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Google announces tightened measures for financial advertisers in the UK

Google are updating their Google Ads Financial Products and Services policy, with the update coming into force on 30 August, 2021. This update requires anyone working in financial advertising to prove that they are authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). There are a few exemptions, you can read more about these later on.

The update of the Google Ads Financial Products and Services policy is part of Googles’ ongoing commitment to tackle financial fraud. Google says:

“Our goal is to improve trust in the ads ecosystem by providing users with more information about advertisers. This is part of our larger effort to increase transparency, choice and control to users.”

 It will introduce new certification requirements for financial services advertisers targeting UK audiences.

Who does the Google Ads Financial Products and Services update apply to?

 If you are a:

  • Financial services advertiser (FCA-authorised advertisers)
  • Digital marketers/agencies who manage ads on behalf of financial service companies, (Approved third parties)
  • Advertisers who do not promote financial services, but that have a compelling reason to target users who appear to be seeking financial services. (Examples include: search engines, eCommerce platforms)

You must complete the updated verification process before enforcement starts a week later on 6 September, 2021. Failure to complete the verification process means you will no longer be able to show financial services ads to UK users.

How long does the advertiser identity verification take?

Google states that they expect the process to take between 3-5 working days to complete. Though they do caveat this with the fact that it depends on your account set-up and the number of accounts you run.

What if I run financial advertising accounts for my clients?

If you’re a digital marketing freelancer or digital marketing agency we’d recommend you start the verification process now. To continue showing your clients ads you must complete the process by September 6, 2021.

You’ll need to submit a separate verification form for each ad account you manage (so keep that copy + paste notepad open!). And though Google don’t specify it, the verification process does require personal identification. We read this as:

Verification required for each client account multiplied by each team member.

So you do the maths?

You can start the process now, read this for further information on the UK Financial Services Verification process. Google have also provided a list of frequently asked questions about the process.

“Today’s announcement reflects significant progress in delivering a safer experience for users, publishers and advertisers. While we understand that this policy update will impact a range of advertisers in the financial services space, our utmost priority is to keep users safe on our platforms — particularly in an area so disproportionately targeted by fraudsters,” Ronan Harris, Vice President and MD, Google UK & Ireland

Who is exempt from the Google Ads Financial Products and Services update?

Google have stated that adverts relating to categories including:

  • Debt Services
  • Gambling
  • Credit repair
  • Cryptocurrencies

will not class as financial services for the purposes of the Google Ads Financial Products and Services policy update. However you will need to continue to adhere to Google’s other ad policies.

What happens if I don’t complete the financial advertising verification process by September 6, 2021?

Google have said that your account will not be immediately suspended. Instead they will issue a warning, at least 7 days, before any account suspension. If you still fail to complete verification then your account will no longer be able to show financial services related ads.

I’m a financial services company marketer, what should I be doing?

It depends on how you run your Google ads: 

  • In-house: You and your team members will need to apply for verification
  • Use an external agency:
  • Check with them today that they are a) aware of this update (we sure hope so! If not feel free to give us a call
  • Ensure they are on the ball with submitting their verification so your ads are not halted

Want further help or advice on your Google Ads?

If you’re running Google Ads and are concerned about this update, or the way your agency are handling your paid advertising account, then please reach out today. We can discuss your goals, needs and pain points – and having worked in financial services client side – we know many of the pain points!

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