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Google is cracking down on advertising for face masks during the coronavirus epidemic. The company began banning ads for face masks on Monday.

Applies to all face mask advertising. The ban applies to all advertisers, including those who may have had long-running campaigns promoting “dust masks,” for example. Advertisers will see a message in their accounts stating, “This candidate is not permitted to show ads in your target location,” as shown in the tweet above from Lane Rissardini of Dallas-based Marion Relationship Marketing.

It falls under the “sensitive events” section of Google’s guidelines around suitable advertising content. It typically takes a few days for this type of change to fully take effect across Google’s ad systems and for existing ads to be removed.

The move comes after the company began noticing a recent rise in ads for face masks running against coronavirus-related keywords, many with misleading healthcare claims.

Part of broader effort to curb coronavirus misinformation. This is the latest action Google has taken to block misleading ads around coronavirus. Google, Facebook, and other advertising platforms have seen a rise in scammers trying to profit from the global epidemic. Google said it has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads since it began seeing a rise in misleading ads touting coronavirus prevention in mid-January.

“We’re committed to protecting users and surfacing helpful, authoritative information as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement given to Search Engine Land. “Since January, we have blocked hundreds of thousands of ads for misleading coronavirus-related products or services. Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily ban all medical face mask ads. We’re actively monitoring the situation and will continue to take action as needed to protect users.”

On Friday, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, published a blog post outlining the company’s efforts to address COVID-19, including the establishment of a 24-hour incident response team. The company has launched an “SOS Alert” for COVID-19 in search results to link people to the latest news and authoritative sources of information from the World Health Organization (WHO). On YouTube, it has added a callout on the homepage linking to WHO “or other locally relevant” organizations.

Why we care. This is an example of ways in which the big digital ad platforms must constantly monitor and adapt to new scams by bad actors. The actions of profiteers will be felt by legitimate advertisers across the digital ecosystem. Google’s ban on face masks is global and will be in effect until coronavirus is no longer a major health concern.

Microsoft appears to have blocked face mask advertising on Bing, but we have not received confirmation of that yet. Facebook announced a temporary ban on ads for face masks on Friday.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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