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YouTube bans masthead ads for politics, alcohol and bets

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FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of laptop and mobile device users next to a screen projection of the YouTube logo in this picture illustration
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By Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's YouTube will no longer allow political or election ads in its coveted masthead spot at the top of the site's homepage nor ads for alcohol, gambling and prescription drugs, it said on Monday.

In an email to advertisers, seen by Reuters, YouTube said the change built on its move last year to retire all full-day masthead ads. It said it has retired these full-day reservations, like the one then-President Donald Trump reserved to dominate its homepage on Election Day 2020, and replaced them with more targeted formats.

"We regularly review our advertising requirements to ensure they balance the needs of both advertisers and users," a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "We believe this update will build on changes we made last year to the masthead reservation process and will lead to a better experience for users," they added.

Google said that the change to its most prominent ad unit, which was first reported by Axios, was effective immediately.

Google paused political ads altogether around the U.S. presidential election and again ahead of President Joe Biden's inauguration in January this year, citing its policy over sensitive events.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford, Editing by Howard Goller)