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YouTube Bans Political Ads From Its Top Ad Spot

The crackdown comes after the Trump campaign blanketed these slots for days on end.

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Photo: Sean Gallup (Getty Images)

YouTube updated its ads policies on Monday to ban any ads featuring gambling, alcohol, prescription drugs, and political content from prominently playing at the top of its homepage.

Before today, this so-called “masthead” spot—the giant banner ad you see splashed at the top of your screen whenever you visit the YouTube website—was held to the same standards as every other Google and YouTube ad. A Google spokesperson said that the company revamped these requirements to offer users a “better experience” when they peruse YouTube’s site. They added that the company “regularly [reviews its] advertising requirements to ensure they balance the needs of both advertisers and users.”


The update means ads that feature elections or politics” join such unsavory categories as ads for alcohol, gambling, and prescription drugs, all of which are prohibited on YouTube’s top ad spot.

If you used YouTube at all during the past election season, you were probably bombarded by the nonstop torrent of ads that the Trump campaign ran for weeks on end across the platform’s homepage. The company would later ban advertisers across the board from buying full-day advertisements to run in these masthead slots.


YouTube pointed out that these slots are “the most prominent placement” available to advertisers across any Google property, which makes them prime real estate—and incredibly expensive, with slots sometimes going for millions of dollars at a time.

But while the company might be getting scrupulous over this coveted piece of ad real estate, the company notes that ads turned down for the masthead spot “may continue to run on Google’s other owned and operated properties.” Considering how poorly the ads on these “other properties” have been policed in the past, it’s worth assuming these rejected ads won’t have any problem reaching any of us regardless.