Google Talks About Vetting Process For Drug Rehab Ads
Google resumed accepting ads from programs and companies like Drug Dependency Rehab back in July, nearly a year after its Alphabet Inc. unit suspended these operations thanks to issues regarding advertisers for numerous deceptive and misleading ads from the addiction treatment ads.
Google’s new vetting process has treatment centers and their ads undergo vetting by the Portland, Oregon firm, Legit Script, before being displayed on Google’s pages and ad slots.
Interest in treatment for the abuse of opioids and other prescription medication, as well as treatments like Drug Dependency Rehab, have spiked in recent years thanks to the opioid crisis plaguing the US, which authorities have described as a nationwide epidemic.
Scammers took advantage of Google ads, as the online platform was an easy way to defraud people looking for treatment and help, in an industry where, authorities and patient advocacy organizations have described as varying greatly by jurisdiction.
Google suspended all ads related to alcohol and drug treatment, including those from facilities like Drug Dependency Rehab, in the US back in September of 2017, a week following The Verge’s published its piece on online advertisement scams. Google then followed up by expanding the prohibition globally by January.
According to research firm Kantar Media, that prohibition cut off at least $78 million worth of annual revenue from advertising in the US alone.
Most advertisers could buy ads through Google with little hurdles to clear, but now, Google has additional vetting processes that drug makers and online pharmacies have to go, as well as garage door-repairers and locksmiths. Google has also said that it will start demanding more documentation from political advertisers later in 2018.
The rules for addiction treatment advertising apply to in-person facilities, crisis hotlines as well as support groups.
Legit Script started evaluating providers back in March, with the vetting process having 15 criteria, including criminal background checks as well as license and insurance verification. Applying advertisers also have to provide written policies and procedures which show their commitment to best practices, effective patient recovery and improvement, LegitScript says, who charges $995 upfront and then an additional $1,995 annually for vetting.
Organizations like the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers have thrown their support for the new standards. Legit Script is fully aware of the frustration that might stem from the additional loopholes, but states that regulations and improvements are needed if the market is to get clean and give people the care that they need and deserve.