Limited ads

We've introduced limited ads (LTD) to give publishers the ability to serve ads in a limited way in the absence of consent for the use of cookies or other local identifiers. This article outlines the limitations and supported features for Google’s limited ad serving solution.

Google’s limited ads solution doesn't rely on cookies or mobile identifiers, but does utilize data like IP addresses in the course of basic ad serving and does result in ad creatives being sent to, and in some instances cached on, devices.

If a publisher uses the IAB TCF v2.0 consent framework, we will attempt to serve an eligible limited ad when there is no consent for Purpose 1. Alternatively, a publisher can manually send us a signal through the API or a URL parameter (ltd=1), and we will similarly attempt to serve an eligible limited ad regardless of user location.

Cookie and local identifier usage

Limited ads disable all personalization and features that require use of a local identifier. This means the following features aren't available for limited ads: 

  • Any ads personalization
  • Audience targeting
  • Search lift measurement
  • Survey lift measurement
  • Remarketing 
  • Interest-based categories
  • Mobile carrier targeting
  • Bandwidth targeting
  • Features that rely on a local identifier, including:​​​​​
    • Conversion tracking metric
    • In-app conversion tracking
    • Unique reach measurement
    • “Mute This Ad”
    • Sequential creative rotation
    • Video creative rotation and storyboarding
    • Video ad rules and session ad rules
    • Frequency capping
    • Reporting on cookie reach, unique reach, or in-app conversions
    • Some invalid traffic detection
    • Certain data transfer fields, such as User ID, will be unavailable

Line items that utilize any of these features aren't eligible for limited ads.

Fraud-detection capabilities may be reduced for limited ads. We recommend publishers inform advertisers that spam-filtering capabilities may be reduced on traffic where there is no user consent for cookies.

Demand eligibility

The initial product offering will support reservations and mediation for web, app, and video in Ad Manager. Reservations and their creatives are associated with non-programmatic line items, including guaranteed (Sponsorship and Standard) and non-guaranteed (Network, Bulk, Price Priority, and House).

Programmatic demand is not eligible for limited ads. This includes Programmatic Guaranteed, Preferred Deals, Private Auction, Open Auction for Google demand and third-party demand, including Authorized Buyers and Open Bidding. Google demand as part of a mediation chain isn’t supported.

AdSense (AdSense for Search and AdSense for Content) is not supported and continues to require cookie consent to serve any ads.

Creative eligibility

Reservations

For publishers using the “Extend consent checking” feature, creative eligibility varies based on the following scenarios:

  1. Creatives are eligible for limited ads requests if the publisher hasn't declared any ad technology providers and Google hasn't detected any.
  2. Under TCF v2.0, creatives are only filtered if an unknown ad technology provider is detected or an ad technology provider is known to violate Google’s policy or lacks any legal basis under the framework.
When not using the “Extend consent checking” feature, all reservation creatives are eligible for serving. It is your responsibility as a publisher to ensure that your reservations have the necessary user consent to serve if consent is required.

Creative serving may pass along the consent string to third-party ad technology providers if the consent macros are used. Third-party ad technology providers are expected to respect consent signals, including whether the use of cookies or local identifiers is allowed.

Mediation

For mediation, there is no creative enforcement when non-personalized ads are enabled using Google’s EU User Consent tools and that same policy will be extended for LTD creatives served through mediation. Under TCF v2.0, all creatives in general are eligible, but similar to reservations, we check that ad technology providers and other programmatic demand sources don’t violate Google policy and have at least one legal basis for processing data.

Implementation

There are no new user interface controls to implement limited ads. Publishers can indicate on a per-request level whether limited ads treatment should be applied.

  • GPT for Web: Publisher can specify on the ad tag whether to explicitly trigger a limited ads request.
  • IMA SDK for Web and App: Publishers can explicitly trigger a limited ads request by adding ltd=1 to the ad tag URL.
  • GMA SDK: It is currently not possible to manually trigger limited ads requests through the GMA SDK.

At the end of the Google's TCF v2.0 grace period, for publishers using the IAB TCF v2.0, we will respect the cookie or ID consent signal (Purpose 1) contained in the TC string. Limited ads will be requested when consent for Purpose 1 is missing but legitimate interest or consent has been obtained for Purposes 2, 7, 9, and 10.

For limited ads requests, reporting will be unavailable for cookie reach, unique reach, and in-app conversions. Forecasting won’t recognize limited ads as a distinct serving mode and will provide a forecast that aggregates LTD traffic with NPA/Basic ads.
 
Reporting on impressions for limited ads is available using the Serving restriction dimension in Ad Manager reporting.

Action required for consent management platforms

Publishers using Funding Choices will be able to create and traffic consent messages with cookie opt-outs using the IAB TCF v2.0 once the framework becomes generally available.

Other IAB TCF v2.0 consent management platforms (CMPs) shouldn't need to take any action to support limited ads. The existing TC string contains all of the relevant signals required to select the correct serving mode. If the following conditions are met for Google as an ad technology provider, we will serve limited ads:

  • No consent for Purposes 1, 3, and 4
  • Legitimate interest or consent for Purposes 2, 7, 9, and 10

Custom consent tools will need to ask for cookie consent, and if the user declines, should use the new APIs to signal ID-less ads serving behavior.

The following ad serving modes will be available for publishers:

Ad serving mode Personalized ads Non-personalized ads Limited ads
Spam and fraud protection Supported Supported Not supported
Programmatic demand from Google Supported Supported Not supported
Programmatic demand from third-party buyers Supported Not supported Not supported
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