Private entrepreneurs are not the only ones using Google’s AdWords platform to showcase their wares. According to an article in the Financial Times, the American Government has been making use of AdWords in a bid to ensnare terrorists and control terrorism.
The United States government are buying AdWords units that link to a page on the America.gov portal, telling America’s side of the story.
This page shows various subjects of international interest such as America’s foreign policy matters, the up-coming U.S. presidential elections, human rights stories, Middle East topics, peacekeeping, confronting terrorism and the US’s work with NATO.
The (rather unrealistic) intention might be to try and lure terrorists who show an undue interest in these stories and thus crack down on terrorism. The ads are visible to Internet visitor on the content network and to searchers looking for keywords such as “terrorism”, “Middle East peace”, “human rights”, “press freedom”, “renewable energy”, “food aid” and “US elections”. The ads are only shown to Google users in Canada, the UK and the UAE.
Jonathan Margolis from the Bureau of International Information Programs, which has released these ads says, “We are trying to engage, inform and influence foreign audiences. Before you can do either of the last two you have got to find some way to engage them . . . We found that when you launch a website and if you want to attract a target audience, Google ads are a very effective way of drawing people to the site.”
The U.S. government is spending $25,000-$30,000 per month on these ads and and additional $15,000 per month on ads in Farsi and Arabic, which have generated about 300,000 impressions per month.
Surely the US could have thought of better ways to spend that money rather than trying to buy a change in public opinion?