Masthead Ads for Gambling Banned by YouTube

Google continues to define which advertising content is permitted on all its platforms.
Masthead Ads for Gambling Banned by YouTube
By July 19, 2021

Online video platform giant YouTube has announced changes to the advertising rules for the most prominent slot on the website. As of June 14, 2021, the Google-owned platform will no longer allow political or election ads in the coveted masthead. Furthermore, the vital spot at the top of the homepage is no longer permitted to display ads for alcohol, gambling, and prescription drugs from now on.

The ad requirements for the masthead spots on YouTube have already been updated last year when the company retired all full-day ads in the slot. Instead, more targeted formats were implemented. As a result, it is now by far more difficult for a specific advertiser to dominate the overall advertising experience.

These specific content rules may be more restrictive than for other platforms and surfaces of YouTube’s parent company Google, which means content that was deemed non-fitting may still appear on Google’s other owned and operated websites. The aim of the company is ensuring to “provide a high-quality consumer ad experience” for all visitors.

The masthead slot is essentially one of the first things visitors see when they open any videos on the YouTube homepage and can “drive massive reach or awareness”. As such, it comes as no surprise that ads about drugs, alcohol, or gambling are forbidden. Especially the ever-evolving regulation for gambling all over the world may also have played a crucial role in the decision as well.

Four categories have now been officially classified as prohibited. They include gambling, elections and political content, alcohol, and prescription drug terms.

According to the advertising policies help website, “assets that depict or reference gambling-related content, including offline gambling, online gambling, online non-casino games, and social casino games” are now prohibited. While poker is not specifically mentioned by name, it is typically included in the gambling category by default.

This isn’t the first time t*hat gambling-related content on the video platform has been subject to scrutiny* throughout the last few years. Poker content creators have already received strikes for uploaded videos on Youtube and hosted streams on the popular Twitch platform. Most of the cases have been resolved but the advertising of gambling remains a delicate subject.

YouTube has also specified prohibited categories, negative events, and improper content for the entire platform as well. For example, exaggerated or inaccurate claims for a product or to mislead users are not allowed at all.

With their latest crackdown, the company continues the attempt to balance the policies with regards to which content can be displayed in ads. On Election Day 2020 in the United States, then-president Donald Trump reserved a full-day masthead ad but this will also no longer be permitted.

The use of ads containing hate speech as keywords, political misinformation, and conspiracy theories around the COVID-19 pandemic has also been diminished recently as well.

As the primary information source of many users, Google has been facing an antitrust lawsuit by the US Department of Justice for using anticompetitive tactics in the search engine and related advertising business since October 2020. This was first reported by the Washington Post.

The case is still ongoing and may have severe consequences on other tech companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.

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