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Google introduces new requirements for financial services advertisers

Google has set out new rules which will require advertisers promoting financial services to demonstrate they’re authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Businesses in the sector could still be able to promote their services on the search engine if they qualify for one of the exemptions described on the UK financial services verification page. These requirements are for financial service products both regulated and not regulated by the FCA.

It’s part of the tech giant’s work to implement additional measures to “protect its users and legitimate advertisers”, and help prevent scammers “exploiting” its platforms. The update also builds on a partnership it has had with the FCA over the last 18 months to help tackle the issue.

Writing in a blog on the Google website, Google UK and Ireland’s vice president and managing director Ronan Harris said: “The 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.”

Google’s policy will be updated on 30 August 2021, with enforcement beginning on 6 September 2021. As part of this, advertisers must successfully complete the updated verification process by the time enforcement begins in order to show financial adverts to UK users - including for those in the country who appear to be seeking financial services.

The firm says this policy update is the “latest step” in its work to tackle online financial crime in the UK. It currently uses a mixture of machine learning and human review to analyse user experiences and take action.

Harris added: “For the last 18 months, we have worked with the FCA to receive notifications when additions are made to the FCA warning list. Based on feedback from the FCA, we have updated policies, such as our unreliable claims policy. This update restricted the rates of return a firm can advertise and banned the use of terms that make unrealistic promises of large financial return with minimal risk, effort or investment.”

Globally, the search engine has introduced advertiser identity verification, which requires advertisers to submit personal legal identification, business incorporation documents or other information that proves who they are and the country they operate in.

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