YouTube bans politics, gambling & alcohol ads from its masthead slot

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Alphabet Inc’s video streaming platform YouTube will no longer be accepting ads related to alcohol, gambling, politics, or “prescription drug terms” for its masthead ad slot, which is at the top of the site’s and app’s homepage.

In an email to advertisers, YouTube said that the change is based on its move last year to retire from all full-day masthead ads. The video-sharing platform said it has stepped back from these full-day reservations, like the one then-President Donald Trump purchased to dominate its homepage on Election Day 2020, and replaced them with more targeted formats.

The masthead slot is one of the first things users see when they open YouTube, so it’s understandable that keeping ads about drugs, alcohol or gambling out of it would make the platform more inclusive for everyone and away from controversies.

“We regularly review our advertising requirements to ensure they balance the needs of both advertisers and users. 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 said. 

According to YouTube’s ad support page, advertisements in the masthead can “drive massive reach or awareness,” but now that slot will no longer be available to people wanting to advertise in certain spaces. 

Google already provides a way for users to limit the number of alcohol and gambling-related ads they see on YouTube, and in theory, the setting would’ve applied to the masthead ad. Last year the company changed the slot to show targeted ads, rather than ones that had been reserved for an entire day.

Over the past few years, Google has been working to balance its policies to determine what it does and doesn’t show in ads. During the US presidential election and ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration this year, the company paused political ads altogether citing its policy over sensitive events.

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