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Google Bans Specific Verticals from YouTube Masthead via @sejournal, @martinibuster



It’s being reported that Google will be prohibiting advertising on YouTube’s Masthead from specific verticals. These restrictions come on top of existing restrictions on many of these same verticals.

The affected verticals that are known so far are:

  • Alcohol sales
  • Gambling
  • Prescription drugs
  • Election and political ads

Example of  a YouTube Masthead Ad for a Desktop DeviceAnimation of YouTube MastheadAnimation of YouTube Masthead

YouTube Masthead Advertising

YouTube’s masthead advertising unit is ad appearing at the top of the YouTube home page.

The Google Ads Help page describes this unit like this:

“This is a video ad that appears at the top of the YouTube homepage.

The YouTube Home feed is a very important destination for viewers, and the Masthead ad allows you to be first and foremost in that home experience.

Buying a Masthead ad means targeted reach across a campaign with budget and frequency controls. Masthead ads bought are available on YouTube across desktop, mobile apps, and the YouTube app for TV.”

Example of YouTube Masthead Ad for a Mobile Device

Screenshot of a YouTube Masthead for Mobile Device

Screenshot of a YouTube Masthead for Mobile Device

The masthead advertising unit is shown to the YouTube home page site visitors and is subject to stricter advertising policies.


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For example, advertisements targeting the YouTube masthead are subject to at least 48 hours advance approval. Prospective ad units must be approved by a Google sales representative 48 hours before being allowed to be displayed.

According to the Google YouTube masthead policy:

“Masthead ads are only available on a reservation basis through a Google sales representative.”

Masthead ad units must also abide by existing policies regarding sensitive verticals.

Example of YouTube Masthead Ad for a TV

Screenshot of a YouTube Masthead Ad for TVThe masthead is noted by Google to be relevant for advertisers for these purposes:

Screenshot of a YouTube Masthead Ad for TV

  • “Drive massive reach or awareness
  • Plan their buys in advance and don’t want to rely on auction
  • Show off their brand or service in a prominent space in the YouTube Home Feed”


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New Restrictions for Masthead Advertising

Axios is reporting that there will be new restrictions on specific verticals.

According to the report:

“YouTube will stop accepting ads for its masthead ad unit from certain verticals, including alcohol sales, gambling, prescription drugs, and election and political ads, Axios has learned.”

The stated reason for restricting these verticals from masthead ads is to improve the user experience.

These verticals are already restricted in that they can be advertised but with limitations. The masthead restrictions placed on these verticals represent a tightening of existing restrictions.


Restrictions Not Entirely Unexpected

Search Marketing and PPC Expert Kenny Hyder (@kennyhyder)  of Hyder Media expressed surprise that those verticals weren’t already prohibited.


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He remarked,

“I am surprised it took this long, those are standard categories with policy restrictions. Especially considering that YouTube has a sizable child audience, I think it should have been done a long time ago.”

I agree with Mr. Hyder that these restrictions aren’t entirely surprising.

He added,

“It’s probably just that more and more advertisers are starting to utilize video creative and they needed to catch up. Those topics are already restricted heavily on all other Google platforms.”


Scoop: YouTube to Ban Some Ad Verticals from Buying Masthead Ads



Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster



Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”



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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.



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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.


But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.


One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.


Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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