Google to Expand Personalized Gambling Ad-Block Feature
Starting next year, Google account holders (including Gmail, Android, and Chrome users) will be able to simply tick one box to filter out all gambling advertisements and alcohol ads on Google services, the internet giant has revealed this week.
If online casinos are legal where you are, you’ll know the deal on this one. You read one online casino article, and the next minute you’ve got online casino ads on your news feed, playing before videos, and on the side of your Google search.
For most people, that’s fine. If you’re reading about online casino news, you’re probably interested in using them from time to time. Adverts tracking your online activities are simply part of the bargain of being online in the modern-day.
However, for people who show problem gambling behaviours, this is an issue. Seeing online casino adverts can cause them anxiety or even lead them to relapse into bad patterns.
This may soon be a thing of the past if you use Google.
This newly-announced expansion to Google’s ad-block scheme will cover all of its services, including YouTube, Chrome, Google search, and Gmail.
However, the scheme will initially only roll out in the UK and the US, revealed British newspaper the Guardian. YouTube US will be the first to see the changes, followed by the UK shortly after.
They expect a full rollout across the world’s legal gambling markets by the end of 2021.
Google has also stated that the coverage would not be 100% effective, but it is confident it will block “the vast majority” of unwanted ads.
An Extra Step
Users can already filter personalized ads from Google. Those are the ones that use your browsing history to inform what kinds of ads you see through Google’s AdSense service.
You can filter those to get rid of gambling adverts, as well as other potentially harmful topics like alcohol. In fact, you can even (officially) turn the whole service off if you’re a little tech-savvy.
However, Google’s AdSense does not cover contextual adverts. These are adverts designated by a machine learning algorithm that are given to you based on the context of the page you’re looking at.
Unfortunately, the algorithm finds it hard to tell small (but often important) differences and levels of nuance between topics.
That means, for example, many people have reported seeing online casino adverts on problem gambling help pages or news stories about other problem gamblers.
This is obviously not a good thing. Google says its new program will be “an extra step, putting the choice in the user’s hands and enabling you to further control your ad experience. With a click of a button, you can choose to see fewer gambling and alcohol ads.”
The Betting and Gaming Council, the UK-facing representatives for some of the biggest gambling companies in the world, welcomed the move.
“We have previously urged Google and other tech platforms to provide the option to stop seeing gambling adverts. We welcome this step in the right direction and hope to see it launch in the UK very soon,”a spokesperson told the Guardian
The BGC has already taken many steps of its own to curb gambling adverts shown to vulnerable people. This included encouraging all of its members to cease advertising during the first UK lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
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