Discretionary food & drinks ad ban for children on Google & YouTube – UK and EU
In an unusual move, Google and YouTube have announced they will ban discretionary food & drinks advertising to users under 18.
The ban only applies to the EU and the UK but goes well beyond the anti-obesity changes recently announced by the UK government. Starting on 6 October, the new policy will require advertisers to restrict ads featuring discretionary food and drinks to only signed in users aged 18 and over. If a user is not logged in to their accounts, the default setting will be to not show ads for the discretionary foods.
To determine which food and drinks fall into the no go category, Google has created a nutrition criteria that advertisers have to apply when placing food and drinks ads. The change applies to all advertising on YouTube and throughout the Google Display Network in the UK and EU regions.
The announcement comes on the back of an anti-obesity drive by UK PM, Boris Johnson, who announced his intention to ban discretionary food and drinks advertising on TV and online before 9pm.
The Google policy goes beyond any existing food and beverage advertising policies in the UK and EU which limit such advertising to 16 and over (UK) and 12 and over in the European Union.
Google Australia has confirmed there are no plans to bring the policy here however policies keep evolving at YouTube. YouTube announced at the beginning of the year that any food or beverage advertising is banned on YouTube Kids globally. While Google claims the impact on advertisers is limited, there is a risk that the age threshold of this policy will set a precedent with regulators and other media and it will be interesting to see how a policy implemented in one part of the world can avoid being implemented consistently, globally.