Have you ever noticed that South African Drug Rehabs are not able to sign up for and purchase paid Google advertising? The same rules apply to any rehab outside of the US attempting to advertise their addiction treatment services.
Drug rehab marketers have a lot to juggle these days due to two main reasons: the nuances of Google Ads and LegitScript, and to move towards reaching your prospective clients in a way that isn’t invasive (and in a manner that can actually help them), you’ve likely got a lot on your plate.
What Legitscript aims to do is help establish credibility and prevent illicit activity related to the online sales and marketing of drugs at its core. But in 2018, it expanded to certifying alcohol and drug rehab centres at the behest of Google.
Drugs Are Sold Online?
Online businesses may be booming, especially in this pandemic world. Yet as these businesses grow, so does the potential for illegal activity pertaining to online marketing tactics and sales methods.
For years, consumers were buying medications like Viagra from vague pharmacies, without being certain if those pharmacies were actually real. There was no one to provide verification services to validate the legitimacy of these online sellers, which made things even more confusing and dangerous!
That’s where LegitScript came into play. LegitScript has compiled critical resources for online companies like pharmaceuticals. These resources address the myriad of high-risk activities online businesses may face so that they can be prepared for the future.
While LegitScript is a somewhat private entity, it’s also a verification authority that has positioned itself to consumers as a leader in validating the authenticity of businesses selling pharmaceuticals online.
Online pharmacies are no joke—in fact, they’re a pretty big deal these days. And when an online pharmacy has a LegitScript badge on their website, you know they’re serious and legitimate. This LegitScript badge helps establish credibility and authority on an internet pharmacy’s site in a way that’s similar to having an SSL certificate.
And in 2018, this method of legitimacy online applied to addiction treatment centres. Google made the LegitScript certification mandatory for all rehabs that want to advertise on its platform. As of February 2021, LegitScript is still only for rehabs based in the US. Still no word on when rehabs in Canada, the UK, and other countries will be allowed to seek certification.
But where/why does Google come into all of this?
Well, Google realized that it needed to revise its system for addiction treatment marketing ads back in 2017. You see, health advocates and government authorities were alarmed about the dangers presented when drug addicts clicked on ads for fake drug rehab centres online. These drug rehab centres were either completely fictional, or they were woefully inadequate in addressing an addict’s needs. This was a problem because these rehab centres usually existed solely to make money off of vulnerable parties, rather than actually treating those in need of help.
Where’s The Sheriff When We Need One?
So, Google took action and began restricting ads that appear when prospective drug rehab clients search for addiction treatment on Google. In this way, it hoped to curb the spread of false drug rehab centres on the web. The tech giant had to install parameters to ensure their hands were clean in the eyes of regulators and protect themselves from permitting untrue information. But this was a massive undertaking that Google couldn’t do alone.
To help enact the changes needed to reform the drug marketing ads Google allowed to proliferate the internet, Google forged a partnership with LegitScript. This partnership allowed treatment centres to obtain a certification through LegitScript—in turn, this certification allows those treatment centres to run ads through Google Ads.
This system allows Google to outsource the verifying of rehabs, pharmacies and online drug retailers to LegitScript. In this way, LegitScript can still practice what it does best, and Google’s role doesn’t kick in until the businesses are certified to run the ads, which they can do through the Google Ads platform.
Currently LegitScript certification does not exist outside of US borders - even Canada cannot take part in paid Google advertising when it comes to drug addiction rehab. When will this opportunity exist for South Africa? It's impossible to tell - although one of Africa's first ever online pharmacies recently gained LegitScript certification. Check it out at mydawa.com - A Kenyan company.