After an investigation by the nonprofit organization NARAL Pro-Choice America, Google has decided to take down several ads for “crisis pregnancy centers” because they provided, according to a report, misleading information and that they violated Google’s policy against deceptive advertising.
“We have no problem with crisis pregnancy centers advertising online; we have no problem with their existing,” Illyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America said. “That is their right in America.” However, she expressed concerns with how the centers’ ads are constructed and shared, saying that their text indicates that they provide abortions.
According to analysis by NARAL, 79% of the crisis pregnancy centers advertised on Google indicated that they provided medical services, like abortions. But, in actuality, they are more focused on providing counseling services and information about alternatives to abortion. As a result, the discrepancy between their goals and the advertising techniques is clear.
The data led to Hogue and NARAL writing a letter to Google CEO Larry Page in February. “We have no qualms with crisis pregnancy centers engaging in paid advertising,” it read. “However, we are deeply concerned with their false advertising practices.”
In response, Google took down the questionable ads on Monday. Though the company has guarded itself against blocking specific content from its pages, in this case, NARAL was able to prove that the ads were in violation of Google’s own guidelines.
“We’re constantly reviewing ads to ensure they comply with our AdWords policies, which include strict guidelines related to ad relevance, clarity, and accuracy,” the company said in a statement. “If we find violations, we’ll take the appropriate actions — including account disablings and blacklists — as quickly as possible.”
“It is important that Google take care of these issues as quickly as possible,” explains Tim McDonald, Marketing Manager of RankXPress. “Giving users false information is not what the company prides itself on, especially with such a serious subject.”
“The action taken by Google to address this pressing problem raises the bar for other search engines to monitor and enforce their own advertising policies,” Hogue added. “We will continue to work with Google to ensure that their commitment results in women being directed to the resources and services they are seeking when they search online, ending this manipulation of women making vital health decisions.”