Banned: Products You Can't Advertise Online

There are many products and services most of us would deem too dangerous to sell or advertise. Nuclear warheads, biological weapons, viruses...yea, don't sell those to anyone. Some products are a little more accepted and even beneficial, but are still not allowed to be advertised on AdWords, Twitter and other internet ad services. Let's take a look at some of the categories these products fit into.

Marijuana and Tobacco Products

Despite the growing number of states allowing medical marijuana products, the most popular ad services won't let you advertise them in any state at all. This applies to all marijuana products, even the oils that dont produce a high and are used to relieve illnesses like epilepsy. The same goes for tobacco products. Paraphernalia associated with both tobacco and marijuana is also not allowed.

According to Advertisemint, ads promoting groups concerned with tobacco are allowed on Facebook as long as there is no sale of the prohibited products from the group pages or pages linked to from group pages.

Certain Types of Dating Services

We'll include this category just to clarify what's allowed, because the information is not easy to locate. Most Google help pages simply state that "dating services" ads are prohibited. It's more complicated than that but, to be honest, you probably know if you're engaging in the shady stuff.

You cannot advertise anything promoting infidelity, affairs, or "hooking up" on Google, Twitter or Facebook. There's also a ban on any website that promotes unsafe marriages or relationships, such as international marriages.

General dating websites that do not market themselves using such keywords are allowed. Examples of allowed sites are Match.com and E-harmony. These are OK!

Bing isn't clear on what they allow. We assume they're just like Google.

Linkedin doesn't allow any dating if a party is compensated for the meetup.  They also say they "reserve discretion to determine the appropriateness of the service."

Alcohol (with Exceptions)

This one is complicated and policies vary by country, website, etc.

On Facebook, ads that reference alcohol are mostly regulated by local laws. Facebook doesn't appear to make any additional prohibitions (no pun intended).

Bing works the same way as Facebook and will disallow any ad that glorifies the consumption of alcohol. (There are many similar policies across all platforms.)

Twitter won't allow endorsement of alcoholic products by celebrities or icons that may appeal to minors. They're also picky about the glorification of alcohol consumption, like Bing. Interestingly, you can't "emphasize a product's alcoholic strength" in Twitter ads.

Google works along the same lines as other services.

It seems most of these networks won't let you suggest your alcoholic product has health benefits, in addition.

 Are you Banned?

There are many prohibited products we haven't discussed. They include weapons, hateful and discriminatory memorabilia, counterfeit goods, pornography, etc. For the most part, you're allowed to advertise almost every wholesome, healthy, safe thing. In some cases, things that might be helpful to someone are banned, which is unfortunate.

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Jennifer Stainforth