Google’s slowly lifting its ban on ads with addiction-related keywords and phrases, from facilities like California Rehab Center, after a ban which lasted for the better part of a year, aimed at cracking down on fraudulent providers cashing on vulnerable patients.
The ban was first rolled out in several stages starting in September of 2017 in the US, before going global later in January. It was brought about thanks to a series of reports that revealed that people seeking help for addictions were being traded like commodities and being sent to expensive ‘addiction centers’ that didn’t help them with their problems. At the time, Google said that it would retain ban until they could bring back ads both safely and ethically, and it took it some time. Any addiction-related ad words were prohibited entirely, which lead to its own issues.
For the problem, Google partnered with Portland’s Legit Script, a company that specializes in verifying the authenticity of medicine-related operations online, with a 15-point checklist to make sure that businesses are both licensed and compliant, properly list information, as well as demonstrating qualification and professionalism.
Recovery and addiction centers like California Rehab Center will go through the vetting, and only those who meet the strict regulations of LegitScript will be allowed to run addiction-related ads on Google.
Recovery Centers of America (RCA), which has several facilities across the US, is one of the first group of approved advertisers. RCA’s Director of Marketing Strategy and Operations, Grant McClernon says that the company support’s Google work, which aimed at dealing with the ‘lead aggregators’, and ensuring that the ads on their search engine were people who operated under proper scrutiny, providing actual treatment.
The original plan of Google was to greenlight about 30 facilities, of which provider like RCA might have either a few or several dozens, but they were reportedly swamped with applications and had to up the first group up to about 100 approvals. That number isn’t necessarily a rush by Google, but more like a realistic concession to the needs in the US, with the original target of 30 not being able to ensure at least one in every state.
Addiction treatment providers won’t be treated differently by Google, except that there will be an annual check-up from Legit Script to ensure that the facilities are still up to standards. Google has revealed, via a representative, that the ads should start running as soon as the companies who paid for them are properly verified, which could take time depending on their region and the keyword in their ads.