Google has blocked thousands of coronavirus-related ads and one healthcare organization says that’s hurting outreach

Estimated read time: 2 minutes



Chris Pace, Chief Digital Marketing Officer at Banner Health, posted this to social media:

Google is preventing the purchase of any COVID-19/Coronavirus keywords through their Google Ads platform. I think they should open it up to validated/verified health care providers. Not so we can market our services…our facilities are full and we’ve turned off advertising. We need to be able to get verified and validated information out to the communities we serve.

“Google’s current policy is only allowing whitelisted government health organizations to run ads as PSA for public health and safety,” said Healthcare SEM Expert Blayne Fielder, digital marketing director at Perficient. “This is reasonable to prevent price gouging or other parties from profiting off the emergency situation. On the other hand, it’s hard for a hospital to promote what’s happening on the ground in real time for patients who might be showing symptoms. It’s a little scary to realize how much we depend on search engines for real time info, yet what you see is up to their discretion.”

Here’s what Google says:

Our Trust and Safety team has been working around the clock and across the globe to safeguard our users from phishing, conspiracy theories, malware and misinformation, and we are constantly on the lookout for new threats. On YouTube, we are working to quickly remove any content that claims to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment. On Google Ads we are blocking all ads capitalizing on the coronavirus, and we’ve blocked tens of thousands of ads over the last six weeks. We are also helping WHO and government organizations run PSA ads. Google Play also prohibits developers from capitalizing on sensitive events, and our long-standing content policies strictly prohibit apps that feature medical or health-related content or functionalities that are misleading or potentially harmful.

With so much content and millions of searches for coronavirus it’s really hard to rank on organic only as Chris mentioned.

Here’s a current look at search volume:

In this episode of the Business Storytelling Podcast, Chris explains his reasoning why he thinks ads should be allowed for verified healthcare organizations. He also shares how boosted posts still work on Facebook and what other strategies his system is currently using to get the message out.