Google is taking a page from the CFPB’s playbook and instituting its own rate cap on short-term loans. Starting July 13, Google won’t let you run ads on financial products due within 60 days or with an APR of over 36-percent.
We chatted with a Google representative about these changes and how they would make it impossible to drive traffic to payday loan sites through PPC campaigns. The representative told us that from Google's perspective payday loans and short-term loans are broader terms capturing a general type of loan, and that the new policy would require all loans to comply with new standards. So while technically you will still be allowed to bid on "payday loan" and similar terms, you won't be able to send that traffic to a site with traditional payday loan products.
It’s a tough blow to our industry that’s already dealing with the CFPB’s soon-to-arrive regulations. But we’ve adapted before and we’ll do it again. As you work toward getting your sites and ads ready for Google’s changes, keep these tips in mind:
1. Start Your Updates Now
We have a couple weeks before the rule goes into effect, but since some of these changes will take a while to implement, we recommend getting started right now.
Just to give you an idea on how serious these updates will be, according to Google neither the ad nor any page of your site is allowed to offer the offending loan products. And if you ignore the rules, then you risk Google suspending your AdWords account. It can take a while to get back into Google’s good graces after they discover you’ve violated one of their policies -- some sites never recover.
2. Know What to Update
Google's original email to AdWords advertisers listed a couple more landing page requirements than currently show on its official policy page. To be thorough, in the list below we've included all of the rules we've seen so far:
Lead generators and aggregators have their own set of rules. Google explains that “aggregators/lead generators may provide sample implications from their network to satisfy the above requirements. Implications of non-payment should be grouped together in one location on the landing page.”
Something important to remember: Google requires that this language be shown "in the same font type, size, and color as the base text on the landing page and presented in a way that is clear and conspicuous to users."
One more thing, the scope of this new rule expands beyond just the ad and your landing page. Google says that “your entire website needs to comply, not just the landing page from your ad.” When we chatted with a Google representative, we asked about this phrase and she said that you should imagine that every page could be a landing page of your ads and must fully comply. That means that you'll need to put this language on every page of your site.
3. Know if the Rules Affect You
The new rules do not apply to sites for mortgages, student loans, commercial loans, car loans, or credit cards. If you have questions about whether your products fall into these categories or not, we recommend reaching out to a Google AdWords expert, which google provides access to for free. You can contact a specialist through phone, email, chat, and even video call. You can find them through Google’s support center. Keep in mind, though, that these “experts” are primarily salesmen who want you to spend as much on your AdWords account as possible.
The days of running ads for short-term, high-interest loans are coming to an end. Don’t wait until the last second to get yourself ready for the switch. Plan out your changes now so you don’t have to scramble when July 13 rolls around.