Google Turns To Hard Alcohol, Will Relax Ad Rules In January

Here’s one for the New Year handgover… Google (NSDQ: GOOG), whose UK ad income has plateaued in recent quarters, will relax its paid search advertising rules to allow hard alcohol to be advertised from January 12, paidContent:UK has learned. Whilst advertisers will be able to buy ads on Google only for branding (ie. pointing to a drink’s marketing site), “ads and sites promoting the direct sale of alcohol both online and offline will remain restricted as per current hard alcohol policy”, according to the forthcoming guidelines, which we have seen. An announcement is due soon, maybe Monday.

But maybe Google is already advertising sales of the hard stuff – queries we ran today for various alcohol brands turned up search ads for drinks on retail sites like Sainsbury’s and Shopzilla (as well as one drink awareness ad from NHS Direct).

Google says the policy move was “a response to industry standards”. Advertisers will get to market alcohol brands on Google in any countries that allow it, but not in those like Thailand and India, which don’t allow any adult material in Google search results. The ads will be marked “non-family safe”. Google relaxed the brand ads restriction on beers back in October, though beer sale ads also appeared today, and widened a ban on gambling advertising last year.