Google to start limiting political advertisers' targeting reach

Contextual advertising, like “serving ads to people reading or watching a story about the economy” is still permitted.

Google will start placing more restrictions on the targeting ability of political advertisers trying to reach voters.

The move means political advertisers will no longer be able to target voters based on their political affiliation or public voter records. However, they will still be able to target voters based on age, gender and zip code.

The tech giant added that contextual advertising, like “serving ads to people reading or watching a story about the economy”, for example, would still be permitted.

The United Kingdom will be the first country to see these new changes come into effect ahead of its general election at the end of 2019. The new changes will then be rolled out globally on January 6, 2020.

“We’re proud that people around the world use Google to find relevant information about elections and that candidates use Google and search ads to raise small-dollar donations that help fund their campaigns,” said Scott Spencer, the vice president of product management for Google Ads.

“But given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms.”

Google's move to limit political advertising comes on the heels of Twitter announcing that it stop running political ads entirely. Facebook has also announced new countermeasures to stamp out UK election interference.

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