Last Tuesday, I spent a good chunk of my day adding in a new page across several landing page creatives for one of our clients.  While it was a bit tedious, in general, I’m glad this change was necessary.  Starting May 17, 2011 aka tomorrow, Google will add three new requirements to the Information Harvesting clause for their advertisers.  In my post today, I want to step you through what Google is changing in their policy, and what you can do to make sure that your site is up to par and you won’t be punished when they make the change.

Google’s policy on user information, up until now, has been more lenient.  The current policy states “Google Adwords prohibits websites that solicit personal information from users in circumstances where it’s unclear how the information will be used.”  Google has always been exceptionally adamant about high quality landing pages.  They use your landing page to factor your Quality Score to force advertisers into constructing top-notch Adwords accounts and provide Google users with the best possible experience.

One aspect of their landing page policy is transparency, which says that your website openly shares information about your product and company with your customers.  Everything from billing to what your business does should be blatantly obvious to a customer, or your Quality Score and ads could take a hit.  Regarding personal information, Google’s current policy states that a Privacy Policy should be available disclosing how the information will be used, and customers should be given the option to opt out and access your site without registering or be given a preview of what to expect when they DO register.

The new privacy policy requirements will apply to all countries where Adwords is available, and will go into effect on May 17, 2011.  If your website requests any of the following information from your Google PPC customers, take note:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Birth date
  • Personal ID numbers
  • Credit or debit card numbers
  • Bank account numbers
  • Wire transfer numbers

New Requirements:

You can access these requirements from Google Adwords Help, but here they are:

1.)  Clear, accessible disclosure before any personal information is given

2.)  Option to opt out of communications with your business

3.)  Secure connection required if visitor is providing personal and financial information

Here are some suggestions for making your customers feel more at ease while they use your site and comply with Google’s policy at the same time:

  • Clearly inform your customers of where they can find changes in your privacy policy
  • How can visitors contact a representative of your company if they have questions regarding your privacy policy
  • Explanation of why you need the information that you are requesting from them and how you will use it, including: if you do or do not allow access to information from a third party, how you use information for advertising/website improvement purposes
  • How customers can easily opt out of communications with you should they wish
  • If you collect any financial information with personal information, Google requires you transmit the information over an SSL connection (https:)