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by Stephen Logan on 17th June 2011
Now imagine your surprise as an employee of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, when you visit a political website and see an advert for Democratic President Obama on a brand new platform. Not immediately remarkable, but when you contact Google to enquire a little further, you might be surprised to learn that it is a pre-alpha test and that it appears your rivals are getting preferential treatment.
Oh dear, now this is a potential conflict of interest. Suddenly Google is openly admitting to giving President Obama and his party a little extra help in their campaign. So if you’re a Republican, working as hard as you can to get your message out there, it’s easy to understand why you might be a little bemused, even angry.
However, as the previous spoiler has already suggested, this isn’t exactly the case. If we are to believe the search giant, this favouritism is actually as the result of a slightly over zealous sales pitch. A spokesman for Google had this to say on the matter:
“This is an experiment and while we generally do not comment on those experiments we can tell you that we have not sold a single CPL [cost-per-lead] ad unit to any political candidates or committees.” [Source: Politico | Google denies special deal for Barack Obama]
It’s easy to see why you might burden Google with claims of undue favouritism towards the political left, after all Eric Schmidt was an informal advisor to Obama. That’s a pretty close tie-in. However it appears that this is genuinely a straightforward test for a new display advertising platform. The Democratic link may be a little mischievous, but where column inches are so strictly monitored and highly treasured, it’s easy to see why tempers may flare.
So the long and short of it is that Google are testing, Obama got involved indirectly and apparently it didn’t have anything at all to do with the search engine anyway. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story? At least it’s lifted the lid on a new advertising platform to watch out for, if nothing else.