This is an interesting development. following a report last week showing that dodgy referral services were targeting people seeking medical or treatment help for addictions, Google has placed a temporary ban on all advertising for addiction centres while they work out what to do.
Basically, a number of unscrupulous individuals were using Google to target the vulnerable people with ads for addiction centres that would then pay tens of thousands of dollars for the referral. Who knew that addiction counselling was such a lucrative industry in the US (and abroad).
In a statement from Google to Techcrunch:
Substance abuse is a growing crisis and even as we’ve helped healthcare providers connect with people who need help, unfortunately, there’s also been a rise in deceptive practices from bad actors taking advantage of those in need. This is a complex issue with varying degrees of regulation in different countries, which is why we’ve decided to suspend ads in the entire addiction treatment centre category globally while we consult with experts to find a better way to connect people with the treatment they need.
This kind of advertising was stopped in the US back in September, but Google has now seen enough evidence that the practice is wider spread. So now the ban is a global one and quite a bold move by Google.
The blanket ban is not instantaneous, the ads will be phased out over the coming weeks. The ads will return once Google finds a way to serve the ads safely.