Google updates its ads policy for inappropriate content to include ‘public health emergency’

The change to the sensitive events section of the policy is effective immediately.

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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Google Ads has updated its Inappropriate content policy. The updates take aim at keywords around sensitive events, price gouging and more.

The update, released Tuesday and effective immediately, does not specifically mention coronavirus, but the change is clearly aimed at preventing advertisers from trying to capitalize on the outbreak. Google banned ads for face masks earlier this month.

Why we care. Digital platforms have struggled to stay ahead of misinformation and fraudulent claims as well as price gauging by advertisers trying to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis. This policy update may appear subtle, but it gives Google a clearer path to take action against bad actors and prevent advertisers from advertising on coronavirus-related keywords during this pandemic.

The update. The new language adds the mention of “public health emergency”: “Content that potentially capitalizes on or lacks reasonable sensitivity towards a natural disaster, conflict, death, public health emergency, or other tragic event.”

Google Ads Inappropriate Content Policy Coronavirus
The new sensitive events policy.

The examples have also been expanded to include price gouging, the sale of products or services in high demand during a sensitive event and the use of “keywords related to a sensitive event to attempt to gain additional traffic.”

The old policy. The sensitive events section simply read, “Content that may be deemed as capitalizing on or lacking reasonable sensitivity towards a natural disaster, conflict, death, or other tragic event,” according to a December snapshot.

Google Ads Inappropriate Content Policy Sensitive Events December 2019
The examples were much simpler in December.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Ginny Marvin
Ginny Marvin was Third Door Media’s former Editor-in-Chief (October 2018 to December 2020), running the day-to-day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin wrote about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, MarTech and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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