Google’s Personalized Ad Policy Update

Collective Measures
October 14, 2020
Starting on October 19th, Google will be updating its Personalized Ads policies to introduce new targeting restrictions for some ad content. The goal of this targeting update is to be more inclusive of users who may be affected by societal bias.

Google Announces Changes to Ad Policy

It’s been a year filled with heightened privacy concerns and social justice reform. As the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) continues to change the way data is mined, people are concerned more than ever about where their data is being used, and how exactly they are being retargeted. Add to it that 2020 has seen the largest social reform movement in decades, which means that public opinion has, in many ways, influenced companies such as Google to make changes that reflect the outcry for equality.

Starting on October 19, Google will be updating its Personalized Ads policies to introduce new targeting restrictions for some ad content. The goal of this targeting update is to be more inclusive of users who may be affected by societal bias. As a secondary layer of privacy, housing, employment, and credit products or services can no longer be targeted to audiences based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or zip code.

The policy change will expand upon several targeting restrictions already in place within the Personalized Ads policies, including religious beliefs, marginalized groups, trade union membership, political content, and more.

Housing, Credit & Employment Updates

Any ads centered around housing, credit, and employment will no longer be able to be targeted to audiences based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or zip code. This policy change will occur within the United States and Canada.

Examples of impacted ads:
  • Housing ads – where a home is defined as a place a person would reside. This includes services that help enable the sale or rental of a home
    • Examples: Real estate listing sites (e.g., Zillow), individual home sales, or real estate services
  • Employment ads – employment opportunities or hiring a person for a job
    • Examples: General job recruitment sites (e.g., Indeed), job listing sites, ads for jobs
    • For employment ads, a subset of U.S. government advertisers will be able to target restricted audiences under specific conditions
  • Credit ads – offers of credit or products that are related to credit lending
    • Examples: Loans – which could include home loans, car loans, appliance loans, etc. – and credit card applications (e.g., American Express)
Example: Long Island zip code vs. city targeting

Example: Minneapolis zip code vs. city targeting

What this means for advertisers

For those not running employment, credit or housing campaigns, the update will have no impact. However, it is important to note that even brands who aren’t directly within these industries may have campaigns that are impacted here – for example, if you’re not a credit lender but your brand has financing options, don’t be surprised if you receive a notice from Google.

Advertisers who face being impacted will receive a notification in their Google Ads account ahead of October 19th, prompting them to acknowledge the impending policy changes. Those who fail to accept the changes before the deadline will lose the ability to create a new campaign until the policy agreement has been accepted.

Once the policy goes into effect on October 19, any affected advertisers will no longer be able to use zip code, marital or parental status, age or gender targeting in their campaigns. Any existing campaigns that feature housing, credit or employment products and services that target any of the restricted audiences will become ineligible to serve. Campaigns should be updated before this new policy goes into effect to prevent any negative impact on ad approvals.

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