Google moves to restrict ads for addiction queries


Google will be limiting ads related to addiction queries, as reported by several outlets including The Verge, New York Times, and Search Engine Land  including queries such as:

  • "drug detox"
  • "drug rehabilitation"
  • "drug treatment program"

What will be replacing them is a local pack featuring nearby treatment centers. The following queries are still showing ads

  • "addiction help"
  • "addiction rehab"
  • "painkiller detox"

But this may change as the update fully rolls out. This is a similar action as Google has taken in the past, relating to certain types short term lending, such as payday loans. One question to consider is if this change will lead to a shift in some of the sizable adspend in this sector from SEM to SEO while google figures out new advertising guidelines for addiction?

The response from the healthcare community in response to the change seems favorable. The New York Times, quotes Obama Administration Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy who states that, "People don’t always know what good treatment is” and "I am glad Google took steps to prevent the spread of these false ads.”

Elsewhere on the web there seems to be further praise, regarding this change: