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  1. #1
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    Google Bans Environmental Group's Ads
    By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer

    SAN FRANCISCO - Online search engine leader Google has banned the ads of an environmental group protesting a major cruise line's sewage treatment methods, casting a spotlight on the policies — and power — of the popular Web site's lucrative marketing program.

    Oceana, a 2 1/2-year-old nonprofit group, said Google dropped the text-based ads displayed in shaded boxes along the right side of its Web page because they were critical of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

    Washington D.C.-based Oceana believes Royal Caribbean pollutes the oceans by improperly treating the sewage on its ships. It hoped to publicize its complaints by paying to have its ads appear when terms like "cruise vacation" and "cruise ship" were entered into Google's search engine.

    The ad, which said "Help us protect the world's oceans," appeared for two days last week before Google pulled it from its page.

    When Oceana challenged the ban, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google responded with an e-mail advising the group that it doesn't accept ads with "language that advocates against Royal Caribbean."

    Oceana's ad didn't mention Royal Caribbean directly, but the link directed Google visitors to a Web page critical of the Miami-based cruise line.

    The decision stunned Oceana because it reeked of censorship and favoritism, said Andrew Sharpless, the group's chief executive.

    "We were surprised because the answer they gave certainly raises the question whether they got a phone call from Royal Caribbean," Sharpless said Thursday. "We can't prove that, but it certainly smells that way."

    Both Google and Royal Caribbean denied there was any pressure applied to remove the Oceana ad.

    Google's policy prohibits ads criticizing other groups or companies, said spokeswoman Cindy McCaffrey. "We do reserve the right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising we accept on our site," she said.

    Google's ad policies don't affect the noncommercial results that the search engine delivers using a closely guarded formula.

    Oceana's ad probably would be accepted by Yahoo!, which operates a similar online marketing program through its Overture subsidiary. Overture accepts critical ads, as long as they aren't obscene or libelous, said company spokeswoman Jennifer Stephens. "We see it as a freedom of speech issue," she said.

    The ads have become a big moneymaker for Google, providing the company with hundreds of millions of dollars to expand its operations and technology.

    As a privately held company, Google doesn't disclose its financial results, but its revenue last year is believed to have ranged between $700 million and $1 billion. The company is expected to go public later this year.

    Google's ad rates have been steadily rising as advertisers have discovered the value of having their Web links prominently displayed under search terms related to their businesses.

    The marketing program, which Google calls "AdWords," also has caused headaches for the company.

    American Blind and Wallpaper Factory recently filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Google because the search engine allows rival merchants to display their ads alongside the terms "American wallpaper" and "American blind."

    Google also has come under fire for displaying ads from unlicensed pharmacies that sell painkillers. Google hopes to have a system in place to block the unlicensed pharmacy ads in the near future, McCaffrey said.

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Just like any other web site, Google has the right to allow or not allow any advertising they want.

    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com

  3. #3
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    Google approves and disapproves the same ads for one site of mine on a regular basis because they are political in nature, and somewhat offensive... I simply resubmit and sometimes they make it through. And, just like any other site, a prime example being forums such as ABW, the rules are made by the owners/administrators. When you're on Google.com, it's the United States of Google, the Republic of Google, and Nation of Google. There is no freedom of speech there to dispute a violation of...

    _____________________________
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    Die Parasites Die!!

  4. #4
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    They got what they wanted afterall (publicity)

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    I guess my reaction is "So what if they do?"

    Freedom of speech and advertising are two separate things. Rejecting an ad like that is simply a good business decision, and the group has no "right" to demand it be displayed on users machines.

    Fred

    Are you sure the nurses know you're using the computer?

  6. #6
    affiliate emeritus missdonna's Avatar
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    Freedom of speech refers to Google's right to decide what to put on their own website.

    Forcing them to promote anyone they don't chose to promote would be violating Google's freedom of speech.

    And Oceana can put whatever they want on their own site.

  7. #7
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    The issue becomes more pointed when the advertising outlets become more consolidated. As the media becomes more and more under the control of fewer and fewer owners, the public soapbox becomes limited to literally that. The days of public discourse is an endangered concept as groups like Clear Channel and Comcast seek to monopolize the media.

    Janet Jackass's stunt aside, CBS is good at limiting controversial ads AND content. You won't see ads showing your grandchildren laboring to pay for the current tax cuts and you won't see programming critical of Ronald Reagan.

    The world of the Rush Limbaugh Dittoheads is moving more and more into the rest of the media. It is small wonder Google is caving into the pressures of corporations to exclude ideas contrary to own business interests. Look for more of this as Google moves closer to their IPO. Look for Google to be gobbled up by a bigger media giant.

    Freedom of speech will be a joke when the ability to be heard is tightly controlled a few giant corporations. Don't expect to be heard unless you parrot the party line.

    Anyone still believe the myth of the Liberal Media?

    Wayne

  8. #8
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    Personally, Wayne, I found the horse fart ad at the Superbowl much more offensive than Janet Jackson's stunt, and that one was no secret or accident.

  9. #9
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    LOL..."Personally, Wayne, I found the horse fart ad at the Superbowl much more offensive than Janet Jackson's stunt, and that one was no secret or accident."

    The Candlepeople here got residual value on that one. The Frat crew loved it and the ugly Sororiety Gals lapped it up. I thought it was a "mindblower" and perfect followup to the "What's Up" Ads. Charlie liked it too ...but he's kinda anal anyway!

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  10. #10
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    Wayne, but this is not saying they are out of the index, simply on google adwords/adsense, the policy always has been - you cannot be anti. Anti anything. Hell you can't be anti this enviromental group.

    In google's place, I think this is a sound policy.

    Chet

  11. #11
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Whiznot:
    ...I found the horse fart ad at the Superbowl much more offensive...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Could have been. Didn't see any of it. But its CBS's right to exercise their freedom of speech, to discriminate against a thought-provoking ad in favor of a horse's ass ad, paid for by some huge horse's ass of a company to sell some product to millions of horse's asses over the public airwaves. Americans died for that right. Don't be offended. Get with the program.

    Wayne

  12. #12
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    I think that if Google applies the same principles to all their ads then it's fine; however, I don't think they should be allowed to discriminate within their search results (ie., decide to take out hate sites, anti-sites, etc. or give them a lower ranking because of the topic or viewpoint expressed.) That gets too close to censorship for me.

  13. #13
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    Chet, I don't think Google has a consistant policy. Lots of anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Lot's of "anti" sites running adwords. Here's an adsense example:

    Say Anything
    Conservative commentary from a
    mid-western perspective.
    sayanythingblog.com

    Anti-Democrats, today making (too) much of an alleged John Kerry sex-scandal, reported (or fabricated) in the Sludge Report. Some anti-Bush sites running adwords too. I think Google applies their "policies" only when a bigger fish make a stink about a smaller one. It's all about money. The one with the most money is free to speak. (Except at ABW.)

    Wayne

  14. #14
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    I think this is the same as what I said about google and copyright. These are all just words to them, unless they stumble upon it or are notified, they aren't going to find every case. Most businesses watch their listings like a hawk, so they notice, they notify.

    Bet you $10, show me an adsense that is truely anti, and I bet I can have it removed within a week. I would say the same goes for for an adsense advertisers, but I do not wish to harm a webmaster directly.

    Chet

  15. #15
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    One of the reason I removed Adsense from most of my site was the nonstop stream of offensive (political and religious) and even illegal (outright scam) ads. I complained about some of the scam ads, to no avail. Yet Google will censor an environmental organization. Talk about making yourself look very, very bad, Google.

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