Finding Disapproved Ads and Fixing Them in Bulk in Google AdWords

Imagine you’re in charge of managing an AdWords account and you get one of those dreaded emails about disapproved ads.

Now imagine it’s not just an old paused ad group that got randomly reviewed, but it’s hundreds or thousands of ads.

A colleague recently had this very problem during a new product launch and I was surprised at how difficult it was to effectively handle this at scale. So here is your cheat sheet if you find yourself in such a scenario.

Finding Disapproved Ads in AdWords

To find your disapproved ads you first navigate to the desired location in the interface. That could be the entire account or a specific campaign/ad group.

Once there navigate to the Ads tab and then we’ll need to enable a filter. What we want to look at is “Approval status” and then make sure that “Disapproved” is the only box checked:

Now your view should be full of disapproved ads, but to see the reason you need to mouse over the dialogue box. That works okay for one or two ads, but we need to handle lots of disapproved ads.

Here comes the next trick.

Making Ad Disapproval Reasons Visible

In order to get the specific policy violation listed in the viewable table, we need to add a very specific column called “Policy details”. Click on the “Columns” button and select “Customize columns”.

You’ll see this view:

In the “Attributes” section click on the “Policy details” column and arrange it according to your tastes. With this column selected you can now see the specific policy that each ad is violating:

As you can see above, issues range from capitalization to 404 pages. With this information, we can start to deal with them in bulk.

Fixing Disapproved Ads in Bulk

There are a couple of different ways to approach this, so I’ll explain each briefly. The number of screenshots to illustrate each in depth would make for a huge post, so feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @robert_brady if you have questions, but here is the idea:

AdWords Interface

Believe it or not, the interface has find/replace functionality. You can select a bunch of ads and then click “Edit”, select “Change ads” and then use “Find and replace”. This will work great for destination URLs that need updated or mass typos that might have been made during an upload (guilty as charged, in the past of course).

AdWords Editor

Basically, you do the same thing as above, but in AdWords Editor where you can more easily edit multiple ads at the same time.

Microsoft Excel

If you’re a hard-core Excel person then you can download a spreadsheet of the affected ads from either the interface (once you’ve selected all the ads, click “Edit” again and notice the option to “Download spreadsheet”) or from AdWords Editor (where you can actually select all the ads and copy/paste them into an Excel sheet).


Hopefully, you never need this help because you don’t have a ton of disapproved ads at the same time, but if you do, then this should help save you a good amount of time.

What tips do you have for updating ad disapprovals in bulk? We’d love to hear you tips in the comments!