From July the 13th “Payday Loan” operators will no longer be able to use AdWords to promote their service. Google made the announcement in an update from its public policy team this week.
Not surprisingly, the move has had polarising reactions. Many are praising Google for its ethical stance while those in the multi-billion dollar industry are outraged, claiming they provide a much-needed service.
In the announcement, Google stated “Ads for financial services are a particular area of vigilance given how core they are to people’s livelihood and well-being…. In that vein, today we’re sharing an update that will go into effect on July 13, 2016: we’re banning ads for payday loans and some related products from our ads systems”.
Payday loan industry advocates have slammed Google for being hypocritical as Google Ventures led a round of investment in the multi-million dollar US short term loan start-up LendUp, in Nov 2013. LendUp charges annual percentage rates of up to 396.29% for its short term loans and is a strong player in the US market. The announcement also received many mixed comments on their blog.
It is important to note that while Google will no longer allow “Payday Loan” businesses to promote themselves using AdWords it will still continue to index their websites. People looking for these services will still be able to find them in organic (natural) search listings.
Why should you care?
For those in the short-term loan business, there are a number of implications and options still open to them.
Firstly, those that have already invested in SEO and are ranking well for relevant terms are likely to see increased conversions. If they’ve also been using AdWords, they’ll also see a much lower cost of acquisition from search.
Will this mean the stronger players become even more dominant as they will be able to afford to invest even more in SEO at the expense of their competition? We will have to wait and see.
Secondly, there are still the Bing and Yahoo platforms – neither have as yet followed Google’s lead. While the search volume is much lower, they will be a viable proposition now for advertisers that previously only used Google.
Finally, this does re-enforce the fact that a solid SEO strategy (no matter what industry you are in) is imperative to future-proof your online presence. Make sure you are not relying on AdWords to stay in business (and not to get the majority of your leads and sales) — if you do, you are only one policy decision away from disaster.
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Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.