Google expands ads verification program to tackle financial scams

Google is expanding a verification program for financial services ads that it launched in the U.K. last summer after seeing what it describes as a “pronounced decline” in reports of ads promoting financial scams.

First in line to get the requirement, as part of a phased expansion of the policy, are Australia, Singapore and Taiwan. But Google says it plans to further expand the verification requirements to advertisers in additional countries and regions “in the coming months.”

The verification layer sits atop Google’s financial products and services policy — looping in a local financial regulator that advertisers must demonstrate they are authorized by in order to have their financial services ads accepted by Google — thereby adding a layer of security against the adtech giant accepting and running ads for crypto investment scams and the like.

In the U.K. the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the regulatory body that financial services advertisers must demonstrate they are authorized by. Equivalent oversight bodies will come into play in the three new markets.

Google said advertisers wanting to promote financial products and services in these markets will be able to apply for verification at the end of June — with the policy slated to go into effect on August 30, 2022.

“Advertisers that have not completed the new verification process by this date will no longer be allowed to promote financial services,” it warns in a blog post penned by Alejandro Borgia, a Google director of ads privacy and safety.

“We work tirelessly to make sure the ads we serve are safe and trustworthy, and we know that partnering and collaborating with government regulators is critical to our success. That’s why we’re closely coordinating with regulators in these three markets to make sure this program is effective at scale,” he added.

Google hasn’t offered any data to back up its claim that the policy change has led to a substantial decline in reports of financial scam ads in the U.K. market — offering only an overall (global) figure for ads that it blocked or removed in 2021 (58.9 million) for violating its financial services policies, culled from its 2021 Ads Safety Report.

Prior to launching the financial ads verification policy in the U.K., Google had been under pressure from the FCA to tackle scams — with the regulator threatening legal action if Google continued to accept unscreened financial ads.