It can be hard to keep up with all of the changes Google announces, but if you have an active Google Ads account, pay attention: This one comes with action items!
Google recently dropped the news that all advertisers using the Google Ads platform will soon be required to complete a 2-step identity verification process, and its phased plan starting in the US is already underway.
If an agency like Uptick is managing your Google ads, you’re in luck: Most will have no problem completing this process for you. If your Google ads are managed internally, here’s what to make sure your team is prepared for.
Once Google Notifies You, You Have Just 30 Days
When it’s time for your account to complete the advertiser verification process, you’ll be notified 2 ways: by email, and by an in-platform notification when logged in. So you’ll want to make sure…
- that you know which email address is set to receive primary account notices for your Google Ads account,
- that someone is regularly checking that account, and
- that someone is actively logging into the account (hopefully a given!).
We mention this because it may be trickier than it sounds! Many accounts we come across are attached to old or rarely-used company emails that people have long since forgotten to update. Now is the time to make sure you know that someone empowered to act is getting all notifications.
How Likely Is It You’ll Be in the First Phase? (Hint: As Far As We Can Tell, Very!)
We know a few things about how Google will be prioritizing accounts for advertiser verification, but the criteria is pretty broad. The first accounts to be flagged for verification will be US-based and related to the following business categories:
- Retail, B2B services, Technology, Travel — any promotion of products or services
- Charities, resources — informational, advisory, educational content
- Regulated industries — gambling/games, healthcare & financial services
There aren’t a lot of industries that can’t be encompassed by this list! So we recommend getting ready to respond to Google’s request as soon as you can.
How Google’s Advertiser Verification Works
Step 1: Organization Verification
Once you’ve been asked to provide verification to Google, you’ll need to get some documents together to verify the identity of your organization. A W-9 is acceptable here, or any IRS document which includes your organization’s legal name, legal address, and EIN.
When you get ready to send the form, be sure to enter your company name to match the exact legal name — no DBA names or abbreviations. Google will be checking this against your document, and it will be important later for ads transparency disclosures.
Step 2: Authorized Representative Verification
If everything submitted looks good, you should hear back from a Google representative within 3-5 days to start the next and final step of the process: authorized representative identity verification. Basically, this will be the person you have authorized to manage your Google Ads account, whether that’s an internal team member, an agency, or another third-party you trust.
Advertisers who are authorized representatives will need to submit personal identification documents to Google, such as a driver’s license or passport, and they will also need to go through a series of questions in the account with a Google representative to become verified. Part of this will involve a review of your account’s authorized payments administrators, so it may be helpful to check your settings ahead of time to be sure you don’t want to make any changes. If any updates are made to the payment profile access settings after you’ve completed verification, you may have to go through an additional round of verification later.
Wait. Additional Verifications?
That’s right, you caught it: From this moment forward, advertiser verification will be required on any new Google Ads accounts, and any major changes to who manages your accounts will likely trigger a new verification process. It may sound like a hassle, but it’s the latest in a string of preventative measures Google’s been implementing to dissuade bad-actor advertisers with misleading ads, and we should expect more updates and details to emerge as Google continues to refine the process.
What Else Do We Know About the Verification Process?
This new process is more than just extra paperwork. It’s an ambitious plan that grew out of a limited advertiser verification program that started in 2018 just for accounts running political ads. Since then, Google has been under increasing pressure to verify that advertisers are who they say they are and that the platform is not being used to spread false information. (Tip: don’t do that! Advertise with integrity.) For most accounts, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Starting this summer, you may also begin to see a new small arrow appear at the top of ads in search results and on the Display Network. If you right-click that arrow, an information box will appear with an option to see more about the ad. If a user clicks “About the advertiser” on one of your ads, it will then show your legal business name and country in which you’re doing business for advertiser transparency.
These new changes are not the first that Google has implemented to curb abuses of its platform, and we don’t expect it to be the last. Google reportedly took down more than 3.2 billion ads that violated its advertising policies in 2019 alone, or more than 100 per second. More intense scrutiny along with high-profile bad actors have driven Google to further refine its policies, AI, and internal infrastructure for compliance checks.
And Google’s not the only tech giant feeling the pressure. This year, Facebook announced it would be requiring verification from all advertisers who plan to run political or social issue ads. They’ve also instituted a “Page Transparency” tab for all businesses where users can see basic information about the business and their ads. Twitter launched its own ads transparency center in 2018, and this year even Reddit will be requiring political advertisers to submit proof of identity.
The digital ads space is going through a transparency sea change that won’t be over anytime soon — even Google admits as much, acknowledging that its new verification process could take years to fully implement worldwide. But for advertisers, the time to get your accounts in order is right now.
Not sure how to put a plan in place for your company’s Google Ads verification process? Get in touch.