On Towleroad, a gay-news blog that I assume earns its proprietor some income, I see an object lesson in how Google Adsense can undermine your message. It would be funny if it weren’t so… well, maybe it’s a little funny.
Towleroad has been following the whole Chick-Fil-A flap, in which the restaurant chain’s owners have been affirming their anti-gay stance. Naturally, Towleroad takes a dim view of Chick-Fil-A. And since Google’s mysterious mechanisms have spotted that particular topic, they threw up an ad promoting Chick-Fil-A. Google’s probing bots apparently can’t distinguish favorable coverage from unfavorable coverage. But they can match Chick-Fil-A content with Chick-Fil-A promotions with no problem!
Google ads also insert ads based on your own recent Google searches, which is why if you run a query for, say “Rosetta Stone,” you’ll likely encounter ads for that product all over the Web. Often, something I just purchased gets advertised all over the place, which is another big Google flaw. I don’t need to be sold something I just bought.
So when you’re on this blog, I don’t know what the heck Google’s telling you in the sidebar. But if you see something you think I’d object to, I hope you’ll let me know. Very likely, an ad for Chick-Fil-A will be popping up, now that I’ve given the chain several mentions in a single blog post. Click according to your own conscious.