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Google adds booze ads--with limits

Search ads now can promote hard liquor in the U.S.--but only indirectly, for example with Web pages with recipes.

As part of an effort to wring more money out of its online activities, Google has begun permitting text advertisements for some hard liquor in the United States.

"This fall, we changed our policy around beer, for the first time allowing advertisements of its sale in the U.S. via AdWords. And starting today, in response to advertiser feedback we've received over the years, we'll permit the advertisement of hard alcohol and liqueurs that target the U.S.," said Amanda Kelly of Google's AdWords team in a blog post Monday.

Google started permitting ads for beer, wine, and champagne in October. There's a difference in how the company treats hard-liquor ads, though: the hard-liquor ads can't be so direct:

"To comply with the updated hard alcohol and liqueurs policy, advertisers must promote the information about hard alcohol and liqueurs that their websites contain, such as recipes and brand messages. Ads that directly promote the sale of hard alcohol and liqueurs are still not permissible through our program. In contrast, advertisements for beer may directly promote its sale," Kelly said.

Another limit concerns who exactly can see the ads. According to Google's ad policy regarding alcohol, all such ads are marked as non-family safe, which affects how the ad is delivered.

The company plans to expand the ads to other countries gradually, she added.