Why Google Is Banning Ads Denying Climate Change

It’s not even an uncommon occurrence anymore: companies are cruising along doing business as usual, not a care in the world when bam! Google decides to ban their ad account out of the blue. The worst kind of surprise? Probably, if they’ve spent a bomb on their Ad Campaign, which they likely have. Besides, it’s not just accounts that get banned, ads get banned as well.

You could argue that getting one ad banned isn’t as bad as having an entire account taken down, but this isn’t necessarily true. Why? Well, if you have an ad banned, then there’s a very good chance that your account will get banned as well. Think of it this way, if you get on Google’s radar in a bad way, then there’s very little way out! If you’re wondering why Google would ban ads in the first place, you’re not alone. After all, if everyone knew why it was happening, maybe it wouldn’t happen so often!

There are many reasons why Google takes down ads and accounts and we’ve taken the liberty to discuss these with you before. However, a new type of ad that Google has been banning left, right, and center is ads that deny the existence of climate change. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (which may not stay put for very long since global warming can speed up weathering), you should have heard of climate change over and over again until you’re sick of it. Of late, more and more companies have been putting out ads denying climate change despite having evidence of its existence shoved in their faces.

It also doesn’t help when (ahem) global leaders shout from the rooftops about how climate change isn’t real. But where does Google come in here? Well, about two weeks ago, Google announced that it would ban all ads from companies that attempted to make money off the belief that climate change doesn’t exist. For instance, assume that you’ve been trying to peddle a product that could create unnecessary pollution. However, you know that environment-conscious users won’t be comfortable buying it. So what do you do? You put out ads that insinuate users shouldn’t worry about how your product affects the environment because you believe human activity cannot contribute to it.

Great job! Now Google will take down your ad quicker than Thanos could snap his stone-laden fingers. But what does Google base such a decision on? The collective opinions and findings of scientific experts all over the world have played a role in influencing this big step by the tech giant. The idea behind banning such ads is that companies shouldn’t profit off the naïve belief that many users share about how our actions don’t accelerate climate change.

This isn’t to say that only those ads that seek to monetize climate change denial will be taken down. Even those ads that follow a somewhat activist-esque angle to denying climate change could be banned. However, the proportion of the ads that don’t seek monetary gain from rubbishing climate change evidence pales in comparison to their profit-seeking counterparts. All this aside, one might very well ask: why now? Ads that deny the glaringly obvious effects of climate change to fill the coffers of large conglomerates have been doing the rounds for years, even decades. So what has prompted this drastic measure this year?

The truth of the matter is that this is neither a drastic nor a new measure. Google already had policies in place that attempt to curb the spread of misinformation online regarding socio-political issues, medical issues, and more. The banning of ads from anti-vaccine advocates is one such example. Over the years, Google has been working on improving its ad targeting in a way that minimizes the exposure (does “Google FLoCs failure” ring any bell?)the average user faces to ads that spread misleading information.

Needless to say, this is a mammoth task since the internet is a breeding ground for false information, especially in the context of Display Ads. However, lately, the abundance of information available out there on the effects of climate change has polarized people. Now, people either firmly believe that we need to act right away to deal with climate change or believe that climate change is a political/profit-driven issue that is made up to win votes/sell products.

Whatever people believe, the fact remains: people are more aware of climate change now than they ever were before and companies are seeking to capitalize on that one way or another. Therefore, it logically follows that Google has given up on patching its algorithm to display fewer misleading ads and instead has decided to ban them once and for all. Perhaps it’s hoping to send out a louder message than it did before on the kind of content that it’ll tolerate. After all, it’s already banning ads that promote vulgarity, illegal practices, fraudulent sites, and much more….so why not climate change?

So in other words, all that Google is doing now is building on what it’s already established, only with more drastic and possibly more effective measures. How well this works remains to be seen as it’s not a fool-proof method of keeping such controversial ads at bay. Considering Google is tied up with many platforms such as YouTube and Instagram for ad targeting purposes though, we can’t see why this tactic shouldn’t work. Either way, this seems to be another banned subject in Google’s ever-changing list so it’s always wise to stay abreast of what Google Ads policies are up to. 

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