Google has announced an update to its policy on inappropriate content for advertisements, aiming to better address ads running during or about sensitive world events.
The new policy will go into effect in February 2024 and more clearly define what constitutes a “sensitive event” for purposes of prohibiting certain exploitative or insensitive ads.
Defining Sensitive Events
As per the updated policy, a sensitive event is defined as an unforeseen or unexpected situation that poses a significant risk to Google’s ability to provide high-quality, relevant information while reducing insensitive content in prominent and monetized features.
Sensitive events include those with major social, cultural, or political impact such as civil emergencies, natural disasters, public health crises, terrorism, conflict, or mass violence.
During such events, Google may take actions to address risks around misinformation, fraud, price gouging, and other predatory practices.
Prohibited Exploitative Practices
The updated policy provides the following examples of prohibited ads:
- Price Gouging: Ads for products or services that artificially inflate prices during crises, or prohibit access to vital supplies.
- Misdirected Traffic: Advertisers are prohibited from using keywords related to a sensitive event to drive additional, unrelated traffic to their content.
- Victim Blaming: Ads claiming certain victims are undeserving of support will be banned.
Google’s Commitment To Responsible Advertising
Google’s update to its inappropriate content policy for ads aims to strike a balance during major world events.
On one hand, the company seeks to provide access to timely information and maintain revenue streams that support online content and services. However, Google faces rising demands to limit misinformation and exploitation on its advertising platforms.
The expanded restrictions around sensitive events show Google’s continued efforts to address these issues.
For advertisers and publishers, the changing policies require close attention to stay compliant. And for users, it remains to be seen how effectively the rules curb harmful ads in the moments that matter most.
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