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    15 months ago

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    “This raises the possibility that ads were served on websites and publishers despite the brand’s deliberate efforts to ensure brand safety and control over their media investments,” writes Adalytics, an ad analytics firm that is behind the study of the GSP network, discussing an example involving “a major Fortune 500 brand” client whose Google search ads not only appeared on Breitbart (despite it having the site on a blocklist) — but, per the report, were also being served on “pirated content sites, hardcore pornographic sites, and hundreds of putatative Iranian websites, which may potentially be under US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets (OFAC) sanctions.”

    But at some point over the last several years, Google appears to have flipped a switch that started defaulting advertisers into the GSP network — whereas, previously, it may have required an active opt in.

    Google’s Publisher Policies, which its search partners are required to adhere to, do not permit ads being served alongside content that infringes copyright or is graphically sexual.

    Yet Adalytics was able to document scores of instances of GSPs that appear to be in breach of one or more of these rules being able to serve Google search ads — raising questions about the adtech giant’s enforcement of its own publisher policies on this third party network it monetizes.

    (Although Google claims its customers can request an SPN report from their account manager to get visibility on where on this third-party network their ads ran after the fact.)

    Hence why Adalytics’ report poses the question of whether greater transparency is needed on this less visible corner of the mainstream search ad market.

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