HFSS Advertising Ban - Amazon are WRONG


#21

Hey I’m running a supplement brands PPC at the moment we’ve tried everything in uploading all the HFSS data - added “not in scope” and all the other HFSS data but still no luck.

Is anyone doing supplements at the moment and worked out how to resolve this?


#22

We also sell supplements with no sugar/salt or fat. All our ads are not approved. Yet amazon allow big brands to advertise foods and snacks that are high in sugar and fat. How does this make sense? anyone heard anything new from amazon?


#23

Try ‘healthy’ and do not fill in the scores below.


#24

same problem here. Selling ground coffee.

Hence, as per Amazon guidelines:
My product is not in the 13 categories in the legislation, do I still need to provide this information?
If your product is not in the 13 categories affected by the legislation but has been listed in any of Amazon’s product types, you are required to provide the HFSS status for your product and should select the “Not in scope” option. No further information is currently required from you.

-> I did what required, and some items are restricted, some other aren’t. Total mess, loss of sales, and money!
-> Contacted S/S yesterday, as of today their reply: We are working on resolving your request.


#25

Hi Waggy
Is this still the case - our ads were disapproved on 9th October with generic replies at the moment from support that advertising is banned in this locale.

I am at the start of the same process as others above where the interpretation of the legislation/guidance is not correct from Amazon - if a customer is searching for the HFSS products then you are allowed to advertise them.

I can also see plenty of other sellers listings showing as sponsored for similar products to those we sell so it’s a little crazy.

I’m very keen to keep communication on this issue amongst as many sellers affected.


#26

After much pushing back to the MD email, here is their final response, even after we pointed out all the facts about the legislation and how they worded their guidance.

Thank you for your patience. See below for resolution.

  • Amazon is enforcing the HFSS legislation.

Under the regulations, products that are high in fat, salt or sugar are not permitted to appear on pages in Amazon’s UK store unless customers specifically search for them, from October 2022. The ban on promotions that restricts value promotions (for example, 50% extra free, or buy one get one free) has been delayed until October 2023.

We require the HFSS status for your products because the Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021 goes into effect in October 2022. We require this information so that we can categorise all the relevant ASINs in our catalogue. If you do not provide us with the requested information, we will assume that your product is “Less healthy” and it will be restricted in line with the regulations.

Restrictions on the placement of less healthy products – a key part of the government’s commitment to reduce obesity – will still come into force in October 2022 as planned. These will mean less healthy products are no longer promoted in key locations, such as checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents.

For more information, see the following:

Food (promotion and placement) regulations: foods high in fat, salt and sugar: https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/help/hub/reference/GHTHAAPYZLHVD6RN

The Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021 implementation guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/restricting-promotions-of-products-high-in-fat-sugar-or-salt-by-location-and-by-volume-price/restricting-promotions-of-products-high-in-fat-sugar-or-salt-by-location-and-by-volume-price-implementation-guidance

Nutrient profiling model: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-nutrient-profiling-model

Doesn’t even mention the word advertising and that’s because it is in a different legislation that’s not in force yet. It really does seem that they have interpreted it incorrectly and now they are just having to stick to what they are saying and hope that nobody challenges them on it…


#27

Could you not just recreate the ads?

I have read from other posts that new ads will be up and running.

It is old ads that are affected and disabled.

I know creating new ads is a hassle, especially if you have years of build-up. But you will at least get some exposure again, and slowly build momentum.


#28

Nope, unfortunately not.

As our products are ‘less healthy’, when you try to add them to an ad group, it comes up with the message “Your ad contains a product or content that is prohibited for advertising.”

We have seen our competitors still advertising on our main keywords, so we asked SS why they were allowed to advertise and we were told it is because their products are marked as ‘not in scope’. So that seller is simply tricking the system and getting away with it.

We could easily change all of our products to ‘not in scope’ and start advertising again, but we would risk having our listings deactivated due to providing inaccurate information … oh wait, that’s exactly what Amazon did with the information they gave us about how HFSS would be implemented and the actual implementation of it as they’re two different things!


#29

Has anyone had any update or joy on Amazon lifting bans?


#30

Not me, we’ve had a £2m+ pa turnover, built up over 8 years, reduced to probably £350k, depending on just how bad the next 4 weeks can be, and we’re expecting the very worst. Pretty much written this off and refocussed elswhere, what else can you do ? Mental well being comes first.


#31

Nope, just seeing more and more sellers/listings changing their HFSS status to ‘not in scope’ or ‘healthy’ or quite clearly ‘less healthy’ products to avoid the restrictions and allow them to advertise.

For those of us submitting truthful information, we’re being doubly punished as we are not allowed to advertise, while our competitors are getting away with it AND we are being pushed down the organic search rankings as those who are advertising are getting more views, sales, conversions etc and so the algorithm pushes them up the organic results.


#32

Its not just the advertising…I’ve never used Amazon Ads, purely relying on organic SEO growth. My sales on Amazon have pretty much been obliterated as selling gift boxes, SEO is absolutely critical. Unless the customer types in the words sweets my products don’t appear, which if you are browsing for say a birthday gift for a 90 year old, very rarely happens. Unfortunately I think Amazon are applying the letter of the law…but unfortunately the law, when applied to online retailers, is far more punitive than for a bricks and mortar store, where I really doubt not having a few sweets at checkout (which most of them stopped years ago anyway) has much of an impact on sales. I’ve written to the department of Health and Social Care and got an underwhelming response…we can’t answer your queries but we have logged our concerns. I’ve also written to my MP to see if he gets a better response. The only way things are going to change is enough businesses complain, so I would recommend any business affected by this legislation contacts their MP as businesses are being ruined and livelyhoods destroyed.


#33

Completely understand where you are coming from, but like you say, in terms of where organic search results can appear of ‘less healthy’ foods, they are in theory just going by the regulations (although we still see many results of sweet and chocolate appearing in search terms for say ‘gifts for men’, but this could be down to the seller saying the product is ‘healthy’ or ‘not in scope’).

Obviously these regulations haven’t just appeared out of nowhere and we had been made well aware by Amazon that this was coming, so we made sure all of our advertising was aimed at the specific search terms so they would still appear and it helped push us up the organic results for the specified search terms for our products. But in terms of the advertising, they did not say that they were going above and beyond the regulations and banning advertising before that part of the regulation comes into effect (but even then, only for businesses of 50 or more employees).

They’re the world’s biggest retailer, with the worlds biggest cloud computing company as a part of it (AWS) - it’s reasonable to think that between all of their legal teams and software developers etc, they could read the regulations correctly and had more than enough time to come up with a properly functioning system.


#34

Okay, ,this probably isn’t going to be popular in this thread but I’m going to say it anyway. The Government wants people eating less sweet. sugary. fatty. salty ‘unhealthy’ products. You are saying your sales are down - this means the government is achieving its aim. It isn’t trying to keep your business running, it is trying to reduce the amount of the type of goods you sell being sold.

I think you need to look at your business in a different way - the Government is trying to enact - through legislation - a change in peoples eating behaviour. they are doing this by restricting advertising which means the goal is to sell less of the products. If you are still in the business of selling these goods, I think you should rethink your market in the current environment and ask yourself whether trying to compete in what will be a tougher, smaller market is viable.

It is hard if you’ve built a business on the basis of what was, until now, a perfectly reasonable assumption, but I would advise taking a good - hard look at where legislation and the Government are going and asking yourself if you want to fight it.

I really sympathise here, and I don’t want this to seem like I’m jumping on and bashing anyone, but talk of complaining to your MPs and such about reduced sales is just telling them that what they are doing is working. They want reduced sales, they want lower sales of these types of products so if you are selling these, you are going to have to accept that the market is being challenged to shrink and that there will be losers.

Not that is all about actual HFSS products, lumping in and supressing products that are genuinely not HFSS is clearly wrong and unfair…


#35

I don’t actually have an issue with the purpose of the legislation, and generally think it is a good idea in principle. My issues are

  1. The legislation specifically states it only applies to businesses with over 200 employees…not me.
  2. The inconsistencies between online/high street vendors. If you go into a supermarket (who the legislation was really targeting) you will still find displays of quality street tins in prime locations piled up to the ceiling, you will still find sweets/chocolates in the Christmas aisle, you will still see shelves of mince pies right by the door, and don’t get me started on booze, which is far more harmful than a few chocolate bars. My products are effectively invisible.

#36

Yes, but I think you have to accept that by selling on Amazon your exposure and opportunity is far greater than it would naturally be. Just like other legislation that covers online marketplaces it is inevitable that Amazon would be considered a single - large ecosystem.

That I agree with completely.


#37

As a seller of sweets & chocolate, I completely agree with you. In supermarkets etc, they shouldn’t be there as you walk in, whilst you’re waiting and so forth which encourages the purchase of the item when perhaps you weren’t going to. And online, when you’re searching for a ‘gift for men’, encouraging less healthy eating is not the best thing. That is all fair enough and like I say, we saw this coming when the regulations were first announced and from Amazon’s guidance emails about how they were going to be applying the regs.

Our real concern with all this is that we can’t even advertise on those search terms where people have specifically searched for our type of product, which is still allowed as per the regs.

The real kicker with all of this is that while we can’t advertise our own products to customers specifically searching for them on Amazon, Amazon themselves are showing ads of ours and other HFSS foods to people on Facebook, Instagram etc!!! How can that be right?!?


#38

I did post on another thread but can’t find it
The reason why the legislation is in effect here on amazon is because technically amazon is showing the advertising and they do have over 200 employees etc
If it were on your own website, the legislation would not affect you


#39

I am aware of this- my issue isn’t with Amazon, its with the legislation passed by our so called government.


#40

Ah sorry I thought you said in your previous post that you agreed with the legislation but not amazon