After many years of fostering a wild frontier of advertising opportunities, Google is implementing a system to rein in, control, and regulate it more. Its new verification policy requires that advertisers submit information about themselves and their businesses, such as their identity, location, and operation details. This information (or at least some of it) will then be accessible to viewers of ads, so they can understand more about the ads they are seeing and who is behind them. Since this is a big undertaking on Google’s part, they have made it a slow rollout instead of a single deadline for all businesses. It began requiring verification in selected accounts in 2021 and 2022 but is going much broader in 2023.
With verification, it appears that Google is following Meta’s lead a bit. Since Facebook rules permit only a single account login per human and that a business page be a mandatory component for all advertising, Meta has long offered transparency features so that viewers of ads can get information on the businesses behind them. While this doesn’t constitute an official verification of a business, some businesses are able to verify their business account (AKA “business manager”) with Meta by uploading documentation – but not all, for some reason, currently. Google, by comparison, has been very loose about ad accounts. They have allowed each person to create (practically) as many ad accounts as they want through as many logins as they want. For example, a person can easily create a whole bunch of free Gmail accounts and then create various Google Ads accounts through each of those logins – without uploading official documentation about who they are. That’s not to say they were completely loose on advertising policies. They simply did their policing on the inside, based on the campaign creation and account usage, rather than by login and account creation.
Keep in mind that this is a general verification that will apply to all Google advertisers, but other verifications will still be required for certain types of advertisers. For example, here are some types of advertising that have required special verifications and permissions in the past and will continue to:
- Election and politics
- Healthcare and medicines
How to get verified
The verification process begins in a Google Ads account by going to Tools and Settings> Billing> Advertiser Verification. Once the process is begun, advertisers have 30 days with which to complete it.
Here are the types of information that Google requires, although it may vary from one business to another:
Information about your business
The first step of verification involves answering questions about your business, such as:
- Whether your business is an advertising agency or not
- Why pays for your ads
- Whether you advertise your own products and/or services or someone else’s
- What industry you are in
Your answers to the questions in this section will determine what requirements are involved in the next steps of verification.
Verifying your identity
To verify your identity, you may be asked to verify your legal name and the legal name of your organization (or your client’s organization if you work for an agency). This verification must be completed by an authorized representative, who is an admin of the Google Ads account and/or the payments profile paying for the ads.
Google will then display a disclosure on any ads you run that show your name and location.
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Checking your verification status
To see your verification status, click Tools and Settings> Billing> Advertiser Verification.
What users see
Through search, display, YouTube, and other Google ad channels, users can click an “About this ad” link to see information on why particular ads are being shown. This disclosure might include the name and location of the registration of the advertiser that was provided during verification.
Here’s how the disclosures look on different platforms:
Search ads (on desktop) — Users can click the 3-dot icon that shows with search ads.
Search ads (on mobile) — Users can click the “i” icon.
Display ads — Users can click one of the small icons that show at the bottom of the ad.
YouTube — Users can click the 3-dot icon or the “i” icon
From the ad disclosure, a user can click “See more ads by this advertiser,” which will direct them to the Advertiser Page, where they can see all the approved ads run by that advertiser over the past 30 days.
If you’ve been using Google Ads for many years, there’s one thing you know for sure: Things change! The changes are not always easy to roll with, but there is often no choice. Required verification is certainly in that category. Undoubtedly, it will disrupt marketing agencies and businesses of all sizes. It will also impact Google’s business since advertising will be decreased as some businesses struggle or drag their feet for verification. Overall, though, verification will help make a better and safer Internet for all of us. Personally, I’m surprised that it wasn’t implemented years earlier.
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