Google Takes a Stand on its Political Content

Fuel Web Marketing | Google Updates | January 24, 2022
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As we all know, it has been a tumultuous few years between politics and a global pandemic. And for any new technology today, it often finds itself at odds with being profitable and socially sensitive. This especially holds true for technology that has to answer to shareholders who always have their eyes trained on the bottom line.

Google has continued to face many of these challenges, facing multiple rounds with the Department of Justice over antitrust issues with its advertising technology. One of Google’s new responses to ongoing issues of trust are those concerning election advertising exemptions, particularly to ensure the authenticity of election content going forward.

Political Advertising Fessing Up

There was nowhere where profit vs. social conscience had a more stark dichotomy than in the political arena. According to Scott Spencer, Vice President of Product Management for Google Ads, “...given the recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms. So we’ve made a few changes to how we handle political ads on our platform globally. Regardless of the cost or impact to spending on our platforms, we believe these changes will help promote confidence in digital political advertising and trust in electoral processes worldwide.”

Election Ads Exemptions Will Be Ending

Next month, Google Ads policies will be updated to eliminate exemptions for election ads worldwide. With this policy update, any advertising for products, services, or news will no longer be exempt from their Election Ads policies, requiring that any entity wishing to promote election material be subject to their requirements, including identity verification. Violations may result in account suspension. Google has now warned these entities to review their policies to ensure that their ads fall within these requirements and ensure that they complete their verification. If not, ads will be removed as of February 15, 2022.

How Will Google Verify an Advertiser’s Identity in the United States?

As of this month, Google will change how it verifies the identity of political advertisers, no longer accepting W9 forms as identifying documents. Instead, for proper EIN verification, Google will now accept

  • A document, notice, or letter issued by the IRS or stamped by the IRS reflecting the organization’s name and EIN
  • Forms such as 8871 or 990 submitted to the IRS
  • Certificates of business incorporation
  • A company’s most recent SEC filing
  • Bank statements dated within the past three months
  • Business credit reports from Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, or Dun & Bradstreet

These must all include the name of the organization and its EIN. Those who complete verification on the basis of an FEC identification number or a state elections regulator registration or ID number will be exempted. Those who have already passed election ads verification will not be required to submit additional documentation. These policy changes will begin to be enforced on January 24th.

Ad Serving Options

In addition, Google is changing its ad serving options. As the policy currently exists, elections advertising can only serve in the country or region with which the content pertains. The new policies will allow, with proper identity verification, political content from another country, but it will be limited to the home country of the advertiser. This advertising would not be permitted to run in the other country.

How Will These Changes Affect You as a Business Owner?

While these Google policy updates only affect election content, if you are running for an elected position or endorsing one, you will want to ensure that you carefully review these changes and make the necessary adjustments. Otherwise, you may run into issues. Any violations will result in a warning by Google with a possible account suspension seven days later.

At Fuel Web Marketing, our digital marketing professionals keep up-to-date on all matters that may affect you as a website owner, ensuring that you don’t stumble on fully preventable issues such as those created by Google policy updates. Let us help keep you knowledgeable about all policy changes that may affect your website and business and make this year the most successful year yet. Contact us online or call (888) 375-3835 to speak with one of our consultants.