Google & the Government Tame the New Frontier of the Wild Wild Web

- March 2, 2007

As search engine marketing evolves and grows, the rules of the game are made, changed and re-thought. In a recent court decision, Google’s right to filter and disallow ads they feel are objectionable was upheld. The ruling declared that first amendment rights do not extend to paid advertising on search engines and that Google could prevent the site in question from appearing in the sponsored listings. However, the defendant’s site is not prevented from being active, crawled and advertised elsewhere on the web.

This may seem like a bold move for Google and the government, but it reminds us that Google and the internet are not synonymous; Google is part of the web, it is not the web itself. Also it is an advertising venue that has the right to categorize and monitor content like traditional venues. One is not surprised that racy ads are not played during children’s programs or displayed in schools — the same applies on Google. That being said, as advertisers we must better understand how we can utilize the online outlets available to reach the target audience by evaluating where, how, and when we want to appear.

The other half of this recent controversial advertising story is how pushing the limit, offending someone, has become an advertising tactic due to the viral spread of the offense across social networks. The user generated content demands that articles be written and coverage be done in every outlet possible! We’ve seen this in Boston and all over the super bowl ads. One has to wonder, when will pushing the limit get old and become too much of the norm??

What is an internet advertiser to do — offend the media & fight with the engines to get attention? This is not the best course of action. It may produce quick results, but they are not lasting – just like spamming. Instead, practice and encourage responsible advertising in line with the regulations and best practices of each engine and outlet. Working this way produces results and longevity — not to mention protecting an organization’s image as being responsible and reliable rather than trendy and tricky.

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