I work for an online college that has been trying to create a display ad using the term “addiction counseling degree”.

This ad got automatically disapproved because it was claimed that they violated the “Addiction services” policy.

However, this policy only applies to organizations that provide addiction services like, “Clinical addiction treatment providers, recovery support services like sober living environments and mutual help organizations, lead generators or referral agencies for addiction services, crisis hotlines for drug and alcohol addiction” (see https://support.google.com/adspolicy/answer/176031?hl=en#421)

We are not in that category; we are an accredited online university offering degrees in Addiction Counseling. Other colleges like Liberty University are running ads for Addiction Counseling degrees without having the LegitScripts certification that the healthcare form asks for.

I’ve tried to explain this to the Support team several times, but have had no success so far, by chat, email, or even when I talked to an agent by phone. They said that they approved it, but what I see is “eligible (limited)” and that a certificate is still needed in the US.

Since the main place we want to advertise is in the US, having the ad be “eligible (limited)” doesn’t fix the issue.

Does anyone have advice on how we could escalate this issue further, so that someone at Google would see that we are not prohibited by the Addiction services policy?

  • Google is known for having poor customer support for issues like this. It may not be possible to get their attention without generating bad publicity for them about the issue. Jun 23 at 11:23
  • @StephenOstermiller Sadly, I think we are probably way too small a school for them to care about bad publicity on this. Other schools seem to be getting similar ads approved though. Maybe I can find a contact in marketing who knows how they are doing it. Jun 24 at 14:08

An agent from Google called me today. They apologize for having put our ads under the Addiction Services Policy.

They acknowledged on the call that policy doesn't apply to our ads since we do not provide addiction treatment services, but rather offer Addiction Counseling degrees. Now the ads are running, and getting clicks.

I learned from this process that what we need to do was to fill out Google's form applying for Addiction Services certification, but explain why that certification was inapplicable to us, since LegitScripts doesn't certify colleges.

It seems like that was what escalated it to a manual review team that understood our issue, whereas the other policy reviews we had requested through Policy Manager may have been automated. There was at least one manual review, I think, based on what they had said to me on chat, but it had not allowed the ad to be served in the US, since it was saying the certification was needed.

Now they are saying that this issue should not recur, because they have made a note of it on the account.

So it is possible to advertise Addiction Counseling degrees on Google without violating current policies. You just need to fill out the certification form and explain why it is inapplicable to you.

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