Loophole In Google's Verification Process For Rehab Category Concerns Marketers

Google works to help healthcare providers — from doctors to hospitals and treatment centers — to advertise online and connect with people who need their help, but some marketers think the new verification process the company put in place earlier this year is taking too long.

In September 2017, Google pulled ads for rehab facilities in the United States. Then in January 2018 the search giant extended that ban globally.  

“Substance abuse is a growing crisis and has led to deceptive practices by bad actors,” David Graff, senior director, global product policy, wrote in email to Search Marketing Daily. “This is a complex issue but we believe our partnership with LegitScript is a great first step in the U.S. to help better connect people with the treatment they need.”

In April 2018, Google announced more changes and a partnership with LegitScript to reinstate the addiction treatment category in the U.S. 

Some marketers are concerned that the process is taking too long. Vincodo submitted a client through LegitScript and now the company remains in the waiting line for approval, likely along with hundreds, if not thousands, of quality rehab facilities that wish to advertise even on their brand names, CEO Tim Daly explained in an email to Search Marketing Daily. 

John Horton, CEO of LegitScript, spoke at the NAATP Conference this week on the subject, but there is no mention of a “shutdown,” Daly wrote. He added that about 300 companies submitted for certification.  

Daly said it appears that the 300 companies that submitted for verification have been shutdown from advertising on Google until they receive certification, but the patient brokers,, which have not, continue to advertise on the rehab company's keyword terms.

In Google's new process, all rehab companies will need to be certified by LegitScript prior to advertising on Google, and they can begin the process with LegitScript immediately. In July, once advertisers are certified, they can request to be certified by Google and then start advertising on AdWords.

Google’s new policies for rehab facilities will require a double-certification process. All advertisers will need to be certified first by LegitScript, and then in July, all legitimate LegitScript certified advertisers can request to be certified by Google. 

A Google spokesperson said the company will follow the same process it uses for all pharmaceutical advertisers, which has helped ensure user protection while allowing good service providers to promote their business, according to a Google spokesperson.

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