In the modern world, one of the most effective ways of advertising is through the Google search engine. Billions of people use it daily and, through its unique marketing features, anyone who types in a term can see related ads that accompany it. But now, the web giant is aiming to heavily regulate all of the paid treatment messages you see, due to some high-profile scams happening in our industry.
Apparently, it was a 2017 article from TheVerge.com that spurred this recent decision. In the piece, writer Cat Ferguson profiled a series of crooked recovery ads that began appearing during “recovery” Google searches. This, in turn, led to people getting scammed out of savings and receiving less than satisfactory treatment.
Google’s immediate reaction was to ban the majority of treatment ads (including legitimate ones) throughout its search engine. This began happening late last year in the U.S., followed by similar actions this January in the U.K. This week, however, they announced an update to this policy and a new partnership with the Oregon-based certification program LegitScript.
Via LegitScript, Google will now be able to, in their own terms, “vet” addiction treatment centers and differentiate legitimate practices from those it deems as unsatisfactory. LegitScript announced that they will assess facilities based on 15 criteria; including criminal background checks, license verifications and insurance check ups. The company also claims that all advertisers will have to provide “written policies and procedures demonstrating a commitment to best practices.”
Google senior product director David Graff spoke out publicly about the partnership, highlighting the importance of proper advertiser vetting (particularly when it comes to addiction recovery).
“We work to help healthcare providers — from doctors to hospitals and treatment centers — get online and connect with people who need their help,” Graff said in a press release. “Substance abuse is a growing crisis and has led to deceptive practices by bad actors. This is a complex issue but we believe our partnership with LegitScript is a great first step in the US to help better connect people with the treatment they need.”
We, for one, agree with the move and applaud Google for getting a policy in place when recovery clinics choose to advertise. That being said, we are also glad that all previous bans have been lifted because for all of the bad practices that exist, there are plenty of legitimate ones willing to offer help and support.