Google Now Expanding Ad Verification Program To All Advertisers
Google has announced a dramatic ramp-up in red tape for advertisers as it struggles to get to grips with scams, fraud and bad actors on its platform.
As part of its new initiative, advertisers will be required to complete a verification program in order to buy ads on the Google network.
Advertisers will need to submit personal identification, business incorporation documents or other information that proves who they are and the country in which they operate.
The scale of such as undertaking for the millions of organisations on the platform globally and the myriad of ad agencies that operate ads on behalf of clients means it will not be a speedy or seamless process.
For example, anyone who has ever gone through the process of establishing Google My Business accounts will know it ranges from the cumbersome to shattering one's hopes and dreams.
John Canfield, Google Director of Product Management, Ads Integrity
"We will start by verifying advertisers in phases in the U.S. and continue to expand globally. Because we are working closely with our advertising partners to scale the program while continuing to ensure we are surfacing helpful information to our users, we expect that this process will take a few years to complete."
The new verification procedures will initially kick off in the U.S. in the next few months, ahead of a global rollout.
Google Ad Verification Process & Roll-out
The new ad verification procedures build out Google's existing political ad transparency policies, which are currently live in 30 markets.
In 2018, Google announced a new identity verification policy for political advertisers. The policy requires all advertisers that want to run election ads on Google platforms go through a verification program to confirm their identity. Google then displays that identity in the ad unit so that users can learn more about the election ads they see.
As part of the new phased rollout, certain advertisers may be selected to complete this verification program first. Those who meet one of the below example criteria may be prioritised as Google expands this requirement across its Ad network:
- Promotion of products, goods, and services.
- Examples: Retail, media and entertainment, travel, B2B, technology, etc.
- Promotion of informational, advisory, or educational content.
- Examples: Content promoting educational resources, research and statistics, free health or financial advice, charitable or social causes, etc.
- Promotion of content related to regulated industries.
- Examples: Gambling and games, financial products or services, healthcare products or services etc.
Advertisers who are required to complete advertiser identity verification will be notified and given 30 days to submit documentation.
Once you submit your documentation, you must complete the program within 30 days, or your ads will stop serving. Multiple failed attempts to complete the verification program will result in your ads not serving.
Once verified, an advertiser's details will display in the following ways:
- On Google Search, the disclosure will show in "About this advertiser"
- On YouTube, the disclosure will show in “Why this ad?” which can be accessed through the info icon or the 3-dot icon
- On websites and apps that partner with Google for display ads, the disclosure will show in “Why this ad?” which can be accessed through the AdChoices icon
Facebook's New Transparency Measures
The motivations behind Google's latest ad update impact the remainder of the digital ad ecosystem, most notably Facebook.
Facebook's problems with allowing fake news and disinformation on its platform are well documented, so while it does have some transparency features in place, they are somewhat token by comparison.
Fourteen years after launching, in 2018, it started giving people more context about Facebook Pages, including the primary country location of the people who manage a Page.
Similarly, it launched About this Account on Instagram, but both features are hardly prominent, or intuitive to the billions of users who rely on the platforms.
In an attempt to bring platform transparency to more practical level, Facebook announced last week that it was going to provide the location of high-reach Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts on every post they share.
Anita Joseph, Product Manager, Facebook & Georgina Sheedy-Collier, Product Manager, Instagram
"We're piloting this feature in the U.S., starting specifically with Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts that are based outside the U.S. but reach large audiences based primarily in the U.S.
We're also exploring ways to bring this transparency to more places, such as Facebook Pages and Instagram Profiles."
Inevitably, as Google continues to up the ante in this space, expect Facebook et al. to follow suit.
With the 2020 U.S. federal election on the horizon later this year, and a calculated fake news pandemic exacerbating the COVID-19 pandemic, the timing for these measures could not be more timely.
In fact, they are about 15 years overdue but better late than never.