Google promises to stop showing kids ads for adult products

Google promises to stop showing kids ads for adult products

This week Google said it would step up enforcement of its age-appropriate advertising policy immediately after Reuters found ads promoting sex toys, liquor and high-risk investments in search that UK law should block.

Credit: REUTERS/Paresh Dave/File Photo

Credit: REUTERS/Paresh Dave/File Photo

In September last year, the UK passed rules aimed at making children safer online. Google, in turn, began changing the settings of its services in Europe and some other regions. Among the measures the company promised in August was also “Improving security features to prevent teenagers from being shown advertisements for adult products”. In particular, the search giant has started using automated tools to block ads related to categories like alcohol, gambling, prescription drugs, and some other adult products from being shown to people who aren’t signed in to a Google account or under the 18 years old.

However, Google’s efforts did not produce the desired results. Advertisers who asked to remain anonymous said they were frustrated by a significant drop in sales because Google blocked their ads while ads for similar adult products from their competitors continued to appear in search results for unauthorized and underage users.

Reuters found that just last week underage users in the UK were being shown ads for loans, cholesterol medication, adult toys and hard liquor. Google quickly responded to the issue, stating: “The ads in question were incorrectly tagged, in which case they should have been restricted“. The company announced that it would take immediate steps to resolve the issue.

Google’s competitors in the advertising business, like Meta or Microsoft, either ban many categories of age-restricted ads outright or hold advertisers accountable for targeting their ads to restrict access to minors.

The UK’s Children’s Code requires online services to comply with 15 data protection standards designed to protect children. These requirements include limiting the collection of young user location information and other personally identifiable information. Google says its ad filtering efforts are fully consistent with the code.


About the author

Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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