Google announced in October they would shut down all stem cell and PRP advertising through AdWords. The search engine took immediate action on violating adverts. The consequences ranged from removing or disapproving the ads. In some cases, accounts suspended altogether. It has taken until December to see the impact of the full strategy in the UK market.
Why did Google change its policies on PRP?
It wasn’t aimed directly at PRP. The aim was to cut down on the number of stem cell biotech treatments promoted to patients. These were being pushed treat many different types of conditions. Often lacking medical or any scientific evidence. PRP, platelet-rich plasma, and stem cell therapies are still considered ‘alternative’ and ‘untested’.
Googles approach to pooling all cellular therapies into one area has resulted in confusion. Treatments caught up in the crossfire have resulted in poor performance.
Read Google’s official statement on the policy here.
There is less clarification or guidance of use PRP and cellular therapies in general by the ASA
Existing Policies in Google Ads
The policy preventing the fraudulent advertising of medicines has existed in the Google Policy for a long time. This is the policy that prevents businesses from talking about prescription medications (POM’s). If using AdWords it restricts landing page copy to websites. It means there’s a need to carefully craft words in ad copy and image labels, if they are using Google AdWords.
The UK Advertising Standards Agency
The policies created globally for Google are completely aside from the very clear regulations given by the UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). Here the rules for POM’s give clear guidance about advertising and promoting products. Recently updated to deal with the masses of material on social media. Download the Latest Guidance
Google Ads and Botox /POM’s
Google Ads will not run for POM’s and that includes Botox. Example: If you used the word “Botox” on a home page or landing page that you wanted to send your advert to, the advert would not work. Google restricts the use of prescription drug terms in landing pages, ad copy and AdWords. With this level of control on prescription drugs, you can imagine that anything unregulated will only have tighter rules. For example, Google doesn’t allow adverts for dietary supplements, CBD, Herbal medicines and some forms of Homeopathy. It also picks up products with similar sounding names easily confused with an unapproved substance. Eg Botox
How will this affect my business?
The issue with any blanket ban is that it effects businesses with ethical and well proven treatments and well documented. It makes no judgement on the skill or the intentions of a medical practice, it just bans the words through an algorithm. Questions like is Google really the regulator we trust for medical devices and treatments come up. But, at the end of the day it’s another hoop to jump through to get to market for ethical suppliers.
How does it affect consumers?
By restricting information about products and services it actually means that consumers are less likely to find a reputable and companies with good intentions. The companies pioneering new and innovative therapies will find this harder. The bad and fake companies will more likely use different techniques to sell dreams to the unsuspecting public with the creation of clever level landing pages and tricks.
Could this change?
For the time being, unlikely. Although Google continues dialogue with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure medication adverts are compliant with rules. The blanket policy hasn’t gone without disagreement. Inevitably, as clinical evidence builds over time, we should see a shift in policy.
So, what’s the workaround solution?
If you have seen a change in your AdWords performance, it may be down to something as simple as you have PRP listed on your website so get it checked out. Edit your web content and familiarise yourself with the latest policies.
Google isn’t yet penalising PRP in organic search engines
Facebook and Instagram don’t yet prohibit this type of advertising. If you would like any assistance on how to advertise effectively, please get in touch