Google to block ads on ‘unapproved languages’ from Nov

Websites in languages such as Punjabi won’t be able to use Google’s ad networks

Google has announced that starting from November, it will stop serving ads under its various networks and platforms for all web pages and apps that are not in the list of 49 approved languages.

The list of 49 approved languages includes eight Indian languages — Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali, Gujarati and Marathi.

The move will block ad-serving on web pages in languages like Punjabi, Kashmiri, Assamese, Nepali, Sindhi, Sinhala and Santali.

The world’s largest ad network will also stop serving ads on pages “that do not contain content”, it added.

“On 9/30/2020, the Google Publisher Policies will be updated to prohibit monetization of web pages, sites or apps that are not primarily in one of our supported languages, or that do not contain content. From 10/30/2020, we will not allow new sites to be monetized using AdSense, Ad Manager or AdMob in unsupported languages or where they do not contain content. After 3/30/2021 we will not allow any sites in unsupported languages to be monetized using AdSense, Ad Manager or AdMob.”

It was not immediately apparent what the definition of ‘content’ was, and whether it would include things like embedded games, applications and so on.

The move is likely aimed at ensuring a more targeted delivery of audiences for Google’s advertisers.


However, the new policy, if implemented strictly, could be big blow for diversity of content online, while promoting big, established languages.

Lakhs, if not millions, of websites in excluded languages currently depend on Google’s ad networks to fund the creation of content, including news and entertainment.

While the use of such ad networks on the so-called unsupported language websites was never really halal, Google had not been very aggressive about blocking such sites out of the system.

Many such pages in such ‘unsupported languages’ help Google Adsense and other networks serve ads by including a summary of the content in a language that the bots understand — usually English.

Some of the languages that are in the excluded list are quite popular.

Punjabi, for example, is spoken by over 100 million people in places like India, Pakistan, Canada and the UK. The number of Punjabi speakers is 20 times higher than the number of people who speak Finnish, one of the languages in the supported list.

Sinhala, Nepali, Cambodian etc are also spoken by tens of millions.

It remains to be seen if there will still be ways for people creating content in such languages to get around the prohibition — for example, by making their web pages dual-lingual by having content in both English and another language.