be part of your process, and make the needed requests as efficiently and smoothly as you can.