YouTube will stop accepting ads for its masthead ad unit from certain verticals, including alcohol sales, gambling, prescription drugs, and election and political ads, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: YouTube’s masthead, a highly visible rectangle across the top of the homepage, is often the platform’s most expensive and sought-after ad unit.
Details: Beginning Tuesday, ads that feature any gambling-related content offline or online, including sports betting and casino games, will be banned.
- The ban will also apply to ads that promote the sale of alcohol, as well as branding ads for alcoholic beverages that don’t explicitly reference sales.
- Ads that are endorsing a candidate for office will be banned. Ads that are political in nature, like issue ads, will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Be smart: Masthead takeovers are enticing opportunities for advertisers looking to make a splash ahead of an important marketing event, but are more frequently scrutinized than regular banner ads because they are so visible.
- Last year, YouTube said it would discontinue full-day masthead reservations and replace them with more targeted ads that are bought on a per-impression basis, making it harder for any one advertiser to own YouTube’s homepage.
- Other top publishers have received criticism for hosting political ads on their homepage, including the Washington Post.
What they’re saying: “We believe this update will build on changes we made last year to the masthead reservation process and will lead to a better experience for users,” a Google spokesperson told Axios.
The big picture: Google has been modifying its ad policies for years as it’s sought to minimize confusion, misinformation and manipulation, especially surrounding sensitive events.
- Nov. 20, 2019: Google changes political ad policy to limit targeting
- April 2, 2020: Google to lift advertising ban on coronavirus topics
- July 31, 2020: Google cracks down on deceptive ads ahead of election
- Sept. 25, 2020: Google to block election ads after Election Day
- Nov. 2, 2020: YouTube ends full-day ‘masthead’ reservations (CNBC)
- Nov. 11, 2020: Facebook and Google extend political ad ban
- Dec. 9, 2020: Google to lift post-election political ad ban
- Jan. 13, 2021: Google pausing all political ads following Capitol siege
- Feb. 22, 2021: Google to lift political ad ban put in place following Capitol siege
- April 20, 2021: Google launches new certification for U.S. health insurance