Google releases new political ads library as part of its transparency report

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Google, yesterday, released an archive of political ads purchased on its platforms. The new library of political ads reveals how much money is spent on these ads across different states and congressional districts, along with a list of top advertisers. Political ads feature federal candidates or currently elected federal officeholders.

Google has been modifying its transparency report by adding different sections over the years due to European privacy laws, encryption adoption on websites i.e. HTTPS, among other evolving policy and user expectations.

Read also: EU slaps Google with $5 billion fine for the Android antitrust case

The latest archive is another newly added section in the company’s regular transparency report This report shares data revealing “how the policies and actions of governments and corporations affect privacy, security, and access to information. This is Google’s efforts to make things more transparent when it comes to online political advertisements.


Now, for any advertiser purchasing election ads on Google in the U.S., they have to “provide a government-issued ID and other key information that confirms they are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, as required by law. We also required that election ads incorporate a clear “paid for by” disclosure”, says Google.

The new election ad library is searchable, downloadable and provides information about the ads with the highest views, the latest election ads running on our platform, and specific advertisers’ campaigns. The data from the Ad Library is publicly available on Google Cloud’s BigQuery. This data is particularly helpful for researchers, political watchdog groups and private citizens as they can leverage this data to develop charts, graphs, tables or other visualizations of political ads on Google Ads services.

Apart from Google, Facebook and Twitter are other tech giants, who launched ad archives in recent months. Twitter ad archives are a part of the company’s increased transparency efforts. “We clearly label and show disclaimer information for federal political campaigning ads,” says Twitter.

Facebook has been under a lot of controversy regarding advertisements, especially after an outcry over Russians’ alleged purchase of political ads during the 2016 elections. Also, A.G., Bob Ferguson, last month, proved Facebook guilty of providing discriminatory advertisements on its platform. Facebook, now has its own political ad archive that shows information about who paid for these ads along with other details.

Google seems to be following Twitter and Facebook’s footsteps when it comes to political and issue-based advertising on its platform. Whether this comes at a right time, with the election season coming up soon, is another matter to be debated.  

The new database is updated every week and anyone can see the newly uploaded ads and the advertisers uploading these ads.

Google mentioned in their blog that despite the Ad Library providing many new insights, it’s still “working with experts in the U.S. and around the world to explore tools that capture a wider range of political ads—including ads about political issues (beyond just candidate ads), state and local election ads, and political ads in other countries”. Google’s aim with this is to protect these campaigns from digital attacks.

“We hope this provides unprecedented, data-driven insights into election ads on our platform,” says Google.

For more information regarding Google’s new political ad archive, check out the official Google blog post.

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