Google Ads: New Policies for Government Documents & Services
Over the years people have gotten used to doing everything through the internet. Nobody enjoys the long ques when it comes to paying bills, scheduling an appointment or waiting for tickets.
Even though people in the past waited hours to get their errands done, it looks like doing that now is considered as time wasted. And why should you wait in line at your favorite records store to buy tickets or a vinyl from your favorite band, when you can do all of that with just a click from your phone.
In addition to this, eCommerce has proven to be useful when it comes to people buying products online and getting them delivered at their doorstep. But, what happens when people want official documents and services taken care of through the internet?
Well, looks like getting their passport renewed is not a walk in the park for many people, so they have been shifting to Google and other online services to help take this burden off their shoulders.
Google’s Other Restricted Businesses Policy
Google already restricts certain kinds of businesses from advertising on its platform. They often update their Other restricted businesses policy to prevent users from being exploited.
Usually, when Google identifies products or services which are prone to abuse, and they threaten users' safety they step in and prohibit their and related ads from running.
For example, ads for free computer software are limited and only allowed when following specific terms. With this, Google aims to protect people from downloading suspicious programs to their devices, thus protecting them from potentials scams and viruses.
Event ticket sellers are allowed to advertise only if they have been certified by Google. This aims to stop resellers from selling tickets at a higher price than the regular.
New Policies for Government Documents and Services
A lot of services and businesses emerged, which are offering to take care of applications for government documents on behalf of their clients. They have even been advertising their services on Google.
Realizing this, Google declared that starting from the 26th of May 2020, they will no longer support ads for documents and/or services that can be obtained directly from a government provider.
Offers of assistance to obtain these services will not be allowed on Google anymore. Other than from a government provider, people can go to a delegated provider. A delegated provider is defined as a company that has been officially entrusted or authorized by the Government to provide particular products or services on their behalf.
Google announced it would not allow ads promoting the acquisition, renewal, replacement, or retrieval of government documents, including:
- Passports and other forms of national ID;
- Proof of permanent residency;
- Proof of immigration status/registration;
- Driving licenses;
- Travel documents like visas and Electronic Travel Authorizations (ETAs);
- Social security cards;
- Hunting or fishing licenses;
- Gun licenses or registration;
- Documents or information derived from official registries like birth certificates, marriage certificates, and military records.
This policy will also prohibit promotions for assistance with applying or paying for official or public services that are directly available via a government or delegated provider.
- Assistance with applying for government appointments or benefits;
- Assistance with requesting an official change of address, an official name change, unclaimed money, or a mail hold;
- Assistance with paying transportation fees, such as bridge tolls or congestion charges.
Promotions from authorized providers or resellers will also be prohibited. This policy will apply regardless of the price being charged by the advertiser for the product or service.
This means that after Google begins enforcing the policy on 26 May 2020, the current policy for the Sale of free items, which is a part of their Other restricted businesses policy, will be removed.
What’s Not Restricted by This New Policy?
The following professional services are not restricted by the new Government Documents and Official Services policy:
- Tax preparation services;
- Legal services;
- Business-to-business (B2B) / enterprise services;
- Immigration lawyers or immigration consultants where the focus is on consultation and not just assistance in acquiring specific travel documents.
Updating their policies means that Google cares how users experience their platform and want to protect them from being exploited. So, any parties out there wanting to make money by scamming innocent people through advertising their services on Google looks like the gray area you have been using has come to light.
Violations of this policy will be considered to be non-egregious and will therefore not lead to immediate account suspension without prior warning. Repeated violations could lead to account suspension.