As promised last month, Google has introduced a new certification process for rehabilitation and addiction treatment facilities, per a Reuters report earlier today.
The advertising behemoth began gradually limiting advertising for the addiction treatment center category in the US in September of 2017, and by January of this year had removed all rehab facility ads in the US and UK.
We reached out to Google for comment and to understand how this change would be implemented. A Google spokesperson confirmed the news and when asked about how this certification would be managed, said it would be a two-step process:
- Starting today, addiction treatment providers can contact LegitScript and fill out an application to be certified.
- Starting in July 2018, LegitScript legitimate certified addiction treatment providers can request certification with Google through a form that we will publish.
The spokesperson added, “After the two certifications, those advertisers can then advertise on all AdWords channels. This is the same process that our healthcare pharmaceutical certified advertisers follow.”
The previous suspension of these ads was the result of this category being ripe for exploitation by spammers and third-party middlemen — such as lead generation providers who were falsely advertising services that they did not offer and then, for a fee or “kickback,” passing the resulting lead on to treatment centers.
Google’s decision to partner with LegitScript, a verification and monitoring service that online pharmacies utilize — and implement a two-step certification process — will make it much harder for third-party, non-service providers to exploit Google’s ad ecosystem. It will also be more expensive. From the Reuters article:
LegitScript will evaluate treatment providers beginning Monday on 15 criteria, including criminal background checks and license and insurance verification. They must also provide “written policies and procedures demonstrating a commitment to best practices, effective recovery and continuous improvement,” according to LegitScript, which will charge $995 upfront and then $1,995 annually for vetting.
We asked Google if it might also be considering a similar method for allowing medical marijuana or other legal cannabis providers a similar mechanism for marketing via the platform. According to the spokesperson, however, there is no such change on the horizon. “We don’t allow marijuana ads because the product is illegal on the federal level. We follow advertising regulations for healthcare and medicine so we expect that ads and destinations follow appropriate laws and industry standards.”