Dec 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Google to lift post-election political ad ban on Dec. 10

Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

Google informed its advertising partners on Wednesday that beginning Dec. 10, it will lift the post-election political ad ban that went into effect after polls closed on Nov. 3, according to an email obtained by Axios.

The big picture: The lift comes about a month ahead of two crucial Georgia runoff races that will determine control of the Senate.

  • Millions of dollars have been pouring into the Senate runoffs, but most of that money thus far has been channeled into local broadcast ads due to Google and Facebook's extended political ad bans.

Details: Beginning Thursday, Google says it will be lifting its "sensitive event" policy, which it put in place to help prevent misinformation spread via ads that concern sensitive events like elections or public health crises.

  • Once the sensitive event policy is lifted, its systems will again start enabling ads to be purchased across all of its ad-serving platforms (Google Ads, DV360, YouTube, and AdX Authorized Buyer) that fall under the scope of its election ads policy.
  • Google's political ad policies are different from the policies used to enforce rules around most commercial ads in that some audience targeting options are restricted.

Google considers the following ad criteria as "election-related":

  • Mentions current state or federal officeholder, a candidate, political party, or ballot measure
  • Mentions federal or state elections within the ad
  • Based on election-related search queries, including on candidates or officeholders.

Flashback: When the ban was first announced in October, advertisers were told that they should expect the ban to last for at least seven days after Election Day, and that Google would review the situation on a weekly basis if it extends longer.

What's next: While Google says it no longer considers the post-election period to be a sensitive event, it will still "rigorously enforce" its ads policies, "which strictly prohibit demonstrably false information that could significantly undermine trust in elections or the democratic process, among other forms of abuse."

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