Google Refuses Payday Loan Ads

John Lister's picture

Google is to refuse to carry advertising for payday loans companies. It's the biggest such ban for something other than illegal activity or matters of taste.

The ban will apply to all Google's advertising systems. That includes both the ads that appear alongside search results and the ads that are placed by Google for clients on third party websites. The move however will not stop payday loan companies showing up in search results.

Google has defined the affected ads as ones for loans where the repayment is due within 60 days of taking out the loan. While this will apply worldwide, a separate ban on loans with an annual percentage rate of more than 35 percent will only apply where the ad would be displayed to people in the US.

800 Million Ads Refused Each Year

According to Google, the company already disables nearly 800 million ads each year because they breach its guidelines. This includes ads for content in four categories: counterfeit goods; dangerous products and services; products that aid in or promote dishonest behavior; and inappropriate or offensive content.

While many of the existing restrictions cover illegally sold goods, the restrictions for legal products and services are somewhat inconsistent. For example, tobacco ads are banned completely on the grounds that they are harmful, but ads for alcohol are allowed but can't be targeted at children, promote binge drinking, or portray drinking in a dangerous situation such as driving or operating machinery. (Source:

Payday Loans 'Harmful'

Google's David Graff says the payday loans ads ban is on the basis of research showing such loans "can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates" and that for this reason the company classes them as a harmful financial product. (Source:

The move has prompted debate. Supporters of Google's decision are praising it for refusing to profit from such loans and taking a stance on predatory lending. Critics say that as such loans aren't inherently illegal in most cases, and Google should not discriminate against providers.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you welcome Google's decision to ban payday loans ads? Should it be free to accept or reject ads as it sees fit, and does it have a social responsibility to act in a certain way? Or does its dominance of the online ad market mean it has a duty to allow equal access to all companies which are following the law?

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Dennis Faas's picture

The ads that I can't stand are the ones that promote some sort of insane money making scheme, and thankfully I haven't seen those type of ads from Google in a while. That hasn't stopped other ad networks from displaying them, such as Facebook, however.

Other ads I can't stand are the ones that suggest "1 simple trick to lose 50 pounds in 2 weeks," etc. Those ads are completely dishonest and any time I come across a website that is affiliated with such ads, I exit the page immediately. Usually sites displaying such ads have content that is equally trustworthy.

You may notice we don't have too many ads on this site as it is (a grand total of 3 per page), and the only ones we have are from Google - for a reason.

dan400man's picture

I learned a long time ago that certain words and phrases are triggers for click-baiting crap.

weird trick
simple trick
you won't believe

To my selfish mind, I almost hope the masses don't figure this out, so that I don't need to learn new click-bait triggers as they replace the old, worn ones.

Re the "Stay at home mom makes $46,000/hr" replies on FB-powered comments: I wish people wouldn't angrily reply to these; the posters of these never see them. Instead, use the drop-down menu on the right-top edge of the spam comment to mark it as spam. Once I do that, it immediately disappears from the comments I see. I wonder how many need to do that before it disappears from everyone's view.

Syscob Support's picture

In the 50s any loan with interest rates above 10% per annum was deemed “usury” and many states banned them. We need a consistent federal law making any loan above a threshold to be a criminal offense subject to federal criminal terms. 25% sound good, Google's 35% is a bit high, but better than nothing.

doulosg's picture

Sometimes they are the only way for a borrower to obtain short term funds. And just how bad is a 35% loan repayable in 60 days?

With $1000 borrowed today, at 35%, the annualized interest would be $350. This is pretty steep.
But the loan is not due in a year, but in 60 days. That $350, divided by 365 days is $.959 per day, or $57.53 at 60 days. In two months, the $1000 loan needs to be repaid at $1057.53. You decide how bad that is.

There is a cost to money, and a cost to time as well. And, yes, there is a downside if you don't have either.

(The computation is usually done the other way: $1000 at 5% = $50 interest. $50 divided by 60 days = $.8333/day. $.8333 * 365 annualizes the interest to $304.16. As a rate, $304.16 / $1000 = .304, or 30.4%.)

David's picture

The problem is that most people who are in such dire need to take out one of these loans have an incredibly difficult time repaying them. If you are barely managing payday to payday, to have to come up with the payoff within 60 days is nearly impossible. If they can pay a bit on the loan, good, but most have to rollover the remainder, + a rollover fee, + more interest... Again and again and again. Loan sharks may break your legs, but these businesses can break your spirit with never-ending, ever-increasing debt.

matt_2058's picture

I have noticed this site doesn't have many ads, and it's part of the reason I keep coming back. All those dishonest ads should fall under some Truth-in-Advertising law...we have so many laws there's got to be one to apply to outrageous claims.

Google deciding not to provide a service to a particular customer or group is their right, no matter who it is. It's their company to run the way they want. It's a business decision.

rwells78's picture

"It's their company to run the way they want <as long as the decision is PC>. It's a business decision."

gmthomas44_4203's picture

It's OK for Google to refuse service to a legal advertiser, but Heaven forbid(insert pun here)someone refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple. Oh, the humanity!

Chief's picture

Thank you dan400man for reminding how to get rid of unwanted ads. I generally just ignore them but they are annoying and seem to proliferate without periodic eradication.

Also, gmthomas44_4203: you are |correct|.

My business is my business and that is my business.
No Shirt. No Shoes. No Service.
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