Google will require proof of identity from all advertisers

  • >> Tiffany Hsu and Daisuke Wakabayashi, The New York Times
    Published: 2020-04-24 15:36:37 BdST

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File photo of a 3D printed Google logo in illustration taken Apr 12, 2020. REUTERS

In an effort to fight off fraudulent or misleading online ads, Google will require that all advertisers across its sprawling network prove who they are and where they operate, the company said in a blog post Thursday.

The names of the companies or people behind ads, as well as their countries of origin, will begin appearing on Google ads this summer, starting with several thousand advertisers a month in the United States before expanding worldwide. The measure, which could take years to implement, is designed as a defence against businesses and individuals who misrepresent themselves in paid online promotions, Google said.

The move comes as Google tries to tamp down misinformation and scams related to the coronavirus pandemic. It expands a 2018 verification policy focused on political advertisers serving election ads.

Broadening the policy will “help support the health of the digital advertising ecosystem by detecting bad actors and limiting their attempts to misrepresent themselves,” wrote John Canfield, who handles ad integrity for Google, in the blog post.

In the past, Google has cited predatory behaviour by companies that trumpet payday loans, bail-bonds services and third-party tech support, often banning ads outright. In September, Google said that it had taken down more than 3.2 billion ads that violated its advertising policies in a year, or more than 100 bad ads per second.

Under the new policy, Google will suspend the accounts of advertisers that do not provide proof of identity, including W9 forms, passports and other personal identification and business incorporation files. Previously, Google had requested basic information, like names, but did not require documentation.

“Who doesn’t want an internet that is more truthful, especially with the rise of fake news, fake businesses and fake face masks?” said Douglas Rozen, the chief media officer at the digital ad agency 360i. “The inevitability of this makes sense in today’s environment.”

Google intensified efforts to clean up ads after it was discovered that websites spreading false information about the 2016 presidential election were making money by selling ads through the company’s advertising networks.

© 2020 New York Times News Service