We can all recognize this scenario, one rogue website or twitch of the mouse in the wrong direction, and our social media is jam-packed with ads for things we simply aren’t that interested in. Even if we were, it’s not entirely stimulating to see ads for the same thing every time we’re interrupted in the middle of a video entitled ‘animals do the funniest things’. But there are more important reasons for limiting exposure to specific categories of advertising, and Google is tackling this issue head-on.
With the rise in popularity of the phone casino in the palm of your hand, there is growing concern that the devil makes work for idle hands. With most of our web interaction now currently taking place on mobile phones and tablets, the assumption is if you’re accessing the net ‘on the move’ it is all too easy to be tempted by ads for gambling sites where big money jackpots can lure you in while you have the little bit of extra time to spare.
If you are to believe the headlines – ‘Google Blocks Gambling Ads’ – you could be forgiven for thinking you’ll never see a gambling ad again. But this is not how it really works in practice.
Currently, on Facebook, you can flag up ads that you don’t want to see again. These are individual ads that aren’t category-specific. But now, Google is rolling out a category-specific blocker for gambling and alcohol ads. Concerns have been raised by users of social media and YouTube that vulnerable people are being targeted inappropriately by this type of advertising, and they want to see it stop.
Google has faced criticism over gambling ads appearing on inappropriate websites, including articles that tackle problems regarding problem gambling. Adverts are also known to have appeared on websites accessed by minors, and people struggling with gambling addictions. But, hands up to Google, they have listened to the feedback and are on the case.
Although gambling and alcohol ads won’t completely disappear, should the user decide to inform Google they don’t want to see this type of advertising, the ads will be significantly reduced in number. The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) have welcomed the news and is encouraged by the efforts as a step in the right direction.
It isn’t the first time the gambling industry has been targeted in this way, concerns have been raised previously about adverts being shown during televised sports games – programs that children and vulnerable adults have easy access to. The gambling companies agreed not to continue displaying the adverts, again a responsible response through listening to feedback and acting on it.
Further concerns have been raised as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, Labour MP Carolyn Harris expressed concerns about the visibility of gambling ads at a time a lot of children would be spending more time on social media. The gambling industry has eased those concerns by reassuring the general public they have been advertising less during this period. What must be known is there are many stringent policies and codes of conduct in place to protect those most vulnerable.
The gambling industry would not be able to continue to provide its services if these were not followed to the letter. They must comply with the regulatory advertising codes to ensure that their adverts do not target children or vulnerable gamblers and that the content is factually correct.
In an effort to adhere to its ethical commitment to users, Google will see the US roll out the new category-specific advert blocker this year, with the UK moving on board in early 2021. Google is satisfied it will be able to exclude most of the ads that up until now have been visible on social media platforms, YouTube, and websites using Google Ads.
If you are interested in even more technology-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.