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Microsoft Advertising policies help advertisers learn what makes a great ad, as well as what is and isn’t allowed in them.

The editorial review is a quality check to help ensure that ads are well written and relevant to potential customers. After you submit an ad group, the content goes through a review to ensure that it meets Microsoft Advertising guidelines. If your ads and keywords don't raise any flags, they pass the review and become active.

After reading this Study guide, you will understand how to:

  • Adhere to style and content policies.
  • Avoid disapproved ads and keywords.
  • Avoid common editorial disapprovals.
  • Understand image, audio, and video functionality policies.
  • Fix limited or disapproved status.
  • Make sure that your ad does not duplicate any of your other ads.
  • Use Microsoft Advertising Editor to address disapprovals.

Ad style policies

Style refers to the way your ad looks and reads with the use of capitalization, grammar and punctuation. By following the Microsoft Advertising rules related to style, your ad will be effective and clear.
Style policy highlights:

  • Capitalization is allowed for proper names, branded words and legitimate acronyms. Don’t use random capitalization, even if you’re trying to emphasize part of your ad copy.
    • Approved: Purchase Cheddar cheese from England.
    • Disapproved: Find GREAT deals on soFTwaRe.
       
  • Phone numbers: The use of phone numbers in ad copy or Call Extensions must comply with Microsoft Advertising policies. You can only use Call Extensions or Location Extensions to add a phone number to your ad copy in the following markets: US, CA, UK, HK, TW.
  • Symbols or special characters including currency, trademark, copyright, model numbers, acronyms, ISBNs and trademarks containing special characters, are ok. Non-standard character sets for the language, superscripts or subscripts, or enhanced fonts, like bold and italic, are not allowed.
    • Approved: Games & software at A*DATUM for $99.
    • Disapproved: Find great deals on software *restrictions apply
  • Use correct punctuation at the end of your ad. Multiple exclamation points or question marks are not allowed.
    • Approved: Great deals on software! 50% off all titles.
    • Disapproved: Great deals on software!!!! 50% off all titles!!!
  • Character limits are calculated, including ads with dynamic text. If your ad title, ad text or destination URL exceeds certain character limitations, you will receive an error message.

 An example of an Expanded Text Ad.

This ad consists of four parts:

Ad part and character limit Example (see above)

Ad titles

Flowers for any occasion - Delivered right to your door!

Ad description

Sustainably grown flowers on sale and ready to ship within 4 hours.

Path (Domain and subdomain automatically generated from your final URL, plus two customizable URL paths with 15 characters each.)

www.contoso.com/Seattle/Flowers

Final URL (2,048 characters)

www.contoso.com/Floral/SeaWa/default.aspx

 

Here is a complete breakdown of the elements of a search ad, including character limits:

Ad placement Search Ads

Ad title

30 (77 characters if dynamic text is used.)

Ad description

80 characters, including spaces. (300 characters if dynamic text is used.)

Path

15 characters each. (50 characters if dynamic text is used.)

Final URL

2048 characters

Mobile URL

2048 characters

Tracking template

2048 characters

Custom parameter name

16 characters

Custom parameter value

200 characters

 

  • For effective ads, use correct spelling and grammar. Common abbreviations or substitutions, like ampersand, are acceptable. Gimmicky spelling and jargon should not be used.
  • Keep your pricing and discount language accurate. Price quotes may appear in ads if they are also visible on the landing page. Pricing must accurately reflect the actual offer that users will find on the site.
    • Approved: Get cable for as low as $9.95 per month.
    • Disapproved: All items 20% off. (*If only a portion of the landing page items are 20% off.)
       
  • A combined total of at least three words is required in the ad title and ad text for a mobile ad. Ads with two or fewer words are not allowed.

Ad content policies

There are two specific Microsoft Advertising rules related to content that will help you eliminate redundancy, low quality ads or confusing user experiences.

Duplicate Ads:

Content that is too similar runs the risk of being disallowed. To comply, don’t submit multiple ads that link to sites whose content or design is very similar.

Multiple ads may be displayed if the target site for each ad has:

  • A separate, distinct brand
  • A unique look and feel
  • Different products or services
Foreign Language:

As a general rule, you may not use two different languages within the same ad copy, except for commonly used terms or brands. Also, landing pages should be in the local language(s) of the market. (Case by case decisions may be made based on the general comprehension of the language in a specific market.)

Foreign language words are allowed where they naturally fall into local language usage. For example, in English-speaking regions, the following foreign words are allowed: résumé, faux, burrito, café, fiancé, cliché, curriculum vitae, Zeitgeist.

Approved Examples:

Tour Mexico
www.contoso.com
Packages for families.
Prices for the summer!

Disapproved Examples:

Tour Mexico
www.contoso.com
Packages for families.
Precios para el verano!

URL and landing page policies

URLs should accurately describe your ad’s landing page. Also, landing pages should load and function as normally expected — disruptive or deceptive content is not allowed.

Policy

The display URL must be of valid format.

The display URL cannot be used in a misleading manner.

Display URL cannot be used as another line of text.

Approved Example
Approved Example

www.contoso.com
contoso.com
http://floor.contoso.com

Display URL:
www.contoso.gov
Landing page URL:
www.contoso.gov

Display URL:
www.contoso.com/woodplans
Landing page URL:
www.contoso.com/woodplans

Disapproved Example
Disapproved Example

http:// Buy floor here
www.contoso
floor@contoso.com

Display URL:
www.contoso.gov
Landing page URL:
www.xyz.info

Display URL: call us now
Landing page URL:
www.contoso.com/woodplans

Remember, a reliable landing page is essential for quality clicks and impressions – especially at peak times. With regard to site behavior and navigation approvals, the Back button on your landing page must always be functional.

  • The landing page must not:
    • Use "fake" close behavior. For example, when a user clicks a "close" button on the page, it should close that page, and no other behavior should result:
    • Be designed to look broken or simulate a non-working webpage in any way.
    • Mislead the user with "imitation" dialog boxes or browser windows.

Especially important is your URL sends users to the same static landing page every time.

Images, audio, and video functionality policies

Images, audio and video are effective communication tools on the web. When using them in conjunction with advertising on Microsoft Advertising, you must follow the policies and ensure you comply with applicable policies in the market(s) where your advertisement is displayed. 

Ads may not feature images, wording or phrases included solely to generate user’s attention and increase click through. (For example: "Tell us if our products suck," “Kill fat”). Personalization is not allowed.

Attention grabbing mechanisms and/or animation with the sole purpose of distracting the user via repetitive, rapid flashing, strobing or blinking tactics or has the potential to significantly distract users from editorial content or user experience are not allowed. This includes animated Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

Images must meet average industry standards, including proper image quality and resolution. For example, images may not be fuzzy, obscured or non-readable.

Users should be in control of the visual and audio experience, on click for instance, both within ad copy or landing page.

Videos must be relevant to your ad, relating to your product, service, or brand. Videos cannot auto-play, and the ability to pause and/or stop the video must be present. All movie trailers must be Green Band, or preceded by applicable ratings (displayed in advance of the actual video play).

All images, audio and video must adhere to all other policies. Learn more about Microsoft Advertising Suffering and violence policy.

Disapproved ads

Editorial checks do not stop once an ad is live. The Microsoft Advertising team performs ongoing reviews to help ensure a quality marketplace. For this reason, ads and keywords that have previously displayed may be disapproved.

Common causes of disapprovals

The Microsoft Advertising Disallowed content policy reserves the right to reject or remove any ad at any time, especially in the case of certain content considered sensitive, illegal, dangerous, harmful and/or potentially unethical in nature. Please also review the Disallowed and restricted products policy for a better understanding of specific laws in different regions.

Here are general Microsoft Advertising guidelines to avoid common editorial disapprovals:

  • Intellectual property & counterfeit
    Microsoft take allegations of trademark infringement seriously. If trademark and/or copyright are infringed, Microsoft Advertising will remove an ad. The same goes for counterfeit. If you are a trademark owner and want to submit an allegation, please complete the Intellectual Property Concern Form.  
  • Pharmacy and health care
    Microsoft Advertising restricts/limits the promotion of prescription-only drugs. Advertisers may not bid on keywords relating to prescription-only medications, including prescription medications for animals, unless they are properly certified in the market they are serving.
  • Adult content
    If your ads, keywords or destination website include adult content, like sexually explicit content (pornography, sexually oriented dating sites, prominently featured sex toy sites, etc.), then you must participate in the Microsoft Advertising Adult Advertising Program — please apply through the Adult advertising program participation form.
  • Gambling and contests
    Sites that accept wagers or require payment or other consideration in exchange for the chance to win prizes are not allowed. Likewise, sites that offer both information and links related primarily to the promotion of online gambling are not allowed. Policies vary by region.
     
  • Online fraud
    Advertising for ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, chain letters, certain solicitation of money, and any other legally questionable business opportunities, is not permitted.
  • Financial products
    Advertisers who promote financial products and services must ensure they comply with all applicable local laws and regulatory requirements. Cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency related products including, but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, and cryptocurrency wallets are disallowed. Non-regulated binary options are likewise disallowed.
  • Weapons and weapon-related products
    In addition to firearms, air guns, BB guns, and other similar items, as well as accessories that attach to weapons and/or aid in their use, including ammunition creation, loading, etc., are disallowed. Products that are not part of weapons or used to create ammunition or weapons are allowed. For example, ads for holsters, weapon cleaning kits, gun safes, and concealed weapon clothing are allowed. However, ad copy that is ambiguous and can be seen as promoting disallowed content will be rejected, even if the product on the landing page is acceptable.
  • Political ads
    Political candidate and ballot measure ads are disallowed for Microsoft Advertising in the United States.
     
  • Under 18 users
    Ads will not be shown to the under 18 age group if the ad content is determined to be gambling, tobacco, weapons, violence, alcohol, adult, pharma, drugs, mature, political content or religion/hate speech. This age filter will be applied regardless of the user setting. Information from the user’s Microsoft account will be used to determine the user’s age.

Learn more about Microsoft Advertising polices about user safety and privacy. Learn more about what might trigger an additional editorial review.

How do I fix a Disapproved or Approved Limited status?

Approved Limited is a delivery status related to location targeting. It means either your ad or keyword is approved and eligible to serve in at least one of its targeted locations, and/or your ad or keyword is either pending or disapproved in at least one other targeted location.

If you receive an email saying you had a Disapproved or Approved Limited ad or keyword, take the following steps:

Click the Ads tab or the Keywords tab. The delivery status of your ads or keywords can be found in the Delivery column. (You can sort the Delivery column to more easily find the Disapproved or Approved Limited items by clicking the Delivery column header.)

Click the ellipsis icon More information iconnext to the status in the Delivery column to see the ad or keyword's disapproved terms and the reasons for the disapprovals.

If the status is Approved Limited, you will also see the specific market(s) in which the ad or keyword is disapproved. This ad or keyword is not functional in the listed market(s), but it is functional in all other targeted locations.

If an ad or keyword is listed as Approved Limited in Microsoft Advertising (see this article to learn how to find the status of ads and keywords), click on the three dots next to the words Approved Limited.

If it was disapproved in at least one of your targeted locations, you will see:

  • The reason it was disapproved.
  • The location(s) in which the disapproval occurred.
  • The part of the submission that triggered the disapproval.

How do I challenge disapprovals?

If you feel that your ad or keyword should not have been disapproved, you can request an exception.

If an ad or keyword is disapproved as you are creating it, click the Request an exception button.

In the Tell us your reason for requesting an exception box, tell us why you believe the ad or keyword meets the policies and should not have been disapproved, or why the policy in question doesn't apply. Click Save.

You can also request an exception to the disapproval after the editorial review. Go to the Campaigns page and click the Ads tab or the Keywords tab.

Find the affected ad(s) or keyword(s). Disapproved ads or keywords will have either Disapproved or Approved Limited listed in the Delivery column.

Select the checkbox to the left of the affected ad(s) or keyword(s). Select Edit > Request exception, and then select either All ads/keywords in this ad group or All keywords in this ad group.

In the Tell us your reason for requesting an exception box, tell us why you believe the ad or keyword meets Microsoft Advertising policies and should not have been disapproved, or why the policy in question doesn't apply. Click Request an exception.

Note: If your exception request is denied, the decision is final.

Disapprovals in Microsoft Advertising Editor

While making bulk edits to your campaigns offline using the Microsoft Advertising Editor, you can quickly:

  • Search for keywords that have failed editorial review.
  • See whether their status is appealable.
  • Appeal multiple keywords in bulk using one appeal entry.

In Microsoft Advertising Editor, the View drop-down menu allows you to work with your campaigns, ad groups, text ads, and keywords by sorting and presenting data in group types, such as active, paused, pending and deleted. One group is Editorial Disapprovals, which contains the sub-groups: adult, drugs and weapons. Choose these sub-groups to see keywords that have failed editorial review.

If you have disapproved keywords, and their status is Active-Appealable, you can submit an appeal for one, several or all of your keywords directly from the Edit Selected Rows menu found in the Manager pane. Simply select the keyword or keywords you would like to appeal, and type your response in the reasons for requesting exceptions to editorial disapprovals text field. The next time you post changes, your appeal will be sent to Microsoft Advertising for review.

Similarly, in the Microsoft Advertising interface within the Keywords panel you can submit a request for exception by clicking on the ellipsis icon next to the “Disapproved” notification within the “Delivery” column. Simply tell us your reason for requesting an exception and submit the request exception.

Summary

Microsoft Advertising policies are sets of rules that apply to style, content and functionality for ads. They are designed to ensure the quality and consistency of the search ads Microsoft Advertising delivers across the Microsoft Search Network. These content policies will help you with the overall quality of your Microsoft Advertising content, such as eliminating redundancy, low quality ads or confusing user experiences.
When writing ads, it’s important to remember:

  • Ads must meet editorial policies for capitalization, punctuation, spelling, character limits and promotions in order to go live.
  • Ads, keywords and links to landing pages must adhere to the Microsoft Advertising content policies, or they will be disapproved.
  • Microsoft Advertising guidelines can vary from country to country.
  • Microsoft Advertising offers clear editorial guidelines to help you create compliant, successful ads.

Thanks for reading this Study guide on editorial guidelines. Continue studying or take the Microsoft Advertising Certified Professional exam to become certified.
Read more about Microsoft Advertising policies in the Microsoft Advertising policies website. 

Please note all features in this Study guide may not be available in your market.