The Dangers Of Remarketing Sensitive Products

By Cassie Oumedian | @cass_oumedian | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing

While Remarketing is all the buzz in PPC, It’s not always rainbows & lollipops when it comes to Remarketing sensitive products. There are many dangers lurking out there including policy caveats and approval issues that could jeopardize your campaign’s success. Below we will cover what Google considers a sensitive category, what ads are allowed/prohibited and what alternative Retargeting options are out there.


Dynamic Remarketing, Remarketing For Search, Retargeting, all of these are probably things that you have heard about before and for good reason, they work! In one case study Remarketing campaigns yielded a 44% higher conversion rate compared to display campaigns. The reason they work is because they are “warm” leads, in a sense. They are already in the funnel, expressed interest, or engaged with your site.


With all this information about the user at our disposal, we are able to create ads that can really creep a user out if not done right. Because of this (and a bunch of lawsuits), there are a lot more policy restrictions that need to be considered before jumping in the money pool (Scrooge McDuck Style) when Remarketing on sensitive categories.

Below are a few categories that are considered sensitive and are either prohibited, or restricted by Google:

  • Interest or participation in adult activities (including alcohol, gambling, adult dating, pornography, etc.) – Prohibited – Not a chance, sorry folks!
  • Racial or ethnic information – Restrictions
  • Political affiliation – Restrictions
  • Religion or religious belief – Restrictions
  • Negative financial status or situation – Restrictions
  • Health or medical information – Restrictions
  • Ads Appealing to Children – Restrictions

What’s Allowed and What’s Not?


What’s Not:

For example in Health and Medical Category Google States:

“In creating ads for Remarketing campaigns in this category, the ad content should not imply knowledge of a person’s medical history or health conditions.”

Not Allowed


What’s Allowed:

Google states “We generally allow sites or apps that are non-medical in nature and don’t collect personal medical information to use Remarketing.”

Allowed Ads


Basically Google is saying that they won’t show ads that in some way or another show that you are aware of a users health condition, race, political affiliation, ect. Google has been somewhat relaxed about enforcing some of these policies but I’ve noticed in some of my health related accounts that they have started enforcing these policies more strictly so beware!  Here is a link to more information around Google Remarketing policies.



What to do if you fall under one of these categories?!?


Just because there are restrictions doesn’t mean you need to call it a day and opt of a piece of the Remarketing pie altogether, just be aware and cautious. Google reviews the ads and the website to determine if the Remarketing lists will be approved or disapproved. The editorial review process with these categories I find to be a bit ambiguous so if you have a Google Rep, it’s always good to have them on stand-by to help with approvals or run it by them first. Below are a couple other things you can do to help.


Sensitive Category Best Practices

–       Use frequency capping to prevent creep factor

–       Avoid ad creative that suggests personal info about the user

–       Consult with your Google rep

–       Make sure privacy policies on your page are clear and up to date.

–       For more tips check out our Remarketing Guide


Alternative Retargeting Options

Google deemed your Remarketing list as disapproved?? Don’t worry! There are lots of other networks out there that offer Retargeting alternatives some of which include:

–       Facebook Exchange

–       Facebook Newsfeed Retargeting

–       Twitter Retargeting

–       AdRoll

–       Criteo

–       Retargeter

–       AdBlade

–       Many More


Closing Thoughts


As I mentioned previously Remarketing/Retargeting can be a very lucrative opportunity – even if Google deems it a sensitive category (except gambling, alcohol, ect.) just be aware of the policy requirements and know there are alternative options out there. I’ve personally seen Google start putting the smack down on sensitive categories like Health but have already started investing more money into these alternative networks and seeing great results so far.

What other networks have you found successful for sensitive category retargeting?