Google Responds to Brand Safety Concerns: New Opt-Out Feature for Advertisers

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Google Responds to Brand Safety Concerns: New Opt-Out Feature for Advertisers

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising, the integrity and placement of ads remain a paramount concern for brands worldwide. Recently, Google has introduced a significant update in response to these concerns, particularly highlighted by a comprehensive report from Adalytics. This new change, allowing advertisers to opt out of the Search Network, marks a pivotal shift in how brands can control where their ads appear.

Background: The Adalytics Report

The catalyst for this change was an insightful report by Adalytics, which brought to light a pressing issue: Google ads were appearing alongside potentially harmful content on non-Google websites. These sites, flagged in the research, contained a range of inappropriate material, including pornographic, sanctioned, and pirated content. This revelation raised questions about the effectiveness of Google’s ad placement policies and the potential risks to brand safety.

This decision comes in the wake of an Adalytics report claiming that Google search ads appeared on inappropriate non-Google websites through the search partner sites, creating potential risks for safety. Search partners include hundreds of non-Google websites as well as YouTube and other Google sites. Ads can appear on search partner sites that display and link to products for sale. The click-through rate (CTR) for ads on search partner sites doesn’t impact your Quality Score on Google.

Google's Proactive Response

While Google initially refuted the claims in the Adalytics report, it has acknowledged the necessity for improvements in its ad network. In a move to bolster customer satisfaction and brand integrity, Google now allows advertisers to completely opt out of the Search Network. This decision extends to all campaign types, encompassing Performance Max and app campaigns, thus offering advertisers unprecedented control over their ad placements.

The Impact on Brands and Advertisers

For brands, the alignment of their advertisements with inappropriate content can be detrimental, tarnishing their reputation and potentially alienating their target audience. Moreover, this mismatch leads to inefficient use of advertising budgets, with ads reaching viewers unlikely to convert or engage meaningfully with the brand. Google’s new opt-out feature addresses these issues, providing advertisers with the tools to safeguard their brand image.

Google's Official Stance

In response to the controversy, Dan Taylor, Vice President of Global Ads at Google Search, characterized the Adalytics report’s findings as “wildly exaggerated.” However, a Google spokesperson also emphasized the company’s dedication to partner feedback and continuous product improvement. This new option to opt out reflects Google’s commitment to adapting its services to meet the evolving needs and concerns of its partners.

Ensuring Safety in the Search Partner Network (SPN)

Google’s Search Partner Network (SPN) has been under scrutiny for its content monitoring practices. In response to these concerns, Google has highlighted its rigorous safeguards within the SPN. These include scaled content enforcement through automated classifiers and human reviewers, regular sweeps for policy violations, and robust protections against invalid traffic. Such measures underline Google’s ongoing efforts to maintain a safe and effective advertising environment.


The introduction of the opt-out option for the Search Network by Google signifies a crucial development in the digital advertising domain. It reflects a growing recognition of the importance of brand safety and the need for advertisers to have greater control over their ad placements. As the digital advertising sphere continues to grow and evolve, such measures are vital in maintaining the trust and efficacy of online advertising platforms.


Q1: What is Google's new update for advertisers?

A1: Google has introduced an option for advertisers to opt out of the Search Network. This update allows advertisers to choose not to have their ads displayed on non-Google websites that are part of Google’s Search Partner Network.

Q2: Why was this change implemented?

A2: This change follows a report by Adalytics which claimed that Google ads were appearing alongside potentially harmful content, like pornographic, sanctioned, or pirated material, on non-Google websites. Google introduced this opt-out option in response to these concerns and to improve safety for advertisers.

Q3: What types of content were causing concern in the Adalytics report?

A3: The Adalytics report raised concerns about Google ads appearing next to inappropriate content, including pornographic, sanctioned, and pirated material on various non-Google websites.

Q4: Can all types of campaigns be excluded from the Search Partner Network?

A4: Yes, advertisers can exclude all campaign types from the Search Network, including Performance Max and app campaigns.

Q5: How does opting out of the Google Search Ads Network affect ad reach?

A5: Opting out of the Search Network means that ads will no longer appear on non-Google websites. This could potentially reduce the reach of the ads but provides more control over where the ads are displayed, ensuring they do not appear alongside content that could harm the brand’s reputation.

Q6: What is Google’s stance on the findings of the Adalytics report?

A6: Google initially refuted the claims in the Adalytics report, labeling them as “wildly exaggerated.” However, they acknowledged the need for improvements and have thus introduced this opt-out feature.

Q7: Is there a deadline for advertisers to opt out of the Search Network?

A7: As of the latest information, there may be specific deadlines for certain campaign types. Advertisers should check Google’s official communications or their AdWords account for the most up-to-date information.

Q8: How does Google ensure the safety of sites in the Search Partner Network (SPN)?

A8: Google uses various mechanisms to ensure site safety in the SPN, including automated classifiers, human reviews, regular policy sweeps, and measures to protect against invalid traffic.

Q9: What should advertisers do if they want to opt out of the Search Network?

A9: Advertisers should log into their Google Ads account and adjust the settings for each campaign where they wish to opt out of the Search Network.

Q10: Will opting out of the Search Network impact campaign performance?

A10: The impact on campaign performance can vary. While it may reduce the potential reach of ads, opting out can also ensure that ads are not displayed in contexts that could harm the brand, potentially leading to more effective use of the advertising budget.