Advertising is a meaningful way to promote your product and build a brand.

By advertising your store, you can show your products to people that haven’t seen them before and generate sales.

Some ecommerce businesses, however, are restricted in terms of what advertising method they can use because of the type of products they sell.

If you are a store selling restricted products and you discovered that you can’t advertise on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, then don’t worry.

There are still some other ways to market your store!

In this article, you will learn about four alternative ways that you can use to advertise your restricted products without breaking the rules.

What are restricted products?

First of all, let’s go over the term restricted products.

When we talk about restricted products in this article, we aim at products that a lot of the popular online advertising platforms don’t accept.

Restricted products are often controlled and can only be sold or advertised under certain conditions.

For example, an online smoke shop may have difficulties creating ads on Facebook. That’s because Facebook sees tobacco-related products as restricted products and doesn’t want ads containing those products on their platform.

Example of an online store selling restricted products
Example of an online smoke shop (Source)

Other examples of restricted products may include:

  • Alcohol
  • Medicine
  • CBD products
  • Consumables
  • Adult toys

Lastly, remember that a product may be restricted in one country, while it won’t be restricted in another country.

Which product restrictions do popular online marketing platforms have?

To find out whether or not you can use the popular online marketing methods to advertise your store, you will have to find out if you are selling restricted products.

Each platform has its own rules regarding which products can and can’t be advertised on it.

Usually, the guidelines for a social media advertising platform are pretty tedious to read. So, in the following section, I will try to summarize the product restrictions for a few of the most popular online marketing platforms.

Let’s start with one of the most popular ones, Facebook!

Restricted products on Facebook

Facebook Ads homepage

Facebook Ads are one of the most important digital marketing channels.

Facebook currently has over 2 billion active users. With Facebook Ads, online marketers get the chance to reach all of those people in a highly targeted way, which can provide great results for their business.

However, not all online marketers are able to make use of this awesome opportunity.

Just like other platforms, Facebook Ads has an ad policy in place that prevents some products from being advertised.

Let’s look into them now:

Warning: Since our goal is to summarize Facebook’s ad policy, we won’t cover all the rules in this article. If you are unsure about whether or not you can advertise your product on Facebook, we recommend looking at the complete Facebook ad policy here.

Tobacco and related products

First of all, tobacco and products related to tobacco are not allowed to be promoted on Facebook.

This also includes products like electronic cigarettes, vaporizers, or any other products that simulate smoking.

As I said, the online smoke store that I featured earlier in this article won’t be able to advertise its products on Facebook because of this policy.

Unsafe substances

Any products that are determined by Facebook as “unsafe” may not be promoted on the platform.

These include unsafe nutritional supplements like steroïds and products related to drugs, such as a smoking pipe or CBD products.

For more information about this topic, you can check out this page.

Adult products

Facebook ads may not promote the use of adult products.

Ads that are promoting sexual and reproductive health products, such as contraception, must be targeted to people aged 18 or older and must not focus on sexual pleasure.

Copyrights

Copyrighted products are products that have been copied from a brand. Examples are (copied) Nike shoes, Fortnite caps, motorsport phone cases, or designer bags.

Examples of counterfeit or copyright products sold on AliExpress
Examples of counterfeit or copyright products sold on AliExpress

In my opinion, you should avoid selling these kinds of products.

Besides not being to advertise them on popular social media platforms, you can get into legal trouble if companies find out you have been selling their copyrighted items without their consent. (You can learn more about that here)

Personal health

Ads on Facebook are not allowed to contain so-called “before-and-after” images.

Also, ads can’t contain images with unexpected or unlikely results. They are not allowed to generate negative self-perception in order to promote diet, weight loss, or other health-related products.

Alcohol

Ads that promote alcohol must comply with the applicable local laws at all times.

In some countries, such as Egypt, Norway, and Turkey, ads promoting or referencing alcohol are prohibited.

Cryptocurrency products

Ads on Facebook cannot promote products related to cryptocurrency without prior written permission.

You can find details on the requirements of the permission here.

Cosmetic procedures and wellness

Any ads promoting weight loss products must always be targeted to people aged 18 or older. This is also true for dietary, health, or herbal supplements.

Restricted products on Instagram

Instagram Ads homepage

Besides Facebook, Instagram has grown to become one of the most popular social media marketing channels.

When used correctly, Instagram is one of the most powerful tools for ecommerce stores to sell products and engage with followers.

Besides running Instagram ads on the platform, there are so many more reasons to use Instagram for your ecommerce store!

Instagram is a place where you can showcase your products and communicate the story behind your brand. In other words, it’s an excellent way to show your customers what life is like with your products!

Since creating and managing Instagram ads is done through the same platform (Facebook’s Ads Manager) as Facebook ads, Instagram has the same ad policy as Facebook.

This means that all of the products I showcased above that can’t be advertised on Facebook also can’t be advertised on Instagram.

Keep this in mind when planning to advertise on Instagram!

Restricted products on Google Ads

Google advertisements homepage

The biggest advertisement platform working with Pay Per Click (PPC) Ads is Google, and you have almost certainly heard of it before.

When advertising your product with Google Ads (previously known as Google Adwords), you pay Google to get your website listed among the top of search results.

The main benefit of using Google Ads is that you are able to target people who are already interested in buying a product similar to the one you are selling.

For example, if you are running a store selling posture correctors, you can create a Google Ad and target people searching for the keyword “posture corrector”.

Google advertisement example

However, not all ecommerce stores will be able to create Google Ads for their products. Just like Facebook, Google restricts some products from their ad platform.

So, which products are restricted on Google Ads?

Note: To learn about all details considering what is and isn’t allowed to be advertised using Google Ads, visit the Google Ads policy here.

Dangerous products

First of all, Google wants to help keep people safe. This is why they don’t allow any products that can cause damage, harm, or injury to be promoted.

Examples of dangerous products include:

  • Recreational drugs (chemical or herbal)
  • Psychoactive substances
  • Equipment to facilitate drug use
  • Tobacco products

Adult toys

Just like Facebook, Google doesn’t allow sexual products like adult toys to be advertised on the platform.

Alcohol

Due to local alcohol laws and industry standards, Google doesn’t allow certain kinds of alcohol-related advertising, both for alcohol and drinks that resemble alcohol.

This means that beverages like non-alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic wine are also restricted.

What kind of stores need alternative advertising methods? (Examples)

Now that you know all about the advertisement policies of Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and Google Ads, let’s think about which kinds of online stores would experience a restricted advertising experience because of these policies.

One example of an ecommerce store that would be restricted advertising their products to these platforms is the store example I gave already: an online smoke shop.

A store in this niche is likely to sell a lot of products related to smoking and/or tobacco, so it will be restricted on all three platforms.

Examples of products sold by an online smoke shop
Examples of products sold by an online smoke shop (Source)

Another type of ecommerce store that may experience restrictions is a store selling alcoholic beverages.

For example, if you are working on creating your own brand of beers or liquors, you may have a hard time promoting your brand on these popular online marketing platforms!

4 Alternative ways to advertise restricted products

If you run a store selling restricted products, you may be in need of some alternative advertising methods to get your product in front of your audience.

Luckily, there are some advertising methods out there that aren’t as strict when it comes to promoting restricted products.

In the next section, you will learn about four alternative advertising methods which you can use to promote your store and products!

1. Snapchat

Snapchat homepage

Let’s start with the first alternative advertising method, Snapchat.

Snapchat is a platform where you can send pictures, videos, and messages that are only available for a short period of time. After that time has passed, they disappear and are no longer available to view.

You can use the platform to promote your products using (paid) Snap Ads, which are vertical, full-screen, mobile video ads that are three to ten seconds long.

While it’s not possible to advertise all products on the platform, certain products and services that aren’t allowed elsewhere are allowed to be promoted on Snapchat under certain conditions.

For example, alcohol may be promoted on Snapchat if it meets a number of requirements, some of which include that it must not:

  • Target or be likely to appeal particularly to people under the legal drinking age in the territory where the ad will run
  • Encourage or depict excessive or irresponsible consumption of alcohol
  • Glamorize alcohol, or otherwise misrepresent the effects of consuming alcohol

Furthermore, all ads promoting alcohol must display mandatory warning labels such as “please drink responsibly”.

Snapchat's ad policy regarding the promotion of alcohol
Snapchat’s ad policy regarding the promotion of alcohol (Source)

Snapchat also allows the promotion of some services which are often prohibited.

For example, dating services may be promoted on Snapchat under a number of conditions.

If you are interested in finding out whether or not your product can be advertised on Snapchat, you can read Snapchat’s ad policy here.

2. Reddit

Reddit homepage

Next up is a platform called Reddit.

You have probably heard of Reddit before, but in case you haven’t, it’s called the “front page of the internet.” Reddit says it gives you the best of the internet in one place.

It’s a constantly updating feed of breaking news, fun stories, pics, memes, and videos.

Advertising on Reddit can be done in two ways.

First of all, you can start posting content of your brand and products in relevant subreddits, which are basically online forums about a specific topic.

For example, if you are a company selling liquids for e-cigarettes, you can let people know you are out there and creating new flavors in a subreddit like “e-cigs” (which has over 200k members!)

Subreddit about electronic cigarettes and vaping

Maybe, you manage to find a few active members within the subreddits and send them a few of your liquids to get their feedback and review.

Try to be straightforward and say something like, “Hey, we are a manufacturer in Los Angeles. In the coming days, we are releasing a few new liquids, and we would love it if you were able to try them and give us your thoughts.”

Don’t worry about people saying no. I mean, what individual passionate about e-cigarettes would say no to some free flavors?

Once they have tried it, most people will give a public review of your product and may convince more people to try your products!

The second way of promoting your product on Reddit is using Reddit Ads.

Just like Facebook and Instagram, Reddit works with a system that allows you to place paid ads on the platform.

Reddit advertisements homepage

Luckily, Reddit’s ad policy isn’t as strict as Facebook’s.

For example, advertising of alcohol and alcohol-related products is permitted on Reddit:

Reddit's ad policy about alcohol
Reddit’s ad policy (Source)

For more information about restricted products on Reddit, you can visit their advertisement policy here!

3. Facebook Groups

Facebook group for ecommerce tips and tricks
Looking for daily ecommerce tips & tricks? Click here to join this awesome community!

Another alternative advertising method that’s actually similar to using subreddits on Reddit is using Facebook Groups.

Facebook Groups are communities of people that share images, videos, and other content about a topic with each other.

Above, you will see the banner of our blog’s own Facebook Group, Do Courseless Dropshipping!

If you are selling restricted products, you may be able to use Facebook Groups to get them in front of your audience.

For example, if you are running an online smoke shop, you may be able to use vaping Facebook Groups to promote your products, similar to the method of using subreddits I explained earlier.

Example of a vaping Facebook Group
Example of a vaping Facebook Group (Source)

Being active in several Facebook Groups surrounding your niche will definitely help you network and get your product out there!

4. SEO

Example of an online smoke shop's blog
Example of an online smoke shop’s blog (Source)

The final alternative advertising method we will talk about will be SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) covers all methods and strategies aiming to get your website to that magical number one spot on Google:

Number one spot in Google search results

SEO is a huge topic, so it’s pretty much impossible to cover everything here.

However, I will do my best to give you a summary of some strategies you can use and to add links to some great articles where you will be able to learn much more about certain topics.

One of the best and most popular ways to start with SEO is beginning a blog for your ecommerce store, just like the online smoke shop did in the image above!

By doing this, you will not only improve your store’s SEO, but you will also get free traffic and show your audience that you have a lot of knowledge about your products!

Interested in learning more about creating a blog for your ecommerce store? If so, check out this amazing video by Neil Patel:

Another method you can use to rank higher in search engines and make it easier for people to find you, is optimizing your store.

Google scans a lot of elements on your store and partly determines your search ranking based on it. Therefore, there are many things you can double-check to make sure you don’t get any penalties. We suggest reading this SEO checklist created by Shopify to learn about the most important things!

Lastly, here is an article of ours covering seven ways to increase your traffic using SEO!

Conclusion

Selling products online related to alcohol, smoking, or adult toys may be pretty challenging since a lot of popular advertising platforms will have restrictions in place for them.

Luckily, alternative advertising methods exist that allow you to get your products in front of your audience nonetheless.

I hope this article helped you in finding new ways to advertise your products.

If you have any questions regarding promoting restricted products, don’t hesitate to contact us by leaving a comment below!

Good luck with finding an advertisement method that fits with you and your store!

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Author

Hey! My name is Patryk and I've been dropshipping for 2+ years now! After being exposed all the time to dropship "gurus" trying to sell their courses and learning from my mistakes, I decided to help build Do Dropshipping and make all information you need to succeed in dropshipping available for free to everyone!

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