In an attempt to counter fake or misleading online ads, Google would require all marketers in its vast network to prove who they are and where they are operating, the company said Thursday in a blog post.
The names of the businesses or individuals behind advertisements, as well as their countries of origin, will start featuring on Google advertisements this summer, beginning with several thousand marketers a month in the U.S. and expanding globally. The measure, which may take years to enforce, is designed as a protection against corporations and individuals who misrepresent themselves in paid online advertisements, Google said.
The move comes as Google seeks to tone down rumours and coronavirus pandemic related scams. It extends a verification strategy from 2018 with an emphasis on political advertisers serving election ads.
Expanding the policy would “help improve the health of the digital advertisement ecosystem by identifying bad actors and restricting their efforts to misrepresent themselves,” John Canfield, who manages Google’s ad integrity, wrote in the blog post.
Google in the past has reported unethical actions by companies who sell payday loans, bail-bonds services and software support by third parties, sometimes banning ads outright. Google said in September it pulled down more than 3.2 billion ads that abused its advertisement policies in a year or more than 100 bad advertisements per second.
With the new policy, Google will revoke marketers’ accounts that do not have proof of identification, including W9 forms, passports, and other personal identification and incorporating business files. Google had previously demanded basic information, such as names, which didn’t include documentation.
“Who doesn’t want a clearer internet, especially with the growth of fake news, fake businesses and fake face masks?
“The chief marketing officer at digital ad agency 360i, Douglas Rozen, said. “In today’s world, the inevitability of this makes sense.”
As regulators seek to fight back unsupported arguments regarding handling coronavirus, and as troll farms are preparing to impact the 2020 election, tech companies are beefing up their defences. This month Reddit revised its policies on political ads to allow marketers to give their sales team proof of identity.
Google stepped up attempts to clean up advertisements after websites sharing misleading facts regarding the 2016 presidential election were found to raise revenue through selling ads via the company’s advertisement networks.
Google kicked off hundreds of publishers from the AdSense advertisement system in late 2016. Two years later election campaigns had to verify their identities before authorizing them to buy campaign advertisements. The move came after Google revealed to Congress that it had received nearly $5,000 in ads from the Internet Research Agency, a Russian corporation accused of meddling in the campaign, during the election cycle.
For 99% of advertisers, it shouldn’t be a problem, “People who are maybe doing anything unscrupulous will only find it challenging”, said Jared Moré, a digital marketing consultant.