Understanding Google’s New Identity Verification Policy for Advertisers

Back in 2018, Google rolled out an identity verification policy for political advertisers. The goal of this policy was to increase transparency and provide users with information about the entities behind political ads. Now, Google is proceeding to expand this policy beyond the world of political ads, eventually reaching all advertisers on the company’s platforms.

While this process won’t be completed any time soon, Google has already begun scaling the program to include advertisers that promote content related to certain industries. In order to avoid disruptions to your advertisements and the possible suspension of your account, it’s important to understand Google’s verification requirements and the timeframe within which you must submit required documents.

What is the Purpose of the New Policy?

The main aim behind Google’s push to increase the transparency of ads is to equip consumers with the knowledge to make more informed decisions. Google already gives users a level of control over the ads they’re shown, including the option to opt out of personalized ads and the “Why this ad?” feature detailing the reasons specific ads are displayed. 

By verifying the identity of advertisers and ensuring consumers have access to this information, Google is making digital advertising more trustworthy. These steps will also help the company weed out bad actors and limit misleading content across multiple platforms.

Who will the Policy Affect?

As part of the phased rollout of this policy, Google will prioritize advertisers representing specific industries and types of content. Those whose advertisements promote one of the following categories will be selected to proceed with the verification process first:

  • Products, goods, or services related to retail, media, entertainment, technology, travel, B2B, and similar fields
  • Content of an informational, advisory, or educational nature, including educational resources and free guidance in the areas of health and finance
  • Content related to regulated industries such as gambling, finance, and healthcare

The full rollout will likely take years to complete on a global scale. That being said, this policy will ultimately impact all advertisers on Google’s platforms. 

What Types of Verification will be Required?

Personal or Business Incorporation Verification

A number of documents will be required to complete the verification program. Advertisers must submit personal identification, business incorporation materials, or other documents proving their identity and location of operation. 

For organizations, these materials could include registration documents such as a W9 form or a letter issued by the IRS containing identifying details. Organizations also have the option of providing their Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Some form of photo identification must be submitted during the verification process. The photo ID must be issued by the US government in order to be accepted. Options include:

  • Passport
  • State ID
  • Driver’s license
  • Permanent residence card
  • Green card

If asked to provide this type of verification, you will be given 30 days to submit any requested documents. Your submission will then be reviewed and an additional 30 days will be given if additional verification steps are needed. If you fail to successfully complete the verification process, your account will be paused.

Audit of Business Operations Verification

Google could also request an audit of your business operations through the identity verification program. Advertisers who have been flagged for unclear advertising behavior or potentially misleading content may be especially likely to be asked to conduct this level of verification. Those whose accounts have been suspended will also be required to have their business operations verified, and suspension will not be reversed until all steps of the program have been successfully completed.

Business operations verification could include inquiries related to your:

  • Business model
  • Business registration
  • Types of services offered
  • Business practices
  • Relationships with brands or third parties

Advertisers will be notified of their need to undergo business operations verification and will then have 21 days to submit the verification form and relevant documents. If they fail to submit their documentation within that 21-day window, they’ll have a 7-day warning before their ads are suspended. Likewise, advertisers who submit verification but do not meet the requirements of the program will have a 7-day notice period preceding the suspension of their account.

How will the Policy Change the User Experience?

This new policy should improve both the experience of consumers and the overall health of the digital advertising ecosystem. When the policy is rolled out, advertisements on Google’s platforms will include disclosures about the identity of the advertiser, specifically the advertiser’s trademarked or legal name and country of operation. After viewing these identifying details, users will have the option to block future ads from the advertiser in question. In addition to personalizing the user experience, these new features give users a better understanding of the organizations and individuals behind the advertisements they’re being shown.

As Google takes steps to broaden their identity verification policy, the company is adding an extra dimension to the ad experience and making crucial details easily accessible for all users. By ensuring the availability of this information, Google is increasing the transparency of ads and paving the way for a more trustworthy digital environment.

If you are a Qiigo client and have questions about complying with this new policy, reach out to your Account Manager to discuss these changes.