Why Google Gave Advertisers Insight To Audit Ads

Google is addressing transparency and oversight issues for advertisers and search partners after last year’s report from Adalytics suggested instances where ads were displayed on pornographic websites and those affiliated with sanctioned companies in Iran and Russia.

“After deep consultation with our advertising partners, we’ve decided to unify our brand suitability preferences so that account level placement exclusions will apply to the Search partner network, in addition to YouTube and Display, starting next month," said a Google spokesperson. "We will also offer impression level placement reporting for Search partner network sites in PMax campaigns.” 

Placement exclusions allow advertisers to exclude ads from serving on placements for specific pages, sites, mobile apps, and videos to follow brand-suitability guidelines, with supports for Search and Shopping, Display and Video, Travel and Hotel inventory.



This suitability setting now works for all of an advertisers' campaigns that appear on YouTube, Display network, Search partner network (which was just added), and Google Video Partners.

All campaigns include Performance Max (PMax) along with video, display, or any other campaigns where the ad appears on the platforms listed here.

The changes to the search network -- which will begin to roll out March 4 -- are based on a 30-day sample, including more than 90% of Search Partner Network impressions from Top 100 sites and apps, including YouTube.

Google says that ProSE, the focus of the 2023 Adalytics report, represents a fraction of Search Partner Network impressions -- less than 1% based on a 30-day sample.

Google believes that Adalytics made "wildly exaggerated claim" by trying to generate as many negative ad placements as they could, but Google's analysis found those placements rarely occurred before they intentionally triggered them.

ProSE is a Google product used by thousands of nonprofits, education institutions and other websites that gives them a free search experience directly on their sites. It is a free, ad-supported way for websites to add a custom search box to their web pages and show fast, relevant results powered by Google Search.

Websites that enable ProSE have clear Terms of Service they must follow, which prohibits Adult Content. Those that have violations lose their ability to use the platform.

Google's analysis of the report did not identify ad revenue being shared with a single sanctioned entity.

And based on feedback in December, Google said it stopped serving ads on certain ProSE sites with negligible traffic where there was no revenue sharing.

Transparency has become an issue with Google according to advertisers and the non-profit Check My Ads. The ad-tech watchdog accused Google of “running search ads on brand unsafe — and sometimes illegal inventory through the platform."

“Google urges advertisers to use GSP, a network of ‘vetted’ non-Google websites and YouTube channels, to reach more customers across the web,” Check My Ads wrote in a blog post. “But they have never allowed advertisers to find out which websites they were running on — or how much they were spending on each of them.”

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