Bad news first: This year we’ve observed a record number of Google Ad Grant account suspensions.
The good news is that the accounts can generally be reactivated. (We have not bumped into any accounts that we could not remedy and get back into service).
The better news is that, in most cases, Google issues a 30-day suspension notice, which leaves the Google Ad Grants account operating normally for another month. This provides a 30-day window to remedy their cited issues, which oftentimes is because the overall account CTR is below 5% and/or specific keywords have a Quality Score of “2” or below. But there are a parade of other issues that can be cited, as well.
Now, of course anytime new campaigns, ads or keywords are added they have no Quality Score or CTR, so Google needs to let the new items run for long enough to establish performance metrics. What that means is that normal account maintenance can result in account suspension notices — unless you are not trying to improve an account that is fully compliant.
In the past a nonprofit could have a poorly performing account for years without any liability. In other words, even if Google Ad Grants was poorly set up and managed, it would still continue operating.
As of the new rules issued on January 1, 2018, Google is now requiring their ad grant recipients to maintain their accounts at a higher performance threshold than regular businesses who are paying for the ads.
Although this has negatively impacted many nonprofits who have not complied with the new rules and have since lost their ad grants, the upside is that for nonprofit who take the time to sincerely remedy their accounts and especially leverage the Google Ad Grants Story Triangle, they will end up with a much more productive account for their nonprofit than ever before.
By the way, although from our vantage of managing client Google Ad Grants accounts, and speaking with inquiries, the amount of suspensions is obvious. But here is a more official perspective from a Google Rep in their help forum:
Thank you for your feedback on this – we are working through a backlog at the moment. We saw a spike in the number of accounts that needed to make adjustments to comply with policies and wanted to address them prior to peak charity months of November and December. We urge you to use our reactivation form to reach the Ad Grants specialists directly, which currently has a ~2-3 day response time. Please try this form and let me know if you’re not getting a resolution.
The bottom line for nonprofits is that more work is required to get your Google Ad Grants account compliant and more work is required on an ongoing basis to keep it compliant.
Having said all that, one more benefit of the new Google Ad Grants rules for 2018 is that if there have been other nonprofits who have been competing for the same keywords that your nonprofit is advertising, some of those nonprofits have already gone away and some will be going away. This means your ads can see an additional performance boost due to lower competition. Regardless, you can no longer ignore compliance matters with Google Ad Grants.