Google is planning to give people the ability to limit the number of personalized alcohol and gambling ads they see.
The feature, teased on Thursday, layers in additional controls within ad settings for sensitive ad topics. The controls will roll out on YouTube in the United States by the end of this year, and across Google Ads and YouTube globally in early 2021.
Countries that already have legal restrictions in place against serving booze and gambling ads will not see any changes in their policies. The controls will live alongside existing policies that determine personalization for gambling and alcohol ads, including age restrictions.
Users may still see contextual ads related to alcohol and gambling based on the sites they visit and the articles they read.
Google had been hearing from some users that they wanted the option to see fewer of these types of ads. Users can reverse their decision in their ad settings if they want to start seeing the ads again.
“It’s really important that when we are gathering feedback about a particular ad category, we are first and foremost taking into account the user experience and coupling that with advertiser feedback, because they are both part of a healthy ad ecosystem,” said Debbie Weinstein, VP of YouTube and video global solutions.
Google gathered information from its user feature controls, including “Stop seeing this ad” and “About this ad,” and also partnered with the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, whose membership includes AB InBev, Beam Suntory, Carlsberg Group, Diageo, Heineken, Molson Coors and Pernod Ricard.
There are any number of reasons why someone might want to limit their exposure to alcohol or gambling advertising. It’s possible, for example, that they have a drinking or gambling problem or, perhaps they just want to take a break from exposure for a short time, such as during Dry January.
“When we provide these features, our primary driver is providing people with the controls to make the right decisions for themselves at any given time,” Weinstein said.
Adoption of the feature “will depend on what the users’ interests are and the content they look at,” she said. “Users can always change their mind and reset the controls.”
As for whether Google will add enhanced transparency controls for any other sensitive ad categories down the line, Weinstein declined to share specifics.
But “we’re definitely always looking for new ways to improve the user experience,” she said.