How to Write an Ad Policy

Sarah Wheeler
Sarah Wheeler
How to Write an Ad Policy

Setting ad standards is crucial when launching your ad platform. A public ad policy for advertisers ensures your platform's ads are monetarily successful and cultivate an enjoyable customer experience. It dictates acceptable ad content for your site, app, and other screens.

Your ad policy is not a legal document, but a high-level overview of what advertisers need to know before partnering with you.

This playbook details how to build your ad policy. We also provide a template for your use.

Download ad policy template

Business benefits of an ad policy

It's important to know the purpose of an ad policy, as it affects users, advertisers, and publishers by:

  1. Preventing off-brand ads: An ad policy with guidelines on ad visuals and content ensures high-quality and on-brand ads. When companies know the restricted content beforehand, your team doesn't have to go back and forth with advertisers about off-brand ads as often.
  2. Promoting legal compliance: Ads need to comply with different governmental laws. Your team is responsible for reinforcing this, but informing advertisers of privacy compliance standards will help you out later.
  3. Maximizing revenue: High-quality ads mean higher user engagement, retention, and satisfaction, leading to more revenue for you and your advertisers.

How to create an ad policy

Below is a step-by-step guide to creating an ad policy:

1. Know your local laws.

You are responsible for ensuring advertisers follow local laws, including ad disclosure requirements, illegal products, and anti-discriminatory targeting.

Twitter’s ad policy, for example, outlines multiple situations where an ad would be rejected. Depending on your product and targeting capabilities, such policies may not be applicable to your advertisers.

Anti-Discriminatory Targeting Policy

Housing, Employment, and Lending Opportunities

Illegal Products and Services (by Country)

Targeting Sensitive Categories Policy, such as children

We recommend working with your legal team to identify situations where you need to block a campaign from running.

Twitter policy

Twitter legal policy example by country

2. Define Creative Guidelines

You want ads to be high-quality and consistent with your brand’s look and feel. It’s important, then, to outline your creative guidelines:

  • Visual standards: Define what creatives are off limits, such as animation, certain colors, and distracting images.
  • Logistical standards: Detail logistics like minimum file size, resolution, and ad sizes.
  • Merchant branding: Be clear that outside ads should not look exactly like your own content. If applicable, advertisers should include their logo or name in the ad.
  • Your branding: Ads should also not appear similar to your company brand, bear your logo, etc.

Klarna policy

Klarna creative policy example

3. Define Copy Guidelines

Make sure your ad policy covers copy guidelines like:

  • Timely messaging: Promotions shouldn’t be out of date. Also, make sure that wording is consistent with time of year, like Christmas or Valentine’s Day ads.
  • Accurate messaging: Advertisers should not lie or make unsubstantiated claims
  • On-brand messaging: Make sure ad copy is congruent with your company values.
  • Inflammatory content: Outlaw controversial or harmful content.
  • Misinformation: Don't let wrong information appear on your site.
  • Language: Identify if you will have any language or wording restrictions.
  • CTAs: Outline what call-to-actions are allowed. Maybe you deem “Act now or else” to be off-brand for you.

4. Define Restricted Content

Your ad policy should clearly define what is prohibited within ad content. Depending on your site, these rules may vary. Here are some general categories that companies prohibit:

  • Violence
  • Substance abuse
  • Sexual content
  • Degrading content
  • Political content
  • Religious content
  • Discriminatory content
  • Third-party infringement

If an advertiser sends a creative with such restricted content, you can point to your ad policy as the reason you reject it.

5. Define Prohibited Services and Products

While above deals with ad copy, you should also outline what types of companies/products you won’t partner with at all.

This could include:

  • Pyramid schemes
  • Tobacco-related products
  • Firearm-related products
  • Payday lenders
  • Ticket resellers

Ultimately, make sure that the ads and advertisers are congruent with your company values. If you're an environmental start-up, for example, you won't want gas companies advertising. Make your prohibitions as specific as possible to avoid branding mistakes.

Facebook policy

Facebook policy example

6. Ad Review Process

Your ad policy is also an opportunity to outline the ad review process. This can include details like:

  • How long it takes for a creative / campaign to be approved and go live
  • What happens if an ad is rejected
  • How to request a re-review

Conclusion

When it comes to defining an ad policy, clarity is key. The more thoughtful, the better. At the same time, don't let your readers get lost in your policy. Be concise as well, so it’s easy for them to understand. For further inspiration, here's Klarna's, Twitter's, Google's, and Facebook's ad policy.

About Kevel

Kevel offers the infrastructure APIs needed to quickly build custom ad platforms for sponsored listings, internal promotions, native ads, and more - so you can drive new revenue and take back the Internet.

We are committed to the vision that every online retailer and publisher should be able to add user-first ad revenue streams and take back the Internet from Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Customers like Ticketmaster, Yelp, Strava, Mozilla, and many more have already launched successful ad platforms on Kevel.

Download ad policy template

Sarah Wheeler
Sarah Wheeler

Sarah is an experienced writer with a software background, allowing her to translate between ad tech experts and lay readers. As Kevel's content writer, she writes for the blog and social media.