Google pauses opioid painkiller policy update

Google indefinitely paused its planned Healthcare and medicines policy update that would have allowed certified advertisers to discuss opioid painkillers without promoting or selling them.

Why we care. This reversal affects advertisers in healthcare, public policy and addiction treatment sectors who were preparing for new advertising possibilities.

Key details:

  • The original update was set for June.
  • It would have allowed discussion of public policy solutions for opioid abuse.
  • It required a new certification for advertisers.

What they’re saying. Google stated:

  • “Due to implementation challenges, Google will be indefinitely pausing this policy update. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Between the lines. The implementation challenges hint at potential complexities in verifying and monitoring certified advertisers.

The big picture. This policy shift and subsequent pause reflect the ongoing challenges in balancing public health discussions with responsible advertising practices.

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What’s next. Advertisers should continue to follow existing policies, which prohibit ads promoting or selling prescription opioid painkillers.

Bottom line. While the pause maintains the status quo, it also delays potential opportunities for legitimate discussions about opioid issues in advertising.

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About the author

Anu Adegbola

Anu Adegbola has been Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land since 2024. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media, video and more.

In 2008, Anu’s career started with

 delivering digital marketing campaigns (mostly but not exclusively Paid Search) by building strategies, maximising ROI, automating repetitive processes and bringing efficiency from every part of marketing departments through inspiring leadership both on agency, client and marketing tech side.

Outside editing Search Engine Land article she is the founder of PPC networking event – PPC Live, host of weekly podcast PPCChat Roundup, and brand evangelist at ClickTech. 
She is also an international speaker with some of the stages she has presented on being SMX (US), SMX (Munich), Friends of Search (Amsterdam), brightonSEO, The Marketing Meetup, HeroConf (PPC Hero), SearchLove, BiddableWorld, SESLondon, PPC Chat Live, AdWorld Experience (Bologna) and more.

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