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Google rejects trade union's Adwords advertisement

Howard Lake | 27 June 2004 | News

Google Adwords is used by many charities to promote their Web site online, but an American labour union has been told that Google won’t accept its paid advert.

After three months of allowing a paid Google Adwords advertisement promoting a pro-union Web site, Google now says that the company won’t allow adverts that contain “language that advocates against an individual, group, or organisation”.

This could have far-reaching implications for charities and campaigning groups in the USA and further afield.


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The advert was placed on Google’s Adwords system by Wal-Mart Workers of Michigan. It read:

Wal-Mart Workers of MI
A union can help with job stability
safety, better pay, and benefits.

The advert was designed to help organise Wal-Mart employees into a union to try to improve their working conditions and wages.

Google’s current dominance of Web searching and its ability to deliver context-relevant advertising across its site and thousands of other partner sites means that it is a valuable tool for charities and organisations wishing to promote themselves online. However, get on the wrong side of Google and you could find it much more difficult to drive traffic to your site.

UK Fundraising has featured both Google Adwords and its income-generating partner version Google Adsense before, and in general recommends both as useful tools for online promotion and fundraising for charities. However, Google needs to be encouraged to ensure that it does not abuse its position.

This is not the first time that a charity has had its advert rejected by Google. UK Fundraising featured Oceana’s case on 16 February 2004.

Fortunately, following the initial rejection, Google has reversed its decision. It is currently “reviewing the ad”.