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Friday, April 25, 2008

Scientology’s Google Ads

Scientology seems to be heavily advertising with Google these days. I spotted the below ad on YouTube:

And just now at a blog, I saw the following animated Flash AdSense ad – which was not disclosed as an ad, which is partly to blame on Google (Google would fare better either disclosing all ads as such or none, as the latter would easier allow webmaster to always attach their own disclosure):

These ads link to, like this target page.

Just like Google stays out of guarding over specific organic search result, they likely generally stay out of monitoring ads or enforcing their own beliefs, except for what they say they disallow via their AdWords policy... which does not explicitly seem to mention any rule against the kind of ads shown by Scientology. Such a stance may allow Google to act more neutral overall.

Sometimes, Google is also actively reaching out to advertisers. The following bit posted by Lauren Turner on one of Google’s ad promotion blogs last year was more revealing than Google might have wished for in retrospect (and Google ended that particular blog not long thereafter):

[C]ompanies come to us hoping we can help them better manage their reputations through “Get the Facts” or issue management campaigns. Your brand or corporate site may already have these informational assets, but can users easily find them?

We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message.

Scientology on the other hand may well have found this advertising opportunity on their own, as they know Google well. Some years ago, they managed to get certain Scientology-critical pages on the domain kicked out of Google’s results by filing a copyright infringement notice with Google (do a search for and scroll down to see Google’s notice). Many people at the time reportedly reacted by googlebombing Xenu up into a good spot – even today it’s in the top 10 for a search for scientology. Not all reputation issues can be managed with budgets alone.


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