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YouTube bans election and gambling ads at the top of its homepage

YouTube will no longer allow certain types of ads in the masthead, the ad unit that appears at the top of the homepage. Certain election and political ads, as well as those related to gambling, alcohol and prescription drugs, are now banned from appearing in that slot.

You won’t see ads that refer to online gambling, offline gambling or social casino games running across the top of the homepage. Nor will ads that endorse a political candidate show up. Ads concerning political issues might still appear in the slot, but YouTube will review them on a case-by-case basis, according to Axios. The updated policy is in effect immediately.

The YouTube homepage is one of the most-visited webpages in the world and the masthead is prime real estate for advertisers. YouTube has shifted away from allowing them to take over the masthead for an entire day, instead switching to a targeted model for those ads. Donald Trump’s re-election campaign bought that ad slot on election day in November, before that change came into effect.

According to YouTube’s ad support page, ads in the masthead slot can “drive massive reach or awareness,” but now that megaphone will no longer be available to people wanting to advertise in certain spaces. Google already provides a way for users to limit the number of alcohol and gambling-related ads they see on YouTube, and in theory the setting would’ve applied to the masthead ad — according to Google, last year the company changed the slot to show targeted ads, rather than ones that had been reserved for an entire day.

For years Google has tried to balance its policies to determine what it does and doesn’t show in ads recently, it’s reined in ads that used hate speech as keywords, political misinformation, and conspiracy theories around COVID-19. As it’s worked to clean up what ads it puts in front of users, Google’s ads business has also increasingly come under scrutiny from lawmakers who believe it’s ripe for antitrust enforcement.

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