Important Updates to Google Ads
Google has always been committed to giving its users choice and control over the advertisements they see on any Google platform, as well as the ability to find out more about the advertisers themselves.
To this end, Google has offered tools like Ad Settings, so users can change and control how the ads they see are personalised, or even to opt out entirely from personalised ads. There’s also the “Why This Ad?” widget, which explains why a user is seeing a particular ad from a particular advertiser. If someone is in their early thirties and is looking for their first mortgage, for example, they may start to see adverts for home loan brokers and estate agents that are targeting this demographic.
The one thing that has been missing from personalised ads, however, is total transparency from all advertisers.
Political advertisers must already verify themselves
Back in 2018, Google launched a new verification policy for political advertisers. Any advertiser that wants to place or run election material on Google platforms must go through a verification process to confirm their identity. Once confirmed, Google will display this identity information within the advert so that users and viewers can find out more about the people behind it.
All advertisers will have to verify themselves soon
Since the verification programme started, Google has verified political advertisers in 30 countries and the company now plans to ask all advertisers using its platforms to verify themselves.
As part of the process, all advertisers will need to complete a verification process before they can buy advertising space on Google. The process involves submitting personal information of business owners or other key people, business incorporation documents (or similar) to prove that the company is legitimate and active, as well as other documents to prove which country or jurisdiction the business or entity operates in. From summer 2020, Google users will see more and more of these disclosures on and in the adverts they see.
Why the changes?
These important changes are part of a drive on the part of Google to maintain the security, health and trustworthiness of the digital advertising environment. By listing or linking to the advertiser identity disclosures, Google users can see who’s really behind each advert that they see. This knowledge will enable users to decide whether they want to see content from a specific advertiser or not, or even to report advertisers if they feel something is wrong, if they feel the advertiser is misrepresenting themselves or is even fraudulent.
The programme will roll out in the US first
Google will start off by verifying advertisers in the US in several phases, gradually rolling the programme out across the globe. The company is taking its time so that it can work as closely as possible with its advertisers and gather feedback from users in order to get the process right. In all, the process will take a few years to finish up.
More about the verification process
As Google is phasing its verification process across the globe gradually, it’ll prioritise some sectors and types of businesses before others. For example, advertisers of travel products, health services, financial advice or gambling services will be asked to verify earlier than, say, clothes retailers.
Once an advertiser is asked to verify, they have 30 days to submit all of the required documents and complete the process. If the advertiser fails to complete the verification within 30 days, their adverts won’t run until it’s finished. If the advertiser doesn’t meet Google’s requirements, they may no longer be able to run ads.
Running Shopping Ads through the Covid-19 crisis and beyond
In order to keep the small and medium-sized businesses that form the basis of the world’s economies going, Google is offering free selling to merchants and retailers. This move, which starts at the end of April, has been brought forward to help businesses and customers stay connected through the pandemic and beyond.
Many stores and sellers have had to temporarily close their physical branches due to the Covid-19 pandemic and so have turned to online selling to stay afloat. Similarly, consumers have turned to online shopping for essentials such as cleaning products, groceries and the like because they can’t visit the shops as easily as before. Unfortunately, many smaller enterprises don’t have the capital to run as many ads as they might need to in order to replace their in-store business. To help these retailers become more visible, Google is offering free ads for them on its Shopping tab, even if they’re not regular advertisers, so that consumers know where to turn to for their basics.