Google Updates Its Political Ads Policy

Nov 20
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A lot of politicians in the current year rely on digital media platforms such as Google and Twitter for advertisement. Google is now updating its political ads policy, shortly after Twitter banned all such advertisements on its platform. The company says that these changes will help promote confidence in digital political advertising and trust in electoral processes worldwide.

Currently, political ads are available in three formats; search ads (which appear on Google in response to a search for a particular topic or candidate), YouTube ads (which appear on YouTube videos,) and display ads (which appear on websites.) Google also provides a publicly accessible, searchable, and downloadable transparency report of election ad content and spending on its platform. According to its latest blog post:

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Given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters' confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms. So we’re making a few changes to how we handle political ads on our platforms globally.

Google claims that it never offered granular microtargeting of election ads and to further double down on that assertion, the company is limiting election ads audience targeting to the following general categories: age, gender, and general location based on postcode. Political advertisers can continue to do contextual targeting, such as serving ads to people reading or watching a story about specific topics. Google says that this will bring their election ads on par with the standards practiced in media such as TV, radio, and print.

Google is further clarifying its ads policies to explicitly point out things such as deep fakes misleading claims about the census process, and ads or destinations making false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process. Google further adds that the number of political ads on which it will take action against will be very limited, given that, 'no one can sensibly adjudicate every political claim, counterclaim, and insinuation.'

Starting on December 3, 2019, Google's election advertising transparency will include U.S. state-level candidates and officeholders, ballot measures, and ads that mention federal or state political parties. The new rules will be in effect in the U.K. a week ahead of the General Election, and in the EU by the end of the year, and in the rest of the world starting on January 6, 2020.

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