As India gears up for the Lok Sabha elections, Google on Tuesday announced an updated election ads policy that will provide comprehensive information about who is purchasing them on Google platforms and how much money is being spent. The updated election ads policy will require advertisers to provide a "pre-certificate" issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI) or anyone authorised by the ECI, for each ad they wish to run. The company noted that it will begin verifying advertisers next month.
Google will verify the identity of advertisers before their election ads run on its platforms, the company said in a statement.
"In 2019, over 850 million Indians are expected to cast their vote to elect the country's next government. We're thinking hard about elections and how we continue to support democratic processes in India and around the world," said Chetan Krishnaswamy, Director-Public Policy, Google India.
"In line with this, we are bringing more transparency to election advertising online, and surfacing relevant information to help people better navigate the electoral process," Krishnaswamy added.
The advertiser verification process will begin on February 14.
Google would introduce an India-specific "Political Advertising Transparency" report and searchable "Political Ads Library" in March.
"For the Lok Sabha Election 2019, Google will make electoral information from the ECI and other authoritative sources easily discoverable on Search," the company said.
The move comes at a time when digital platforms have come under pressure to bring transparency into political ads, and are facing increased scrutiny in large markets that are headed for elections.
Last month, Facebook had said it will make it compulsory for advertisers to disclose their identity and location before any such advertisement material can be run on the popular social media platform and Instagram.
Written with agency inputs