Google is loosening restrictions on certain gaming ads. The advertising giant announced it will start beta testing Social Casino Game ads in AdWords sometime around March.
These games are now included in a new standard sensitive ad category, which means they automatically display across Google’s ad ecosystem, including search, in apps via AdMob, Google Display Network and YouTube, unless publishers opt out. The category covers games in apps or sites targeted to adult audiences in which no money or prize of value is awarded:
“Social casino games” are simulated gambling games where there is no opportunity to win anything of value (such as money or prizes). Examples include, without limitation, poker, slots, bingo, lotteries, sports betting, betting on races, as well as other card games and casino games.
With slowing growth and mobile challenges, this is one way Google can open up to a growing category of advertisers that, so far, doesn’t come with regulator issues that affect traditional gambling advertising. Mobile is driving the surge in the social casino game market. Once propelled almost exclusively by social networks (FarmVille, anyone?), the market for social casino games is expected to hit $4.4 billion this year.
Publishers that don’t want these ads to display on their sites, apps or videos will have to opt-out of the social casino games ad category. Restrictions on standard gambling and betting ads have not been lifted or changed with this test.