We are pleased to report to you that yesterday Google announced that it will stop selling related search advertising in the addiction treatment environment. This is a significant and welcomed move given the tremendous abuses we see on the internet. Google admitted that its system, as it is comprised, allows vulnerable people seeking care to be duped by pop up ads that appear when searching for ad words such as “drug rehab” or “addiction treatment center.”
Because ad driven searches in Google, unlike in other health care areas, are the most common way people find addiction treatment, this is a critical move. It comes as a result of good providers and advocates consistently brining the problem to Google’s attention. Easily the most heated session at NAATP National 2017 this year in Austin was “Protecting our Brands: Treatment Provider Business Development, Ethics, and Intellectual Property," which included a Google representative. Our membership made it clear that while providers acknowledge that we must be competitive and sophisticated in our use of Google, Google too must bear responsibility for a platform that allows for such deception.
NAATP is thankful to our members and colleagues for reporting these abuses and advocating for reform. Not the least of these folks is Greg Williams at Facing Addiction, who was quoted in the New York Times story today: “This is a bold move by one of the world’s biggest companies, saying people’s lives are more important than profit.”
This move, while significant, is of course not the whole issue, which is why NAATP has launched its Quality Control Initiative, focused on protecting and promoting good providers and weeding out the bad.