What LegitScript Verification Means for Treatment Ads on Facebook

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It's difficult to find an article or post about Facebook's apparent recent "ban" of treatment ads, save from centers verified by a company called LegitScript, who also vets facilities for Google Adwords, that doesn't outright parrot LegitScript's own press release.

We know the two biggest online advertising platforms want some "shelter" from liability, and that LegitScript, who charges a $995 application fee and a $1995 annual fee per facility, won the contract.

First, at the risk of repeating what you may have read elsewhere, the vital stats:

Effective August 9th, all centers advertising on the Facebook platform will need to get double-verified...

...first, by completing an application with LegitScript similar to the Adwords application that debuted in July...

...and second by completing this application with Facebook.

Next, a few details we discovered that other sources haven't reported:

It appears that Facebook, unlike Google, is rolling this out as a "soft ban", allowing facilities a "grace period" while they apply, instead of outright curtailing ads, then reintroducing them, as Adwords did.

What's more, it appears that both Google and Facebook will accept a single LegitScript accreditation, so, rather like a CARF accreditation, you only have to get it once. According to LegitScript's site, "LegitScript provides the only certification service for drug and alcohol addiction treatment providers that is relied on by Google and Facebook to vet advertisers for eligibility." [Passive voice theirs;)]

(This might be obvious, but it bears mentioning for anyone wondering "do I have to get two LegitScript certifications - one for Adwords, one for Facebook?" No you don't: a single certification will cover both.)

Finally, according to our friends at Circle Social, Facebook is looking at curtailing all non-branded advertising for addiction treatment in the near future. (A "branded-only" approach would mean that only treatment centers advertising as themselves - and not third-party sites like FightAddictionNow - are allowed to advertise on Facebook.)

So, what does this mean?

Get a LegitScript certification yesterday. Much as it rubs-me-the-wrong-way that a single company now controls, and charges money for, access to the world's two biggest advertising platforms, it's now the-price-of-admission, and it's a rounding error compared to the massive ROI potential from online advertising.

In our experience, Facebook is still the cheapest place to get qualified inquiries to your admissions department. (More on exactly what we've seen here.)

Does the new certification requirement mean a "new era" of lowered-competition because it'll drive all the hucksters away?

In my opinion, probably not.

Just as with Adwords, the LS cert is so cheap that the price won't be an obstacle.

Look for the apparently-forthcoming non-branded-ad ban to do more of the "swamp draining".

But even if every lead-aggregator or fly-by-night operator left the platform tomorrow, leads on Facebook won't get any cheaper. Here's why:

Unlike Adwords, which is an auction for transparent keywords (meaning anyone can see the keywords anyone else is using, and bid-up-the-price), Facebook, though still an auction for eyeballs, uses audience targeting, which is opaque to competitors, and unique-to-each-advertiser.

That means if you're getting mostly Medicaid/care calls from Facebook right now, the reason isn't your competition.

As I explain in this article, it's your crappy ad creative and bad funnel design, forcing people into a decision before they've had any exposure to you, which selects for unqualified calls. (Qualified people do research, and want to know more before they get on the phone.)

And it's reputable centers - those who will have no problem getting the LS certification - who are running most of the crappy ads.

So the LegitScript process isn't going improve your cost-per-qualified-lead overnight by wiping out "the competition".

You're still gonna have to get better at marketing.

And if you'd like to read more about exactly what we do, why it's different from the approach most (though not all) marketers use, and why it gets results, I recommend this article. (No opt-in required.)