YouTube TrueView Ad Policy: 7 reasons your music video may get disapproved

So you want to drive video views on your music video? Google’s TrueView InStream and Discovery ad formats are the best way to achieve this goal cost-efficiently and directly on YouTube’s platform. 

The first step to launching your YouTube TrueView campaign is to make your video available. A music video must be public or unlisted in order to submit to Google’s Ad Policy team for review. If your video is private or scheduled for a premiere date in the future, it cannot be submitted for approval.

YouTube TrueView Ad Policy

Now approved or not approved, that is the question. We’ve compiled a list of the 7 most popular reasons music videos get disapproved and paired these with iconic 90s videos to showcase the offenses. While these videos will go down in greatness history, they’d likely be disapproved in today’s TrueView landscape, with content control and safety precautions at the forefront of advertising discussions. 

Constant disapprovals on your music videos might have you saying “You’re killin’ me, Smalls.” Let this list be your go-to reference for meeting TrueView Ad Policy. 

7 reasons your music video may get disapproved:

1. Sexually explicit content:

If your video contains suggestive dancing, steamy bedroom scenes, or excessive skin, it’s likely Google will disapprove your advertising efforts due to their adult content policy. 

TLC’s “No Scrubs” from 1999 would likely face some push back from Google’s policy team if it were advertised today. The suggestive dance moves and hand motions would be flagged as adult content. According to Google, “a scrub is an ad that can’t get no views from me.” 

2. Cartoons with adult themes:

You can’t fool Google. If your video depicts adult themes as cartoons, you’ll likely be disapproved for video advertising. This includes videos that showcase animated sex, cartoon substances, or colorful violence…even fake blood. If you’ve created your video to appear safe for a general audience, it needs to be safe for a general audience.

Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” from 1997 is a perfect example of a cartoon video with adult themes. Within the first couple scenes we see exposed body parts and a floating separated limb. Google definitely couldn’t serve this ad, even if the cartoon style suggests it could be appropriate for families.

3. Blurred or censored content:

Adding a blur or strategically covering an artist’s body parts can raise some review flags when it comes to TrueView. Google considers representations of people that display sexual body parts as adult content.  

Think of blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?,” the 1999 classic featuring the three band members running naked down the street. Although they’re completely blurred, or covered by their instruments, Google still wouldn’t like this video. Nobody likes you when you’re 23, or in this case, Google doesn’t like you when you’re naked.

4. Profane language:

TrueView is a great way to get your a** in front of a big audience. I said ads, get your mind out of the gutter. Profane language is a surefire way to get your music video disapproved by Google. 

Eminem tends to have a bit of a pottymouth in his songs and his popular video for “My Name Is” is no exception. 

5. Physical violence:

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not fight in your TrueView ads. Physical violence is an automatic no, as it’s against Google’s shocking content policy. Anything that includes guns, knives, or other weapons will land a disapproval as well.

Foo Fighters’ 1997 music video for  “Everlong” would be disapproved today. If you have fight scenes laced throughout your music video, you’re better off tapping out before submitting for review.

6. Bodily fluids:

If your video isn’t safe for the squeamish, odds are it’s not safe for YouTube either. Any content containing blood, vomit, or any other *ahem* excretions likely won’t be getting through the review process. 

‘Geek Stink Breath’ by Green Day is working overtime breaking these rules as the video cuts in and out of footage of them pulling out some guy’s tooth. Y’all nasty.

7. Substances or substance abuse:

Snoop Dogg once said “The more medicated, the more dedicated” but our friends on the Google Policy Team would likely not agree. If your music video contains alcohol, drugs, or other substances, don’t expect it to get through the approval process unscathed. 

I think it’s safe to say that most of the content that our friend Snoop puts out nowadays would be flagged by Google, but the 1995 Grammy-nominated song “Gin & Juice” video showing alcohol and marijuana substances is likely to raise some red flags too. 

We totally think this list is all that and a bag of chips, but of course it’s not exhaustive. You can check out Google’s full video policy here.

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