YouTube disallows gambling, alcohol, political ads on ‘most prominent’ slot

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YouTube has announced it will stop accepting ads from verticals like gambling, alcohol , prescription drugs, and election and political campaigns on its highly coveted masthead, as reported first by Axios.

As per YouTube’s masthead rule, it is ideal for people who want to “drive massive reach and awareness, plan their buys in advance and don’t want to rely on  auction, show off their brand or service in a prominent space in the YouTube home feed”.

Gambling, alcohol, politics, or “prescription drug terms” have now been added to the “prohibited” categories. YouTube has also explained the list of items that fall under these categories. The platform will now prohibit “assets that depict reference gambling-related content, including offline gambling, online gambling, online non-casino games and social casino games.”

Instead of allowing a brand to dominate the masthead for a 24-hour period, YouTube has altered the norms on impression-basis making it difficult for a single advertiser to have a monopoly.

In December 2020 an official Google blogpost revealed, “We’ve heard feedback that some people would prefer to limit ads in certain categories like alcohol, so today, we’re launching a new control in Ad Settings, enabling people to see fewer alcohol ads, with gambling as an additional option.”

At the time, Google had further explained that along with the existing policies, these new rules would regulate when and where gambling and alcohol ads could be shown as per local laws (e.g. age restrictions).

“This new feature is an extra step, putting choice in the user’s hands and enabling you to further control your ad experience. With a click of a button, you can choose to see fewer gambling and alcohol ads. It is also reversible; should you change your mind; you can click to see such ads again. This feature will roll out in Ad Settings gradually, beginning with YouTube Ads in the US, and we aim to introduce this for Google Ads and YouTube globally in early 2021. Countries with legal restrictions against serving gambling and alcohol ads will not see any change in their policies,” the Google blogpost hinted earlier.

The masthead for ads is priced at approximately $2 million a day, as per New York Times. It’s unclear as to how many people view the masthead or see that ad spot on regular basis, but YouTube claims that it has delivered more than a billion hours of video every single day through its masthead.

Google has always endeavored to balance its policies to determine what it does and doesn’t show in ads. Recently they had also clamped down on hate speech used as keywords for political misinformation, and conspiracy theories around COVID-19.