Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mission 5: A Tasteless Google Ad

I want you to do something for me. Do a Google search right now for "Down syndrome." Now check the ads that you see on the results page. My guess is that one of those ads - perhaps the top spot - is taken by a clinic offering third trimester abortions. I don't want to use the name of the clinic, because I don't want to give them any free publicity, but it rhymes with "Ace" Medical Care.

I'm painting a big bull's-eye on this ad. I would like to see it disappear. I don't care if someone sees it when they search "abortion," but people don't need to see it when they search "Down syndrome.' It's another example of a culture of normalization, a culture that repeatedly sends the message that it's okay to abort these babies. Some mothers will choose this route, and that's their choice. But I don't want this message broadcast to a woman who has just learned that her baby may have an extra chromosome. A terrified woman sitting alone, late at night at the glow of her computer, desperately searching for info about a condition she never really thought about. That woman does not need to see that ad at that time. It's disgusting.

I don't really know how to get rid of this ad. We could all write the clinic and ask that it be removed, but my guess is an abortion clinic has dealt with people more determined - and more vicious - than Oz Squad. I'm guessing we won't get far with that route. We could email Google. Again, Google may have no interest in deciding what ads to accept. We could all click the shit out of that ad every day. Run up the bill - those types of ads are paid for per click. However, there's a possibility that "Ace" Medical Care could petition Google to check the ip addresses of the clicks and get a refund. I'm not sure they can do that, but it's possible.

Does anyone have any other ideas? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?


  1. At the bottom of the search page is a link for "issues". I filled out the form and asked that the ad be NOT linked to a search for Down syndrome. There is also a page to e-mail Ad Sense directly. I will post when/if I receive a response from Google, but one thing we might want to think of - DS awareness month is October. It would be a shame if we called for a Google boycott/Ad Sense boycott during the entire month of October. I know that is where most of our blogs are hosted, but we can remove Ad Sense from our blogs and call for others to do the same, we can promote using other search engines, etc. Just a thought. :)


  2. How about the ACLU?

  3. Dan,

    The best thing to do is contact that clinic. I have run google ads before and when you create the ad you CHOOSE whatever key words you desire. So someone at Grace Medical Care sat down, created that ad, brainstormed a long list of key words -- perhaps consulting others -- and wrote them into the correct field, and pays each time someone links from that ad.

    I would suggest calling or writing them with a serious, yet not angry plea, and ask them if they would consider removing "Down syndrome" as one of their selected key words. I think your example of a "terrified woman sitting alone" would be very effective.

    (aka Lonnie Bruner)

  4. I agree with Lonnie....but also not apposed to "clicking the sh** out of the ad" as you stated....I don't know, just the mood I am in tonight I suppose. :) But, on a more serious note...yes, I hate the thought of someone just receiving a Ds diagnosis for their child finding that ad.

  5. We can pray. I also agree with Lonnie. Sometimes these missions sadden me so much. I need to deal with stupidities everyday concerning my child. This is just another case of someone who is ignorant, and shall I dare say wicked?!?!?! We need to have the strength of iron when dealing withpeople such as these. They have an agenda - we need to have one too. Thank you so much Dan for being a visionary. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it.

  6. I contacted the clinic directly. I was very kind and suggested that they remove their ad. I also contacted Google. Don't know if it will help, but doubt it can hurt! :)

  7. I just sent an email to both the clinic and to google. Hope we can get the ad removed from there.

  8. I contacted both the site and google and then the ACLU. "The ACLU also works to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities."
    This ad is an insult and any person with Ds would be upset to see it come up under Ds.

    It is degrading to persons with Ds that use google. Let the clinic put it under abortion but leave Ds out of it!!

    I emailed the clinic and I emailed the ACLU. It may not be up ACLU's alley but thats the first thing that jumped into my mind.

    An excerpt from my email...

    "When I do a search on Down syndrome your ad is the first to pop up.
    October is Down syndrome awareness month. As people become more and more enlightened about the opportunities for children with Ds, your ad promotes and encourages parents to choose the death of these precious unborn children.
    Why else would it you inject this ad under a search for Ds otherwise? "

    Oh and Google says the webmaster has to be the one to remove it. That means the source is the clinic.

    I am not eloquent in my speech or writing but I think they will get the idea. I do plan on emailing them daily until they kindly remove it.

  9. I emailed the clinic and google. How horrible of them to assume that someone searching for Down syndrome means they need info on abortions!

  10. If you email or call the clinic, it may be most effective not come from an anti-abortion (pro-life) approach. I am sure that that clinic receives hundreds, if not thousands, of anti-abortion emails and calls every single day. They are likely ignored or deleted with reading them.

    On the other hand, if you approach them saying that you respect the service they provide to society in giving safe, legal, professional abortions, but then continue to describe the value and joy that children with DS can provide many many families, you may be more convincing.

    The best approach would be to give a concrete, true story of what it was like during the 3rd trimester knowing that your baby will be born with DS. A brief description of the emotions and considerations would work well. Also, perhaps in the email you could provide the clinic with a list of alternative key words that they could use in their google ad that doesn't have anything to do with DS.

  11. Dan, I emailed the clinic. I did it from a mother's stance instead of approaching them with an attack. It's like Lonnie said - we need to be effective or they will just delete the email.

    I will email google next.

    Stay the course and keep the faith.

  12. Dan,this is what Google says:

    Remove information from Google: Contact a site's webmasterPrint
    Webmasters control websites and the content on them.
    If you've found something on the Web that you'd like to have removed, you need to contact whoever controls that content. Most often, this means that you need to contact the webmaster of the page and ask them to take down the content in question. Even if you found the objectionable content using Google, Google doesn't have control over the sites we list in our search results.

  13. One thing that I would like to point out is we need to remember that this is an advertisement to generate business. The dollar is the bottom line. They want business. From an adveritsing prospective they are getting a lot of attention and no doubt think they are in the right spot because of it.
    As for emailing them in a peaceable manner,
    I did indeed acknowledge that many people choose to seek their services and I did give them a measure of respect for providing discreet and safe alternatives. I also noted that the nature of the ad is to generate business and by targeting Down syndrome they were targeting a segment of society that has been discriminated against.
    I did try to show them that it was not to their advantage to leave the ad there.
    I know that as long as the business feels safe there, they will stay. Sad to say, many will follow if they are sucessful in continuing.
    I have to ask myself why they are the only one doing this. Are we missing something?

  14. I also emailed the clinic directly. My overall POV was pro-choice... However, I explained that their ad is displayed when people are looking for information about Down syndrome and its oft-times questionable diagnoses. These people were not asking for information about abortion or terminating a pregnancy. I kindly asked that they remove the keyword Down syndrome and focus on those searching for information about abortion. I went further to say that, I'm certain that a respectable clinic like theirs would not want to be associated with terminating perfectly healthy pregnancies based on incomplete or erroneous in-utero diagnoses by encouraging expectant mothers to jump the gun and make rash emotional decisions without adequate information. However, once a mother expecting a child diagnosed with a disability has all the pertinent information she desires and then wants information on termination, then she will google keywords such as abortion, pregnancy termination and hundreds of other possibilities which their clinic should focus on.

    Short of finding the marketing person responsible for choosing the keywords and placing the ad, I'm not sure any of this will matter. Moreover, I agree that clicking the cr*p out of the ad will only cause them to endure. Those marketing folks mostly look at number of clicks, not quality or conversion (who actually comes in to the clinic to terminate). I know... I was one of those marketing tech folks working to change spammers and junk mailers into responsible on-demand marketers for my Fortune 500 clients. I'm certain no one at the clinic is asking the women, "Where did you hear about us?" in the midst of their clinic experience. Clicking the ad may do the opposite of what we want.

    A good response would be to just bump their ad from the first spot with an informative and educational link about Down syndrome using low-cost tactics. There are ways to do this cheap and relatively easy... There's a challenge for the internet advertising tech gurus out there. Perhaps one of the national Ds foundations would consider funding a cheap ad campaign if we can figure out how to successfully bump them. Just a thought.

  15. I agree that letters are one of the best ways to reach our objective. However, if we let them know that we are going to click the ad relentlessly and cost them a fortune in ad money, they may also get the message. I am sure someone looks at the stats when paying the bill and can compare which keywords are garnering which results, and that person will see that we are serious.

  16. I'd like to add that nearly every other link on the first page offers a more informative link to information about Down syndrome. It's small consolation but...

    Gotta say, I wasn't thrilled about the 2nd ad for a Group Home for people with Down syndrome. Again, that expecting mom searching for info in the middle of the night gets hit first with termination and 2nd with putting her child away in a home (emotional read: institution). Not so good, those ads.

  17. Oh, and the reason there aren't more ads like this is probably because there are only a handful of places that do third trimester abortions and maybe the others aren't quite the tactless, greedy "ambulance chasers" that Grace Medical seems to be.

  18. I don't see the ad you mention. Either way I suspect that you would have more luck targeting Google than the Medical center itself. Here are the details about reporting an inappropriate ad on a Google site:

  19. Everytime I try it now, the ad comes up as the second in the list. Sometimes it has a different title. I wonder if we are having an effect.

  20. This Google ad is the most disturbing mission thus far for me, simply because of the "reach". I am absolutely appalled to think about a parent with a new diagnosis sitting down to research Ds and this popping up. I'll be doing my part!

  21. p.s. I had googled Ds the day this mission was posted and the clinic's ad was the first thing to come up. I just performed the same search...and it is nowhere on the page. WOW. We may already be having an impact.

  22. As far as I can tell, Grace Clinic has removed the key words Down Syndrome from their google ad. You can see here that the clinic's name does not come up.

    Well, I think this tactic worked -- the reasonable, concerned-yet-respectful approach to asking the clinic to change. It worked!