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Google will let you check up on advertisers’ campaign histories

Google will let you check up on advertisers’ campaign histories


Starting for US users in the coming months

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google will start giving users more information about who’s running the ads they see. The company’s “About this ad” menu will show basic information about advertisers, as well as any other ads they’ve run in the past 30 days. The goal is to help users better judge whether a given ad buyer is trustworthy, following criticism about scams on the platform.

Google mentioned that more ad disclosures would be coming last year, when it started verifying the identities and locations of all advertisers. (It had previously reserved verification requirements for political ads.) The company says it’s started verifying advertisers in 90 countries, but the disclosure option is launching only in the US in the coming months, then expanding to more countries in 2022.

Google’s advertising control options, displaying information for a US-based company called Coat Depot

Screenshots indicate that the advertiser info is pretty basic — it gives you the legal name of who placed the ad, the country where they’re located, the rough number of ads they’re running, and a list of the ads. You’ll be able to see information about campaigns on both Search and YouTube.

Facebook, which dominates online advertising alongside Google, offers similar functionality through a database that users can check to see all ads running across Facebook and Instagram. Google also offers an advertiser database, but it’s focused on political ads.

Google implemented ad verification amid reports that scams and false ad listings were rife on both Google and Facebook. A recent UK report indicated that both companies still failed to remove many scam ads directing users to knockoff versions of established retailers. Some scammers also target Google Maps with fake business listings. Now, it’s supposed to be easier to report an ad that violates Google’s policies — at which point Google promises a member of the team will review it for compliance.