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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.

Go deeper

Senate eyes tech firms' data troves

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Lawmakers mulling how to tighten antitrust laws' reins over online platforms will grill Google and Facebook Tuesday about a key asset in the digital age: data.

Why it matters: The intersection of data collection and competition policy is a particularly vulnerable point for the tech giants, whose power comes from amassing troves of information about users.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 21, 2021 - Technology

Google-backed report hits Microsoft dominance

Photo: Halil Sagirkaya / Anadolu Agency

Microsoft's 85% share of the productivity business within the U.S. government market is part of a harmful "monoculture" that stifles innovation, according to a new report commissioned by Google and the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

Between the lines: The report is the latest example of Google and Microsoft going after one another since the companies scrapped a pact to avoid direct attacks.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
48 mins ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

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