Google advertisers can now opt out of SPN amid Adalytics claims

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Google is providing advertisers with the option to opt out of the Search Partner Network (SPN).

This decision comes in the wake of an Adalytics report claiming that Google search ads were appearing on inappropriate non-Google websites through the SPN, creating potential risks for brand safety. The flagged websites referenced in the research contain pornographic, sanctioned, and pirated content.

Although Google refuted the claims, it has since acknowledged the need for improvements and customer satisfaction, leading to the introduction of the ability to exclude the SPN from all campaign types.

Why we care. Ads appearing alongside inappropriate content can damage a brand’s reputation, potentially dissuading future customers from engaging with the brand. Additionally, the audience consuming such content is unlikely to align with your intended target demographic, leading to an inefficient use of advertising budget, time, and resources..

New capabilities. Advertisers temporarily have the option to exclude all campaign types, including Performance Max and app campaigns, from the SPN. Media buyers reportedly have until 1 March 2023 to opt out PMax campaigns.

Adalytics claims. The Adalytics report, which was published last week, claimed that an unnamed Fortune 500 company was left “surprised” after learning that its ads were being served on “many” non-Google websites. Such websites included Breitbart.com – a site the company had specifically added to its account-level domain exclusion list (i.e. blocklist) several years beforehand. An Adalytics researcher commented:

  • “This raises the possibility that ads were served on websites and publishers despite the brand’s deliberate efforts to achieve brand safety and exercise control over their media investments.”

Dan Taylor, Vice President, Global Ads at Google, denied the claims int he report, describing them as “wildly exaggerated” on X.

What Google is saying. A Google spokesperson told Ad Week:

  • “Our priority is our partners, and we listen closely to their feedback, which is why we are temporarily offering a new option to opt out.”
  • “Adalytics made wildly exaggerated claims by trying to generate as many negative ad placements as they could, but our own analysis found that those placements rarely occurred before they intentionally triggered them.”
  • “Though we take enormous issue with Adalytics’ methodology and conclusions, we always look to improve our products to meet our partners’ needs.”

Search Engine Land has contacted Google for further comment.


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Deep dive. Read Search Engine Land’s coverage of the Adalytics report for more information.

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