July 26, 2001
Google seems to have discovered the ad, and “disapproved” it, and it is no longer running. Here is their email to me:
As per our previous communication, we do not allow the advertisement of firearms or related products. We are writing to let you know that your account has been closed, effective immediately.
We appreciate your cooperation with our decisions.
The Google AdWords Team”
This is not exactly true, since my account with them is still active, only the ad has been disapproved. I am going to try and create another ad :-)
Here is my original Google note:
Some people have been asking me why I was complaining about Google search engine (google.com) being anti-gun when they have seen our www.eguns.com Dillon ad running. Here is the story.
First, the short answer. I don’t believe Google realizes that the ad is running.
Now, the detailed answer.
Google has a form of paid advertising called “AdWords” which a company can purchase to put up a small text ad
on search engine results. The company purchasing the “ad compaign” can define whatever keywords, key phrases,
etc. they want to trigger their ad and when someone uses google.com to search and their search includes one of the
defined triggers, the ad is listed on the right-hand side of the screen as a “sponsored link”. There is no confusion as to search results versus paid ads.
Eguns.com (Pengar Enterprises, Inc.) wanted to try running an AdWords ad campaign on google to see if we
couldn’t get more Dillon business. We are trying to build the Dillon business into a sustainable business for the
owner (me :-). We input an ad to run (basically what you see now running), and requested a new account be made
for us using Google’s online ad system, which is an automated system. As part of account creation, their system is supposed to send a confirmation email to our contact email address (email@example.com). That confirmation email did not show up. After waiting a whole day, and trying to get new confirmations sent to me using their “Did not get
one -- retry” button on the webpage, I emailed their AdWords technical support staff to ask why I did not get any
sort of response from their system. In response, I received an email that included the following piece:
“Thank you for your email. You should have received the email verification already however, please know
that we do not allow advertisements for the sale of guns or related products. Your account is not active and will not be charged.”
I replied asking where in their Terms and Conditions page this was stated. We went back and forth with a
supervisor or two from Google taking over for their side, where they explained that it was not explicitly stated but
they reserved the right to reject any ads they wanted too, and that firearms and related ads were not wanted nor accepted. I said some not very nice things about their integrity, and stuff like that.
In the midst of this whole email discussion with them, my “Confirmation” email showed up (about five or six of them
actually). It seems their automated ad system became unstuck, and it became clear to me that their response to me about the no sale of “guns or related products” was keyed from my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and not because they had actually gone in and seen my ad. I wanted to explore their ad system anyways, since my other
job is as a computer guy doing web applications (currently unemployed -- hence the desire to boost Dillon
business), so I went in and confirmed my account with them using the account confirmation email I had belatedly
received when their automated system became unstuck. Upon doing so I discovered my ad was still in their system, had not been deleted, so I typed in a credit card and immediately my ad went live (it is an automated
system after all). So they seem to not have very good controls on their system.
After my ad had been live about a day, I received one final email from them about their policy, which basically confirmed their policy. Here is the main part of it:
“We believe strongly in freedom of expression, and at the same time do use editorial discretion to sometimes
restrict certain ads. Balancing these sometimes contradictory values is difficult for any business as there are
no clear black and white answers. Please note that the decisions we make concerning advertising in no way
affects the search result content on Google. We will continue to show search results for firearms and related products.
We appreciate your comments on this issue, which will help inform our future policy discussions. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”
So, they did not back down on their policy, they just have no good way to enforce it unless someone complains to
them or something. In short. it appears that their policy, though unwritten, is to not allow paid advertising for guns
or gun related products, but that their search engines (free information) are free to show firearms and firearm
related information. They do not restrict their search engines to reflect their advertising policy. The policy, according to them, only affects their paid advertising.