Landing Page Changes Accepted By Google Are Not Authorisations

Sep 29 2016

Landing Page Changes Accepted By Google Are Not "Authorisations"

CEO, Phil Johns, warns that Google’s recent change to their AdWord Policy regarding loans under 60 days has little, if any, consistency in the instructions and 'advice' given by Google staff to lenders on this matter.  As a result, the content of the pay-per-click landing pages “authorised by Google” for this new AdWord policy varies significantly which is of much concern to NCPA and Members.

Google’s policy for the 'authorisation' of landing pages comes from the USA – not Australia - and with no consideration given to the Australian small loans industry and the significant consumer protections that apply to Australia's small loans market under the NCCP Act.  The Australian staff at Google have no ability to critically analyse the Australian requirements; they are simply told what to do from their Head Office and Head Office seems to have no appreciation of the Australian laws.

All Members who use Google AdWords and believe they have their new landing pages “authorised by Google”, should think again.  You should take no legal comfort that Google said the page “was authorised” by them.  It counts for nothing towards your obligations to ensure your adverting does not breach Australian advertising laws and especially those under the NCCP Act..  "Authorised by Google" does not mean that it complies with Australian law.  All it means is that authorisation has been given by Google in accordance with Google’s internal requirements, which Google seems to be changing from time to time and interpreting differently for different lenders' pages.

Phil Johns also points out that Google should be the last entity setting itself up to be a pseudo-regulator for advertising.  This is because the much promoted Google-backed payday firm in the US called LendUp has just been fined by US regulators over bad lending practices. It appears that LendUp charged illegal fees, miscalculated interest rates, and failed to report information to credit bureaus despite promising to do so. They will pay $6.3 million in refunds and penalties. The US regulator CFPB was critical and said LendUp's advertising was misleading.

Member Action::

As always, Members should seek legal advice about any changes to their website to ensure they do not unintentionally breach Australian advertising standards or requirements for advertising credit products.