Google's NEW 3-Strikes Ad Policy: The Full Scoop + 5 Tips to Prepare

Google's NEW 3-Strikes Ad Policy: The Full Scoop + 5 Tips to Prepare

It feels like just yesterday we were discussing issues like how to dispute Google Ad disapprovals or the new restrictions for Housing, Employment, and Credit policies.And on July 20, 2021, we learned that come September, there’s going to be yet another twist in the plot of advertiser versus Google Ads policies, with Google’s new three-strike ad policy system. 

Advertisers aren’t surprised, but they do have mixed feelings about this soon-to-be-launched pilot program, and the implications will vary depending on your account. So today, I’m going to cover everything you need to know, including:

What Google’s three-strike ad policy system is, how it works, and when the pilot will go into effect.
The varying responses to this announcement within the PPC community.
Five ways you can prepare and avoid strikes and suspensions come September.
With this information, you’ll have a better grasp of what to expect once the strike pilot gets introduced. Plus, an understanding of what to do if your account gets hit with the new penalties.

What is Google’s three-strike ad policy system?

Google announced on July 20, 2021 that it will be piloting a new policy program in which repeat offenders of three of its current policies will get a series of penalties (strikes)—with the third strike resulting in indefinite account suspension.

If you’re familiar with Google Ads disapprovals, the three specific policies Google is piloting the system with won’t come as a shock to you:

Enabling dishonest behavior policy
Unapproved pharmaceuticals or supplements
Dangerous products or services
How the Google Ads three-strikes system will work

The first disapproval you get for violating any of those three policies is a “warning” that will only impact the offending ads (they will be taken down until you change the copy). If you continue to violate that same policy, you’ll be entered into the strikes system which impacts your entire account.

Strike one

The first strike comes into play if any portion of your ad violates the same policy you were previously warned about within 90 days of the original warning. This will result in a temporary hold on your account for three days—meaning none of your ads will run.

Once your three-day advertising “time out” is up, your account will continue to run as normal—but the violating ad will stay disabled until corrected.

Strike two

You get a second strike if you violate that same policy again within 90 days of the first strike. Once the second strike is initiated, your account will be put into a longer, seven day time out.

For strikes one and two, you’ll be required to submit an acknowledgement form in addition to correcting the ad at fault. 

Strike three

Let’s say you manage to repeatedly violate the same policy again within 90 days of the second strike. The final third strike will result in account suspension for an indefinite period.

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Sounds a bit harsh, right?

Google is so advanced in these policies that it even covers 3D printing of any of the unapproved products.  And remember, it’s not just your ad copy that could get a disapproval, but any content related to your account—including landing pages, images, and ad extensions.

So this may sound harsh, but considering the following details, it may not be not as harsh as you think:

Whenever a strike or warning is issued, you’ll receive an email notifying you of the violation (on top of the usual notification within the native platform). So it’s not like you’ll wake up to find your account suddenly suspended.
All advertisers will continue to be able to appeal any enforcement decision.
All warnings and strikes expire after 90 days. What this means is, you’ll still incur a hold on your disapproved asset until you correct the violation. But once 90 days have passed with no additional violations, your record is wiped clean and any new violations will start back at the warning stage.
Strikes occur only when the same policy is violated more than once.
When will Google Ads implement the strikes system?

The pilot is going to start as of September 1, 2021 and we don’t yet have information on how long it will last. Until then, the ad approval process will be status quo.

As with any pilot, there is a chance that the new systems will be rescinded depending on the results. But Google sounds like they’re hopeful that the new system will be here to stay:

“In the future, we plan to expand the strikes system in phases to scope more of our policies in. As we roll the program out globally, we hope to learn from early feedback to ensure we’re improving the process as we scale.”

The pilot will apply to all accounts across all countries. Of course, this will especially impact accounts that have struggled with those three policies in the past or already have approved yet questionable content running. But any account can get hit with strikes should they put up any violating content.

Reactions from the PPC community on the strikes pilot

When I browsed around #PPCchat, I found many advertisers unsurprised (as expected), but with varying sentiments.

Frustrated, but entertained

The Google Ads platform has a notorious history of wrongly applied disapprovals and a frustrating support system. So, many advertisers are baffled as to why Google is doing this when the automated review process is already so flawed.

But they are having fun with it:

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You might enjoy these tweets too:

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Frustrated, and wanting improvement

Some advertisers see this as a step in the right direction towards safety and security in the Google Ads space, but are frustrated with its current disapproval process.

A wish list of how it can/should be tweaked seems to be growing.

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Also wanting improvements, but unfazed

My take on all of this? It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. These three policies are more severe than a minor grammar or capitalization disapproval. If you’re a repeat violator of promoting dishonest behavior, unapproved substances, or dangerous products/services, you probably shouldn’t be advertising on Google anyway.

And while 90 days may seem like a long “probation” period, you’re much less likely to inadvertently violate these pretty obvious policies.

Given my experience, I don’t see the average account being negatively affected because unless it’s in a high-risk industry, it most likely already abides by the rules. However, it could get annoying as more policies get incorporated, so my request to Google? Improve the disapproval detection technology to understand the context of the content. 

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And if you’re thinking this system sounds harsh

I even ran a little LinkedIn poll and the results (even though my sample size is tiny) are pretty aligned with my conclusion that no one is really surprised or worried, but more so wary or unsure.

5 steps to prepare for Google’s three-strike ad policy system

You don’t have to start your September advertising efforts completely in the dark. Here are my recommendations for how you can get ready for this pilot—regardless if your account is at risk or not:

1. Appeal or resolve any outstanding disapprovals

Take this new initiative from Google as an opportunity as well as a reminder to review your account for any outstanding disapprovals.

You may as well sweep through and appeal or apply changes to rid yourself of any disapproved content so that you have less to worry about later—especially since Google mentioned plans for this system to incorporate other policies in future.

2. Check all corners of your account and website for any potentially triggering content

Save yourself a headache later and double check all of your digital assets for anything that could get picked up by the automated review system to play it safe.

As we know, it can be easy to get an incorrect disapproval. While some of that is on Google, we can focus on what we can control by removing or changing any verbiage or images that could even remotely pose a risk to those three policies.

A good rule of thumb is: if you’re questioning it, it’s probably best to change it.

While you’re at it, try our FREE Google Ads Performance Grader to get a full audit of your account!

While you’re in audit mode, run your account through our free Google Ads Performance Grader and learn how to save money and boost performance!

3. Roll out any new content prior to September if possible

This way, if anything does get disapproved for violation of one of those three policies, you save yourself a warning come September.

Remember, any time we make a change to ad copy (or roll out a new ad or ad extension) it automatically goes through Google’s review process. So if possible, try activating those campaigns now to test the waters of what does (or doesn’t) get approved. And if it doesn’t, you’ll have plenty of time to appeal it.

You can then pause the campaign until you’re ready to go live in September.

4. Set up advertising on other channels

As Google continues to build a no-nonsense policy structure, it’s becoming more important than ever to not rely on one single marketing channel. With the process for disapprovals continuing to be automated, you can’t always trust that bots will understand your ad context like a person.

In the event you do get disapproved—or worse, suspended—you’ll have peace of mind knowing you still have your brand awareness growing elsewhere while you resolve your Google issues.

5. DON’T make a backup account now or after your suspension

I’ll admit, I thought of the same exact workaround. If my account gets suspended for repeat disapprovals of these three policies, I can easily create a new account to try again, right?

Wrong. Google thought of everything already. In the same announcement, the platform promises that creating new accounts will result in more suspensions with the following statement:

“We already administer immediate account level suspensions when we detect egregious policy violations such as circumventing our systems (e.g., creating new accounts to bypass multi-strike suspensions), phishing or misrepresenting the product or service to intentionally mislead users.”

So, should you be concerned about Google’s three-strikes ad pilot? 

While advertisers aren’t surprised by the three-strikes program, many feel the disapproval and appeal processes need improvement. In my opinion, the policies it enforces are harder to inadvertently violate, so this shouldn’t have a major impact on the average account. But it all depends on your industry, what other channels you’re advertising on, and more. Either way, follow my tips to prepare and you can feel more confident when the pilot rolls out in September 2021!

Your Startup’s Equity Is A Currency

Your Startup’s Equity Is A Currency

As you probably know, your company’s equity is the ownership of your startup. You use a captable, the table outlining the distribution of a startup’s shares — but it can’t be done just any old way! If it’s not handled correctly, it can be a problem for your startup’s future. Making mistakes when you distribute equity can really screw up your startup in the long term. 

For an inexperienced founder, it might seem like the shares of a newly created company have almost no value. Even if that’s the case, it does not mean your shares will always be without value. 
Your shares do have value, even if there is no concrete numerical figure attached yet. If you give away too much equity while your shares have no concrete value, it might cause issues in the future when they do have value! That action is irreversible or at least very hard to reverse. 

Moreover, it doesn’t help founders when people around them also consider their equity of low value. Like my wise colleague Nino Subotic said:
“People think that just because they were present at the idea stage of your startup, they have earned themselves a large chunk of the equity of your company.” 

When it’s not worth much, they expect a large portion of it. 
This unfortunately, leads to founders giving away lots of shares to people who don’t actually help long term. On top of this, a crowded captable makes the startup unattractive to investors. And in most cases, it’s the investors who are going to help take you to the next level. 

The fact is that your equity is a currency, so use it as such! It has real value — shares should always be exchanged for something. Not given to someone just because “They want to be on my captable”. 

I would like a bag of diamonds. That doesn’t mean I’ve earned it! 
When people work for or help your company, shares are not always the right way to pay. Sometimes equity is a fair payment, sometimes money is more appropriate. And most importantly, that is your decision to make. 
So who gets equity? There are four different types of people you can have on your captable and each person has their place.  

Co-founders 

Co-founders should have almost all equity early on, but as the company raises capital and hires employees, their share will decrease. As an example, the Spotify founders started at 100% and were down at 30% ownership at the time of the IPO.
In exchange for having such a large share, founders are expected to be 110% committed and work full-time with the startup. Here, it’s important that founders sign a Founders’ Agreement or Shareholders Agreement so that the shares are contingent that you stay in the startup.

Advisors

Advisors may be essential for the type of startup you want to build, but you might not have enough capital to pay them out-of-pocket. In that case, you can instead offer them a few percent of equity. It’s also important that the shares they receive are contingent upon their actual participation. “I have some advice for your startup” does not an advisor make! 

Employees 

You want to attract top talent to your startup, but you might not have access to the capital required to compete efficiently on the talent market. Using an option pool to pay employees partly with shares on top of salary can be effective. 

Investors 

And of course, the one you’ve all been waiting for — investors! Investors are people who might want to join the ride, but they don’t want to help with their time. Instead, they prefer to chip in some capital. Investors are the ones who set the valuation of your company and determine what your shares are worth. But investors also need to think long term. If they invest at too low a valuation, they will take too big a part of your equity, which will make your startup unattractive for future investors. 
So you can see, managing your equity early is vital to the health and success of your startup. Treat it like real money. If you start passing it out willy-nilly, you’ll find your pockets empty when you need it most. Just because your shares do not yet have a concrete valuation does not mean they are without value. 
It’s about looking forward — the future value someone will bring and the importance of the future of your startup.
People with shares should be people who are passionate and that really care. You’re on this journey together, and it’s about equity after all!

5 Things to Know About Audits for Your Business

The word “audit” likely sends shivers up the spines of most small business owners. Audits are worrisome, time consuming, and very expensive in terms of professional fees and possible taxes, interest, and penalties.Business Audit TruthsBut a better understanding of audits may reduce concerns or, if necessary, help to handle them more easily.1. The chances of being audited are very low.According to the 2020 IRS Data Book that provides statistics on IRS audit activities during the government’s previous fiscal year (September 30, 2019, through October 1, 2020), only 0.1% of S corporations were audited. The percentage for partnerships was even lower. The rate for C corporation with a balance sheet of $5 million was only 0.3%. There are no separate statistics for Schedule C filers.While the IRS is seeking budget increases in order to step up audits, it’s not clear to what extent there will be an increased audit risk in the future. The IRS announced late last year that it would increase the number of audits of small businesses in 2021 by 50%. This is still a rather low percentage.2. Partnerships or partners? Who gets audited?Under a special audit regime, called the BBA Centralized Partnership Audit Regime, partnerships (including limited liability companies that file partnership returns) are audited at the entity level. This means that adjustments are made to the business return and any amounts owed are handled by the partnership (unless it chooses to push this cost out to partners).However, “small partnerships”—those with 100 or fewer partnerships all of whom are individuals, C corporations, S corporations, estates of deceased partners, and certain foreign entities—may elect out of this audit regime. If the election is made, the IRS must audit a partner to question how a partnership item has been treated.3. If selected for audit, you have rights.You may be selected for audit for any number of reasons, including an omission of income that’s been reported to the IRS on an information return (e.g., you didn’t pick up properly the income reported on Schedule K-1 from your S corporation or partnership or omitted income on Schedule C of Form 1040 that was reported to you—and the IRS—on Form 1099-NEC). If you agree with the audit, which may be in the form of a simple letter (“correspondence audit”), you can settle up quickly.But if you don’t agree and want to challenge the IRS position, you have certain rights. Your rights include being presented by a tax professional, having your confidentiality protected, and receiving courteous service. But you also must comply with requests for information and do so in a timely manner. Check IRS Publication 556 to learn about your rights.4. The initial audit isn’t the final answer.If you don’t agree with the results of an audit, you have a right to appeal. The first step is an appeal within the IRS. If the total amount the IRS says is owed (taxes, interest, and penalties) is $25,000 or less, you may make a small case request. Otherwise, you have to make a more formal protest.There’s more about your appeals rights and how to protest if you don’t agree with the IRS in Publication 5.5. The IRS doesn’t have the last word.If, after appealing an IRS determination about your return, you still think you’re right, you can tell it to the judge. You don’t have to pay what the IRS says you owe. Instead, you can bring the matter to the Tax Court. You must file within 90 days of date the IRS notice of deficiency is mailed to you.If the amount outstanding is no more than $50,000, you can use a small Tax Court procedure (see Title XVII for particulars). This procedure costs you less and gets done quicker, but you can’t appeal the court’s decision.The IRS has more information to help with filing a petition in Tax Court.Alternatively, you may choose to pay what’s owed and then seek a tax refund in a U.S. district court or Federal Claims Court.Final thoughtsThe best defense against being audited is to handle things properly from the start. Report income correctly, claim only deductions and credits to which you are entitled (and have supporting documentation), and file on time (including applicable extensions).If you do come under audit, you may go it alone (“pro se”), but it’s also highly advisable to consult with a tax professional. This will help you determine the best course of action and may wind up saving you those ever-present concerns…time and money.Image: Depositphotos

Top Penny Stocks To Buy Now? 4 To Watch At The End Of July 2021

July
25, 2021

6 min read

This story originally appeared on PennyStocks

Are These Top Penny Stocks on Your August Watchlist?

With August right around the corner, investors are searching for the best penny stocks to buy now. To do so is a combination of research and having a proper trading strategy for penny stocks. This year investors should also consider the effects of social media on the stock market. Websites such as Reddit and Twitter have become major influences on price action. Because of this, it’s important to stay up to date in order to stay ahead of the newest trends. 

[Read More] 3 Former Penny Stocks With Bullish Analysts & Price Targets Up To 120%

With August only a few days away, it could be time for the market to refresh, and hopefully, stay on a solid bullish trajectory. But, with the pandemic still in full swing, this is pure speculation right now. Here are four penny stocks to watch as July comes to an end. 

Top Penny Stocks To Buy [or avoid] Right Now:

Verb Technology Company Inc. (NASDAQ: VERB) Luokung Technology Corp. (NASDAQ: LKCO) Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE: UEC) IZEA Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ: IZEA) 

Verb Technology Company Inc. (NASDAQ: VERB)

Over the past year, the tech industry has become one of the most popular sectors to find penny stocks. And, one of the leaders in this industry right now is Verb Technology Company. Verb operates as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company. This means that it provides software to companies and businesses alike.

One thing to keep in mind is that VERB stock is considered a meme stock. This means that it is frequently discussed on Reddit and Twitter, alongside other popular companies such as GME stock and AMC stock. While this does make it more volatile, it also increases the amount of investor attention placed on the company.

Verb’s platform consists of subscription-based software that is accessible by its clients. These applications have a user interface both on desktops as well as mobile devices. In the past month alone, shares of VERB stock have shot up by over 100%. This is a major gain especially considering the large fall the market took on Monday, July 19th.

SaaS is a thriving business right now and has remained that way throughout the pandemic. With more people online, more businesses are looking for tech solutions to solve everyday issues. Considering this, does VERB stock have a place on your penny stocks watchlist?

Luokung Technology Corp. (NASDAQ: LKCO)

Another technology company to keep an eye on this coming month is Luokung Technology. As a company, LKCO is a leader in the spatial-temporal intelligence industry. It additionally has earned a strong reputation for location-based services (LBS) and HD maps. Most of its business is conducted in China, where it provides services for everything from autonomous vehicles to in-vehicle mapping.

This has become a large industry in the past few years, and one that many investors expect to continue growing in the near future. And, if we also consider the extremely high demand for vehicles right now, we see even more potential for LKCO stock in the long term.

On July 22nd, Luokung announced that its subsidiary, eMapGo will be providing autonomous driving simulation testing services for Geely Automobile Research Institute Co. Ltd. Geely is considered the largest domestic automobile company in China, and sold over 1.32 million vehicles last year alone.

“Luokung’s autonomous driving simulation test product is one that we are particularly proud of. We have provided services to several global automakers and tier 1 suppliers and look forward to expanding our customer base by promoting safe autonomous driving travel services.” Mr. Xuesong Song, CEO of Luokung

This is big news for the company, and could turn into a longer term deal if all goes according to plan. While the full details of this announcement are not yet available, it could be interesting to keep up to date with LKCO stock. 

Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE: UEC)

The uranium market has been on fire in the past year and a half. With a global push toward clean energy, uranium continues to be a top choice for its efficiency and renewable nature. In line with this, Uranium Energy Corp. is one of the primary choices for penny stocks investors looking to get into the uranium industry.

Its portfolio contains one of the largest databases of historic uranium mining developments in the country. The company owns its Hobson processing facility, which is centrally located in Southern Texas, where other uranium operations are ongoing right now. 

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With an extensive history of mining and a strong leadership team, UEC is aggressively pursuing new opportunities in the uranium industry. Most of its vision is focused on property acquisitions throughout the U.S. Besides Texas, this includes New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, and Colorado. Because of the increasing demand for uranium, UEC could be well-positioned for the future of cheap and clean energy. With all of this in mind, will UEC be on your penny stocks watchlist moving forward?

IZEA Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ: IZEA)

IZEA Worldwide is a company that works in the marketing industry. For some context, IZEA offers both software and professional services based on the influencer market. This allows influencers to connect with brands, and therefore, grow the creator economy to new heights. Launched in 2006, IZEA has since mediated around 4 million transactions, which is no small feat. 

On July 21st, IZEA announced that it had secured a $1 million influencer marketing contract expansion. These funds will come from a Fortune 500 customer for influencer marketing services.

“Team IZEA is off to a strong start for Q3 2021, bolstered by several meaningful contract awards from repeat customers. We have already set a record for the best-Managed Services bookings in the month of July, and we are continuing to see strong demand for our expertise in the influencer marketing industry.” Ted Murphy, Founder, and CEO of IZEA

In addition to this, the company announced that its Managed Service bookings in Q2 2021, increased by almost 190% to $11.1 million. This is very substantial, and something that investors should keep in mind. With the influencer and creator space growing everyday, IZEA stock could be worth adding to your list of penny stocks to watch. 

Which Penny Stocks Are on Your August Watchlist?

If you’re making a penny stocks watchlist right now, there are plenty of options to choose from. With so many penny stocks out there, it can seem like a daunting task to just pick a few from the list.

[Read More] Hot Penny Stocks to Buy For Reopening? Check These 3 Out

However, with the right research in hand and a commitment to finding the best stocks to buy, it can be done. Considering this, which penny stocks are on your watchlist right now?

Breaking Down The Barriers Preventing Millions From Investing In Companies That Do Good

Breaking Down The Barriers Preventing Millions From Investing In Companies That Do Good

In the age of sustainability impact investing and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), the non-financial factors that investors apply to identify material risks and growth opportunities, have become buzz terms. But not for everyone. According to research from new investment fund manager DUGUUD, this industry jargon leaves many people mystified and this is holding them back from investing in businesses that help the environment and society.

The survey of 3,000 adults found that just 10% were aware of the term impact investing and could explain it, yet when it was explained to them 60% agreed that it could create positive change in the environment and society. And three times more people agreed than disagreed that if they had funds to invest, they would want to invest in this area.
“It’s time for the whole financial services industry to ditch terms like impact investing and ESG and to start talking in a language everyone can understand,” says DUGUUD’s CEO and serial entrepreneur David Scrivens.

DUGUUD, the trading name of Amberside Capital, is an FCA-regulated fund manager launched this month, with a focus on climate change, increasing biodiversity, improving public health, reducing inequality, and improving education. It was born out of a need to create a platform that allows the general public to invest in companies that make a genuine and positive difference to the world.

“It is difficult and costly to create a fund that’s open to the public, and it takes a lot of marketing spend to reach them,” says Scrivens. “Most fund managers get institutional investors, such as pension funds, to meet the minimum investment level required to launch a fund, but this route is often to the exclusion of the general public.”

The research also revealed a significant level of cynicism, with 58% of respondents of the opinion that most businesses claiming to be doing good are actually spending more time and money marketing their environmental and societal intentions than on taking tangible actions. Two-thirds (67%) also agreed that there are now so many businesses claiming to run their business in a way that is better for the environment and society that they find it difficult to trust the real impact of most of their claims.

“It is extremely difficult to prove environmental and social change, and comparing organizations is also tricky,” says Scrivens. “There is no easy solution to this without government intervention to create tools for measuring impact.”
However, he insists that DUGUUD will not allow the companies it invests in to focus on just the one area of good they may be doing, but will hold them to account for all aspects of their business. They will also show investors tangible examples of what companies are doing, for example, how the company has moved to greener energy, not just by paying an electricity supplier to certify that they are getting green energy when it just comes through the grid, but by building additional green energy generation.
The team has already invested in several projects, including £17 million in Sterling Suffolk, which produces tomatoes in what has been dubbed ‘Europe’s cleverest greenhouse’. The semi-closed hydroponic glasshouse is considered 25% more energy efficient than a traditional one and allows for greater carbon absorption, and potentially creates better-tasting crops.
Wildanet is a Cornwall-based fiber company aiming to bring much-needed high-speed internet to rural communities in the region to improve digital inclusion. DUGUUD has raised the company around £50 million to help them achieve this goal.
Other investments include Virti, which trains medical staff remotely using virtual reality, and which has been incredibly valuable during the pandemic, and Ateria Health, which has developed a way to improve gut bacteria in humans that could help with common issues such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Another key finding of the research was that 67% of adults who were asked about investing would expect independent financial advisors (IFAs) to understand this area and supply options as part of the funds they discuss with customers, while 59% would also expect any pension provider to consider these kinds of investments in how they manage, invest and report on the pension fund.
This highlights the role that IFAs and pension firms have to play in creating more clarity for their clients around investing for positive change. “We believe that all professionals should be helping to spread the word about investing to make an improvement for society, and we aim to work with as many of them as possible,” says Scrivens.
Looking ahead, the plan is to create a fund that draws on the investment team’s infrastructure experience to make larger environmental and social projects come to fruition, and to launch a science-based fund focused on investment in technologies that can make a huge difference to the planet or society, but preferably both.
Scrivens adds: “We are also considering whether to offer a small part of our own company for individuals to invest in so that people can join us on our journey to make a real positive difference and help more companies that do good get the investment they need.”