Google unveils major Search Partner Network update as it removes opt-out option

Google is giving advertisers more control over ad placement within the Search Partner Network.

From March 4, advertisers using Performance Max will have access to impression-level placement reporting of Search Partner Network sites.

Additionally, if you exclude certain ad placements at the account level, it will now apply to the Search Partner Network, as well as YouTube and display ads, according to Ad Age.

Why now? These substantial changes come after an Adalytics report accused Google of quietly placing search ads on inappropriate non-Google websites through the Search Partner Network – including sites containing pornographic, sanctioned and pirated content. Google denied the claims, saying Adalytics has a track record of publishing inaccurate reports that misrepresent Google’s products.

Changes. Before the Adalytics report was published in November, all Pmax campaigns were automatically opted into the Search Partner Network and could not opt out. For other campaigns, being opted into search partners was the default setting, but advertisers had the option to opt out.

Following the Adalytics report, Google temporarily permitted Pmax users to opt out of search partner inventory until March 1. As this option is set to be removed, Google is now providing advertisers with unprecedented insights and control over ad placement within the Search Partner Network.

Why we care. Advertisers will gain better control and insights into the placement of their ads within the Search Partner Network. This enables them to address concerns about their ads being placed near inappropriate content, safeguarding their brand reputation.

What is the Search Partner Network? The Search Partner Network consists of websites and apps that collaborate with Google to display search ads. This network extends beyond traditional search platforms and includes major Google properties such as YouTube and Google Discover. Additionally, it encompasses numerous other websites that may not be directly associated with typical search activities.

Why are campaigns added to the SPN? Google opts campaigns are opted into the Search Partner Network because the search engine claims it sees “a measurable improvement” in clicks and conversion when advertisers extend their reach to these sites.” Opting into the SPN can enable advertiser to reach customers on sites like YouTube.

What is Adalytics? Adalytics is a crowd-sourced advertising performance optimization platform that was set up to review and improve the digital advertising landscape. 

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Deep dive. You can learn more about Adalytics’ investigation by reading its report ‘Does a lack of transparency create brand safety concerns for search advertisers?

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About the author

Nicola Agius

Nicola Agius is Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land after joining in 2023. She covers paid media, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company’s editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book Mastering In-House SEO.

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