Google Quits Drug Rehab

Google Stops Ads For Drug Rehab

Anyone who has been in the marketing side of addiction treatment has known that Google’s paid traffic has been the bread and butter for addiction treatment leads for years.

In fact it was specifically Google Adwords that allowed the current economies of scale in this niche, where rehab centers could buy leads and calls for new patients without having to develop their own marketing channels.

If leads abound and are plentiful, why not just buy them rather the time and expense into SEO and Google Maps optimization?

Today, the “rehab marketing world” was shook, as overnight Google stopped running ads for thousands of keywords related to addiction treatment.

(We applaud Google for doing this, it was the right move. Even though we pride ourselves on our ethics, many of our competitors don’t have the same high standards and we could see ourselves how Google was being manipulated)

From The Verge who originally broke the story:

Around the country today, marketers in the $35 billion addiction treatment industry woke up to an unpleasant surprise: Many of their Google search ads were gone. Overnight, the search giant has stopped selling ads against a huge number of rehab-related search terms, including “rehab near me,” “alcohol treatment,” and thousands of others. Search ads on some of those keywords would previously have netted Google hundreds of dollars per click.

“We found a number of misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision, in consultation with experts, to restrict ads in this category,” Google told The Verge in a statement. “As always, we constantly review our policies to protect our users and provide good experiences for consumers.”

Google is the biggest source of patients for most treatment centers. Advertisers tell Google how much they want to spend on search ads per month, which keywords they’d like those ads to run against, and then pay Google every time someone clicks on their ad.

While many treatment centers market themselves ethically, there are also significant numbers of bad actors using deceptive and even illegal tactics to get “heads in beds.”

This is obviously going to change everything from a marketing point of view. We will have much more to say about this in future posts.