Google Blogoscoped

Monday, October 27, 2008

Google Serving Anti Gay Marriage Ads On Gay Community Site

Real classy, Google keyword matching algo (or Google targeted advertising)... serving an anti gay marriage ad on a gay community/ interests site! The AdSense ad in question was shown on, which has the motto “daily experiments in LGBTQ” (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual & Questioning). The ad reads “What really happens if we don’t pass Prop 8 - You Might be Surprised”, and points to That site urges you to vote “Yes on 8” on a mission of “Restoring Marriage & Protecting California Children.”

California Proposition 8, as Wikipedia explains, “is an initiative measure on the 2008 California General Election ballot” which is titled “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”. If passed, Wikipedia explains by quoting from a government site, the proposition would “change the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.” asked Google about this, and was directed to the AdWords advertising policies page which reads:

Political advertising is allowed.

We permit political advertisements regardless of the political views they represent. Stating disagreement with or campaigning against a candidate for public office, a political party, or public administration is generally permissible.

However, political ads must not include accusations or attacks relating to an individual’s personal life, nor can they advocate against a protected group.

Google clarifies that a “protected group is distinguished by their: ... Sexual orientation/Gender identity”. Whether you thus believe that particular ad goes against the policy or not – and whether you believe Google should play strict moderator for these things in the first place –, the ad does seem misplaced in terms of targeting for the majority of users for the site it was shown on (it’s not strictly misplaced for all users of the site though, e.g. someone undecided on the issue of gay marriage may research it, stumble upon Bilerico during research, and then click on the ad).

Recently, Google through a blog post by Sergey Brin took an official stance on proposition 8. “[I]t is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8,” Sergey wrote.

[Thanks K. of!]


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