Google Introduces Tighter Rules for Certain Medical Product Ads

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Many people use the internet to search for information about health issues. These habits create opportunities for doctors, clinics, and health product manufacturers. However, there is a growing concern that people are more likely to find incorrect or dangerously inaccurate information. To combat the spread of sketchy medical information, Google Ads has introduced new rules for advertisers who wish to promote certain medical products. 

Healthcare issues are complicated, and some product manufacturers use buzzwords from the latest scientific discoveries to promote health products. For example, stem cell therapy and gene therapy are real treatments, but some health products use these terms to promote untested treatments. Under an updated policy from Google Ads, advertisements for these kinds of medical products will no longer be allowed. 

As Google explained in a blog post announcing the policy update, “Today, we’re announcing a new Healthcare and medicines policy to prohibit advertising for unproven or experimental medical techniques such as most stem cell therapy, cellular (non-stem) therapy, and gene therapy. This new policy will prohibit ads selling treatments that have no established biomedical or scientific basis. The new policy also includes treatments that are rooted in basic scientific findings and preliminary clinical experience, but currently have insufficient formal clinical testing to justify widespread clinical use.”

Traditionally, many health products are sold as nutritional supplements so the manufacturer can forgo all of the testing needed for something to become an FDA-approved treatment. By tightening the rule for advertising, Google has made it harder for unproven health products to reach new audiences online. In their announcement, Google acknowledges that the policy change could make things difficult for good actors in this space, but the more-stringent rules are necessary to protect consumers. 

The company added, “We know that important medical discoveries often start as unproven ideas — and we believe that monitored, regulated clinical trials are the most reliable way to test and prove important medical advances. At the same time, we have seen a rise in bad actors attempting to take advantage of individuals by offering untested, deceptive treatments. Often times, these treatments can lead to dangerous health outcomes and we feel they have no place on our platforms.”

To help responsible health product manufacturers who are working with experimental techniques, Google will “continue to allow advertising for research happening in this space for clinical trials and the ability for clinicians to promote their research findings to the public”.

These new rules could potentially affect many health product manufacturers on the market. Many health and nutrition products make claims that aren’t fully backed by scientific evidence or based on human trials. This action from Google Ads may require these product manufacturers to rethink how they market their products. 

For more information about recent changes to Google Ads, read this article on the new maximum conversion automated bidding strategy.  

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