In the run up to Lok Sabha Election 2019, Google has planned to introduce an India-specific Political Advertising Transparency Report and searchable Political Ads Library. This initiative aims to bring more transparency and openness to election advertising online and enabling voters to get the election-related information they need.
The Political Advertising Transparency Report and searchable Political Ads Library will provide comprehensive information about who is purchasing election ads on Google platforms and how much money is being spent and will go live in March 2019.
Chetan Krishnaswamy, Director - Public Policy, Google India, explains, "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. 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."
Google had launched the first Transparency Report in 2010, and since then has been sharing data on how the policies and actions of governments and corporations affect privacy, security, and access to information online. This interactive tool was intended to show users how policy impacts access to information and inform discussions about the free flow of information online. Currently, the web page displays data on the state-wise money spent on buying ads of political importance on Google Ads Services in the United States.
Political Ads Library will be a searchable database featuring ads of political importance that have appeared on Google and partner properties. This database will include ads related to elections or issues that feature a candidate or officeholder. Users will be able to view ads of political importance by advertiser or candidate name, the amount spent, dates the ads ran, number of impressions, or ad type. They will be able to sort the ads by highest amount spent, most impressions, and launched most recently.
Google says that the updated election ads policy for India will require advertisers that are running election ads in India 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. Further, the company will verify the identity of advertisers before their election ads run on the platforms. The advertiser verification process will begin on 14 February 2019.
For providing people with useful and relevant information to help them navigate the electoral process, Google will also make electoral information from the Election Commission of India and other authoritative sources easily discoverable on Search.