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AdSense Policy Update: Gameplay imagery exception to Shocking content publisher restrictions

Google is updating its Publisher Restrictions to make some exceptions for gameplay imagery in its shocking content policy. These changes go into effect on August 30.

This policy is for AdSense, AdMob and Google Ad Manager publishers.

Google Ads will not be served on content covered by Google Publisher Restrictions, but other advertisers may run ads on the content. But the content is likely to have fewer ads to display.

What is the Google Publisher Restrictions Shocking Content Policy?

Google Publisher Policy defines "Shocking content" as:
  • Content that contains “gruesome, graphic, or disgusting accounts or imagery”.
    Examples: blood, guts, gore, sexual fluids, human or animal waste, crime scene photos, accident photos
  • Content that depicts acts of violence.
    Examples: Shootings, explosions, bombings, executions
  • Content that contains “a significant amount of or prominently features obscene or profane language” (this probably does not apply to game imagery)
    Examples: a significant amount or swear or curse words, including variations and misspellings
See the Publisher Policies Help Center for more examples.

With this update, violent gameplay imagery is only considered to fall under this policy if it depicts:
  • Acts of torture
  • Sexual violence
  • Violence against minors
  • Violence against “prominent real-name persons”
  • Violence against “an individual or group on the basis of a characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization”

Learn More

AdSense Policy Change Log
Publisher Policies Help: Shocking Content
AdSense Help: Google Publisher Restrictions
Google Streamlines Publisher Policies & Adds Policy Change Log for AdSense, AdMob and Ad Manager

How to submit an appeal

If your website or app previously had ad serving restricted due to “Shocking Content” that no longer falls under this policy, you can submit an appeal.
  1. Sign in to your AdSense, AdMob or Google Ad Manager account
  2. Open the Policy Center from the left menu (for Google Ad Manager accounts that option is under Admin)
  3. Find the site or app you want reviewed, and click Fix
  4. In the Issues Found section, click Request Review
  5. Review the information and then explain why you believe ad restrictions should be removed.
  6. Confirm you are ready for review and click Request Review or Submit Request.
See the AdSense, AdMob or Google Ad Manager help center for more information.

Note that you can only appeal after this policy change has gone into effect on August 30, 2023.

What Policies do YouTube Partners need to follow?

Note that if your YouTube channel is in the YouTube Partner Program, your content must comply with YouTube’s violent and graphic content Community Guidelines and the Shocking Content and Violence policies in the Advertiser-friendly content guidelines.

YouTube has a helpful guide to monetizing gaming content that has detailed information and examples of what can and cannot be monetized.

Ads may be limited if there is “graphic game violence” in the first 8-15 seconds of the video. “Graphic game violence” includes “brutal killings or severe injuries focusing on bodily fluids and parts such as beheadings and dismemberment”.

Videos will not earn ad revenue if:
  • It shows gameplay that is focused on violence and designed to be shocking
  • Graphic game violence in the thumbnail or first 7 seconds of the video.
  • Sexual violence
  • Violence motivated by hate or targeting protected groups
  • Graphic torture
  • Graphic violence against minors
  • Graphic violence aimed at real named persons
This is consistent with Google’s Publisher Policies that prohibit Google Ads from displaying with such content.

Learn More

YouTube Help: Violent or graphic content policies
YouTube Help: Advertiser-friendly content guidelines
YouTube Relaxes Profanity Prohibitions for Monitization
YouTube policy update: video game violence now treated like other scripted violence