Google begins rogue lead generator crackdown

Google begins rogue lead generator crackdown

Google has started rolling out a verification process for advertisers in a move that will crack down on rogue lead generators. 

As first reported by FTAdviser in April 2020, lead generation and targeted insurance advertising kicked up a pace during the first Covid-19 lockdown. 

Large players such as Google and Facebook were hosting adverts potentially fraudulent and the financial services industry called for improvement in the quality of adverts on social media and search engines. 

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Following discussions with the Financial Conduct Authority and other players, as well as rising intervention from politicians, Google has been rolling out its Advertiser Identity Verification process. 

This now means consumers can review the company behind the advert, and find out about the advertiser, before they click. They have already been able to report adverts (see image above) for a while. 

According to clients of Contact State, which is campaigning for cleaner lead generation online, Google's Business Operations Verification process has been "sweeping through insurance, lending and retirement planning" adverts, although the process is "slow".

Alain Desmier, founder of Contact State, said: "Google's audit of its advertisers has been intrusive and significant but there does appear to be method behind the process.

"Google is slowly rolling out the AIV process, which will allow the consumer to review the company behind the advert and the location of the advertiser, before they click on an advert.

"It will make fraud easier to spot, harm businesses who are based abroad for tax evasion purposes and cut down on double serving which effectively makes advertising more expensive for everyone."

As reported in FTAdviser, lead generation is a big bone of contention currently, with some lead generators sending client's data to several different brokers and providers, as well as using underhand tactics to lure in the financially unsophisticated.

Mr Desmier issued a warning to those firms buying leads without making sure they know they're reputable. He said: "My advice to any firm that buys leads right now is start taking lead generation due diligence seriously; where do your leads come and what adverts are being used?

"These Google changes appear to be coordinated with the FCA and the financial regulator is gathering information about who is generating leads and who is buying them. Financial promotions ignorance is not going to be an acceptable excuse."

Last month Ronan Harris, managing director of Google for UK & Ireland was in a meeting with FCA chairman Charles Randell and FCA chief executive Nikhil Rathi.

The FCA demanded an update on the work Google was doing to clamp down on financial scams.

In a written response to the FCA, Harris said: "We know that our adversaries are sophisticated and dynamic and so we believe a layered approach, incorporating a spectrum of verification, along with other tactics to locate and remove bad actors, is important.