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AdWords Ad Status: Under Review and DKI

I’ve recently been having problems with ad status in AdWords. Typically when you put in a new ad, it goes into “Pending review” status, then shortly after becomes approved. When an ad is pending review, it is displayed on Google, but it is not yet eligible to show up on search partners or the content network. For a regular campaign that is not opted into the Content Network, or is only in the Google Network, I don’t consider it a big deal when an ad is “pending review.” Usually ads move out of this status fairly quickly. But occasionally an ad goes into “under review” status (notice the difference here “under review,” not “pending review”).   I’m not sure what triggers an ad to go into “under review,” but it is much worse than “pending review” and of course “approved.”   When an ad is “under review” it is not eligible to show anywhere.   And an ad can stay “under review” for quite awhile . . . maybe a week. The best way to avoid any of these intermediate ad statuses is to keep already approved ads running and then put in additional ads.   Deleting or pausing the old ads after the new ads have gotten into “approved” status.   Of course this isn’t always possible; you might not have any already existing ads, or you might notice that the old ads are no longer accurate and have to be deleted.

When I was editing my ads in the AdWords Editor, I deleted the old ones because they were for an older product. I wasn’t thinking that the new ads might go into review, and it was actually pretty important that they get approved quickly because they were advertising a new deal that was available only for a limited time. When I posted the ads and noticed they went “under review,” I tried a couple of things to get around it that didn’t work:

1. Add another ad that uses different language and a different landing page, avoiding things that might need a human person to verify, like discounts and downloading.

2. Add a new ad group with ads that use different language and a different landing page, and the same kind of keyword list.

This has worked for me before, but this time it didn’t. So I was in trouble. I didn’t have ads circulating for some important keywords anymore. To successfully get around this, I:

1. Added keywords to an existing ad group that already had approved ads. The existing ad group closely matched the theme of the defunct ad group, so it worked out OK.

2. Wrote a note to our Googler reps to expedite the review process. You don’t need Googlers assigned to your account to do this. If you’re just a regular AdWords management person, you can log in to your AdWords account and go here to request that they speed things up:


Once my ads were approved, I deleted the relevant keywords out of the ad group I was using as a work-around and celebrated. In the end, it took a few business days for everything to get to where it should be. If I had to guess why the ads went under review, I’d say it might be because the ads were using keywords that Google wanted to validate trademark or copyright issues for – but this is just a guess.

Same Account, More Problems: Dynamic Keyword Insertion

In this very same account I’ve noticed other problems with ads that information isn’t really available for around the internet. Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) wasn’t working correctly in my ad groups. Some people aren’t aware of this, but you can control the capitalization of your keywords in your inserted text. For example, in the past, when you wrote this in your ad:

{KEYWORD:Default Text}

Any keywords that were inserted in place of your default keyword phrase would be in all caps. I don’t know how recently this change was made but that version of DKI no longer does this. It causes text to be capitalized just as if you had written:

{KeyWord:Default Text}

I actually had a valid use-case for the all caps DKI, but it looks like Google decided it isn’t worth it to allow that kind of function anymore. This could cause problems for accounts that have multi-worded product numbers or names that have acronyms or generally capitalized letters.

Besides the no longer available {KEYWORD:}, I also noticed that some of my ad groups weren’t inserting keywords when they should have. I stumbled upon this revelation when I was using the Google Ad Preview Tool to check that ads were getting triggered by the phrases that I was finding a work-around for. It appears the terms in some of my ad groups were rejected for use in ads with dynamic keyword insertion. I’m in the progress of having this mystery investigated still.

Under Review and DKI – Just A Couple Problems

I’ve actually had more problems than this with my ads in the AdWords system, concerning status and trademarks. For the first time ever, I got introduced to the Approved (limited) ad status because of a bug on Google’s end. So there are actually quite a bit of things that can go wrong when you’re undergoing the very simple task of putting an ad into an ad group. Problems with ads going Under Review and ads not using Dynamic Keyword Insertion properly are just a couple common ones from a larger list. Besides this blog, the AdWords Help Forum is a great place to find people having problems and finding solutions.

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About Steve Loszewski

Steve Loszewski leads the paid search team at Pure Visibility. He is individually qualified in AdWords, has the Google Analytics Individual Qualification, is an Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Associate, and is a Sun Certified Programmer for the Java Platform SE 6. Steve has been managing AdWords accounts since 2005 and also has experience in SEO. Most of his time is spent in the trenches, working with keywords, ads, bids, landing pages, placements, etc within the AdWords Interface. You can find him on Google+.

3 Responses to "AdWords Ad Status: Under Review and DKI"

  • Susan
    April 12, 2010 - 2:40 pm Reply

    very good information. Thank you much

  • Steve Loszewski
    Steve Loszewski
    September 15, 2010 - 1:51 pm Reply

    Pending Review ads as far as I can tell, also never show in the top, highlighted results on Google. This can be quite a handicap if your ads tend to go in “pending review” status. If you have an important new product or just an important product period, and you put in new ads, they might go in pending review and you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot if it’s important to show up at the top of Google.

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