Jun 14, 2021 - Technology

Scoop: YouTube to ban some ad verticals from buying masthead ads

Photo Illustration: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

YouTube will stop accepting ads for its masthead ad unit from certain verticals, including alcohol sales, gambling, prescription drugs, and election and political ads, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: YouTube's masthead, a highly visible rectangle across the top of the homepage, is often the platform's most expensive and sought-after ad unit.

Details: Beginning Monday, ads that feature any gambling-related content offline or online, including sports betting and casino games, will be banned.

  • The ban will also apply to ads that promote the sale of alcohol, as well as branding ads for alcoholic beverages that don't explicitly reference sales.
  • Ads that are endorsing a candidate for office will be banned. Ads that are political in nature, like issue ads, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Be smart: Masthead takeovers are enticing opportunities for advertisers looking to make a splash ahead of an important marketing event, but they are more frequently scrutinized than regular banner ads because they are so visible.

  • Last year, YouTube said it would discontinue full-day masthead reservations and replace them with more targeted ads that are bought on a per-impression basis, making it harder for any one advertiser to own YouTube's homepage.
  • Other top publishers have received criticism for hosting political ads on their homepage, including the Washington Post.

What they're saying: "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 told Axios.

The big picture: Google has been modifying its ad policies for years as it's sought to minimize confusion, misinformation and manipulation, especially surrounding sensitive events.

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