Advertising a Tank Using Google AdWords?

Let’s say you have a tank.  How would or could you advertise it on Google AdWords?

I’m not surprised if you’ve not got a clue but in the interest of exploring the depths of product and service eligibility with AdWords, I’ve decided to go through the hypothetical motions to shed some light on this burning question.

Any business should have invested some time into thinking about their market and how they fit into it… that’s the idea anyway. But before we start talking about policy,  it seems quite prudent to promote the value in reviewing your overall business and its environment. From my experience, many advertising policy issues actually mirror environmental/social/legal issues that can cripple any unaware business venture.

Business Mugshot

If you’ve not already heard about Attacat ‘The Business Mugshot‘ then I would recommend commandeering this free tool before you even start to think about marketing! The tool’s simplicity not only hides a very effective process to understanding how to make your business unique, but also shows what potential issues you may encounter. So now that I’ve done the shameless self promotion, it’s time to move on to more pressing matters….tanks & AdWords policy!

AdWords Policy

As mentioned, I want to advertise my beautiful collection of decommissioned tanks as I’ve suddenly become fond of zombie swords and need to clear some space, it happens.  I’ve ran through the business mugshot and highlighted my unique value proposition (basically identifying your unique value and communicating it effectively) as  ‘UK’s number one supplier of NATO tanks’. I’ve also identified potential issues in this and how they might impact my business so I’m focused on a really unique, alternative and safe mode of transport for anyone with more money than sense.

The AdWords policy section is often overlooked and from my experience can be a bit thorny to navigate.  Because rules are often never black and white, it’s not unusual to find yourself in murky waters when it comes to specific areas of policy. So with that in mind, I would recommend hitting the policy section of AdWords and trying to understand exactly where the issues might arise (and how to deal with them). In this scenario, it’s likely going to be issues related to ‘Weapons’ as many second-hand tanks may have working gun parts, hidden ammunition, and potentially other nasty surprises.  It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure.

Following the policy guidelines, there’s lots of sections in weapons that will need addressed e.g. Ammunition, Guns and Gun Parts. From my review, I have a good idea of what not to advertise but a call to the AdWords team is recommended for piece of mind.  From my chat with AdWords support, I was advised that Google would need to see a landing page but based on my vague hypothetical situation they wouldn’t allow us to advertise the tank as it still has a weapon… dang.


At this stage we could give up in all honesty, but that wouldn’t be very interesting would it?! So how could we overcome this roadblock and get our lovely tanks showing on the paid search results?  Well here’s two potential areas to address:

  • Gun parts or hardware –  This will likely be a key element to our disapproval. We’ll really need to ensure that all gun parts are removed from the tank – cannon, machine gun and grenade launchers – and replaced with certified, non-working, replica guns. 
  • Ammunition –  As previously mentioned, Ammo can be hidden in tanks so again we’ll need to communicate that our tanks contain no ammunition and are not violating any UK laws or AdWords policy.

For both points, it’s likely that we’ll need a 3rd party certificate to state clearly that our tanks have been checked and meet the above criteria (as well as general UK road law requirements).  We would also recommend reviewing the general terms and conditions to ensure there’s no general website violations before we submit our landing page to the AdWords team.  It’s not uncommon to be met with quite vague disapproval reasons, so I would recommend trying to build a relationship with your AdWords contact and sitting down with an AdWords specialist to go through the fine print!

Concluding Thoughts

To be honest, the prospect of trying to invest money into a working landing page and modifying your offering might not sound viable, but in all honesty that wasn’t the goal of this post. The importance of AdWords policy is paramount to many new advertisers and often overlooked.  It’s important to remember that it’s not all doom and gloom if there are some disapproval issues. By understanding and working with the policy of your target country and assuming  your product is actually legal, there’s normally always room for your business to promote itself on AdWords!

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