Google is evaluating additional PMax brand safety controls


Google is actively looking into improving brand safety controls for Performance Max (PMax) following a damning report by Adalytics.

The research, which was published last month, accused the search engine of serving ads on inappropriate non-Google websites through the Search Partner Network (SPN). Google denied the accusations but began giving advertisers the choice to opt out of the SNP a week later.

However, with this temporary measure set to end on March 1, 2024, Google Ads liaison officer Ginny Marvin has now confirmed that new safety controls are being considered.

Why we care. With Google removing the ability to opt out of the SPN, advertisers will want reassurance that their ads wont appear alongside inappropriate content that will unlikely reach their target audience and could damage their brand’s reputation.

What Google is saying. When Marvin was asked about PMax brand safety during a PPC Chat Q&A, she said:

  • “As you probably saw, there’s a temporary option to request to opt out of Search Partner Network at the account level through March 1st. I don’t have any updates to share at this time, but this is temporary as the teams evaluate additional controls to put in place.”
  • “As an FYI, looking at data from October, over 90% of SPN impressions were from Top 100 sites and apps, including YouTube.”

What did Adalytics say? Numerous ad buyers, expecting their campaigns to run on Google.com, found that their ads were actually appearing on compromising websites within the SPN, according to Adalytics. The GSP network websites include:

  • Sites containing pirated content.
  • Hardcore pornographic sites.
  • Websites of companies located in countries such as Iran and Russia which may be under sanctions by the US government.

However, Dan Taylor, Vice President of Global Ads at Google, denied the allegations, claiming Adalytics has as a track record of publishing inaccurate reports that misrepresent Google’s products and make exaggerated claims.

Existing brand safety controls. As Google looks into adding more brand safety controls, you currently have tools at your disposal to manage the types of content your PMax ads can be displayed alongside in Search, Shopping, Display, and Video inventory:

  • Search & Shopping suitability controls
    • New PMax campaign-level brand exclusions prevent your ads from serving for specific brand queries in Search & Shopping.
    • Account-level negative keywords prevent your ads from showing for those queries in Search & Shopping.
  • Display & Video suitability controls
    • Content labels allow you to narrow the maturity level of YouTube & GDN content your ads can show on or next to. This is where you’ll find the one-click “content suitable for families” option, for example.
    • Inventory type – expanded, standard, limited – allows you to quickly choose the type of content best suited to your brand on YouTube & GDN.
    • Content type exclusions prevent ads from showing on certain areas of video content such as live streaming or embedded YouTube video.
    • Sensitive content categories allow you to exclude certain types of GDN content such as tragedy and conflict.
    • Exclude up to 1000 content keywords to prevent ads from showing on YouTube & GDN content related to those exact words.
    • Placement exclusions prevent your ads from showing on specific YouTube and GDN content. PMax respects account- and MCC-level placement exclusions.
    • PMax placement reports show the sites & apps where your ads appeared and are built expressly for GDN brand safety tools.
    • And new Search Terms Insights updates include more categories, API integration, custom date ranges & downloading.

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Deep dive. Read our brand safety tips for YouTube and Google advertisers for more information on how to protect your brand.





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