Google on Wednesday said it will limit the categories in audience targeting for election ads to age, gender, and general location such as postal ZIP codes across its platforms including Search, YouTube, and the Display network that support publishing partners.
The change aims to promote voter confidence in digital political advertising and restore trust in electoral processes worldwide.
Political advertisers can continue to contextually target ads to people who read online or watch a story related to the economy on television, for example.
This change aligns with Google’s approach to election ads with practices in media such as TV, radio, and print. It should result in election ads being more widely seen and available for public discussion. Some media such as direct mail will continue to be targeted more granularly.
While it will take time to implement the changes, Google initially will enforce the new approach in the United Kingdom within one week prior to the General Election, in the European Union by the end of the year, and in the rest of the world starting on January 6, 2020.
Findings from a report released this week from cybersecurity company CHEQ and the University of Baltimore found that online fake news now costs the global economy $78 billion annually.
The report, which analyzes the direct economic cost from fake news, suggest a loss of about $9 billion annually from health misinformation, $17 billion from financial misinformation, $9 billion in reputation management, $3 billion from platform safety efforts, and $400 million from fake political advertisements.
Brands will lose about $235 million this year from unknowingly running ads alongside fake news.
The policies are identical regardless of whether someone is running for an office or selling office furniture, per Google. The same ad policies apply.
It is against Google’s policies for any advertiser to make a false claim, whether a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, according to the post.
To clarify the policies, Google will add examples to show how the policies prohibit things like doctored and manipulated media, misleading claims about the census process, and ads or destinations that make demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process.
Google said it already offers an election advertising transparency report in India, the EU, and for federal U.S. election ads.
There are in-ad disclosures and a transparency report that show the actual content of the ads themselves, who paid for them, how much they spent, how many people saw them, and how they were targeted.