Google updates political advertisement policy

Google political ads
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Google to limit the targetting of political advertisements to broader factors, instead of granular, on platforms affiliated to the platform.

Given the recent concerns and debates about political advertisements, Google is attempting to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads that are visible on Google’s ad platform. The steps are being taken to promote trust in digital political advertising and the electoral processes worldwide.

Google offers political advertisers with formats such as Search ads that appear in response to a search for a particular topic or candidate, YouTube ads that appear on YouTube videos and generate revenue for creators and Display ads that appear on websites and generate revenue for Google’s publishing partners.

In regards to transparency, Google provides a publicly accessible, searchable, and downloadable transparency report of election ad content and spending on related platforms. “We have never allowed granular microtargeting of political ads on our platforms,” the platform clarifies.

Approach to target ads

Google is limiting election ads audience targeting to general categories like age, gender and general location (postal code level). Political advertisers can continue to do contextual targetting, such as serving ads to people reading or watching a story about a particular topic, say the economy. Google will be enforcing this approach in the UK ahead of the General Elections, in the EU by the end of the year and, in the rest of the world in January 2020.

Also Read: The running a political campaign on social media

Giving due consideration to how robust political dialogue is an important part of a democracy and that no one can sensibly adjudicate ever political claim, counterclaim and insinuation, Google says that it expects to be the number of ads they can take action on will be very limited. However, they hope to continue with the efforts in case of clear violations.

Transparency report

The platform provides both in-ad disclosures and a transparency report that shows the actual content of the ads, who paid for them, how much was spent, how many people saw these ads, and how they were targeted.

“Starting on December 3, 2019, we’re expanding the coverage of our election advertising transparency to include U.S. state-level candidates and officeholders, ballot measures, and ads that mention federal or state political parties, so that all of those ads will now be searchable and viewable as well,” they say.

In the coming months, Google will look at ways to bring additional transparency to the ads they serve. In the social media space, Twitter has put a global ban on political advertisements, Facebook will continue to show such ads and Snapchat has announced that they would be fact-checking the ads they roll out on the platform.


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