What do Google’s new financial services regulations mean for advertisers?

Google has announced it will be introducing stricter regulations on adverts for financial services in the UK, which could have big ramifications on the Pay Per Click strategy of your business.

To advertise any form of financial product to UK users, you will now need to be verified by the search engine. Failure to do so could lead to account suspension, although Google has stated that this will only follow a warning.

The measure comes about after calls for the search engine to take more decisive action around ads that have been linked to scams. Action Fraud revealed that £1.7bn has been lost to scams in the UK over the last year and that 85% of all fraud was cyber-enabled. It follows several actions from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to have a bigger impact in the digital space, including recently banning cryptocurrency operator Binance from advertising in the UK.

How do you get verification?

To achieve this all-important verification, you will need to prove the products and services you are offering are verified by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), or that you qualify for one of the FCA’s exemptions.

It’s done so by submitting the following information to Google via this form:

  • Google Ads account Customer ID
  • Name of the Authorized Representative applying for verification
  • Your business details (name, address, email address)
  • Your domain(s) or website(s) included in the UK Financial Conduct Authority registry and any of your other domain(s) or website(s) used for advertising on Google Ads which are not included in the UK FCA registry
  • UK FCA registration number (FRN)
  • Warranty that you will comply with any and all obligations that relate to the communication of, approval of, and restrictions on, financial promotions pursuant to applicable legal and regulatory requirements

Google describes exemptions as the following: “Advertisers that do not promote financial services, but that have a compelling reason to target users who appear to be seeking financial services”. If you fall under this categorisation and are exempt, you’ll still need verification from an approved FCA organisation on your behalf, who will need to deliver the below information through the same form as above.

  • Google Ads account Customer ID
  • Name of the Authorized Representative applying for verification
  • Your Business details (name, address, email address)
  • Domains or websites of third party financial services advertisers whose ads are approved by you
  • Warranty that you approve the financial promotions the third party runs.

When is the legislation applicable?

Tuesday, September 7th is the date this happens, but we’d advise you to prepare well ahead. If you are FCA regulated then providing Google with the necessary details shouldn’t be too difficult an undertaking, but you will want to make sure that they have the information well in advance of the regulations kicking in.

If you are relying on a partner to provide the verification for you, it’s important you do this as quickly as possible. You’ll need to ensure that someone is prepared to verify your business on your behalf while having enough time to explore alternatives if they don’t agree to do this for you.

How will this impact ad work?

If you’re a business that sells financial services, you must prepare in advance for this and secure the verification ahead of the deadline. Any amount of time lost from being able to advertise on Google could be hugely damaging to your business, not only hitting your revenues but also giving your competition a much-needed advantage.

It’s also an extra barrier of entry for new businesses, which could be a positive or a negative depending on your own current place within the market. It’s likely Google will enforce this strictly, so if you are planning on moving into Google advertising for financial services in the future, considering this will be an important part of formulating any strategy.

Despite this, it’s likely the measures will be beneficial for businesses. If only FCA regulated providers are allowed to advertise, this will improve the quality of adverts served to the user. You’ll likely lose a lot less trade to illegal scams, so this will not only be a positive improvement for the average consumer, but also the industry that serves them legally and ethically.

If you want to discuss how this impacts your business or your PPC strategy as a whole, book a call today.

Written by
Jimmy Coultas
Jimmy Coultas

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