Google plans strict vetting process for addiction center ads

Earlier this year, Google temporarily banned advertisements for drug addiction treatment centers due to "deceptive practices." Now, months later, the company is back with a solution to the problem: it'll review the ads before they're allowed to go live. The ban on addiction center ads will be lifted in July, and company LegitScript will be responsible for vetting the ads before they go live.

The issue started around last summer when The Verge published a report highlighting shady addiction/rehab center advertisements targeted at drug users and alcoholics. Google partially suspended the advertisements soon after, expanding the ban globally earlier this year. At the heart of the matter are deceptive treatment centers and referral services that may have less than honorable intentions.

According to Reuters, Google has been working behind the scenes on a way to deal with this problem without forever banning these advertisements. The solution, at least for now, will be a review by LegitScript and more red tape to deal with on the buyer's end. While the additional requirements may frustrate some companies hoping to list these advertisements, they'll hopefully eliminate ads that may result in a vulnerable person being taken advantage of.

As part of the requirements, these ad buyers will be evaluated on 15 criteria, including things like having their insurance/license verified and undergoing criminal background checks. The treatment centers will likewise need to offer written procedures and policies that show "a commitment to best practices, effective recovery and continuous improvement," the report claims.

The requirements will be applied to support groups, in-person facilities, and crisis hotlines. Reuters says LegitScript's services will involve a $1,995 annual vetting fee and a $995 upfront fee. Google hasn't yet determined a vetting process for these advertisements related to treatment centers outside of the US; it isn't clear whether the temporary ad ban will be lifted globally this summer or only for the US.

SOURCE: Reuters