We Don’t Sit at Separate Lunch Counters (Yet) but Google Doesn’t Want to Associate With Us

I belong to the Tucson Rifle Club. In fact, I’m a Board Member (Pistol Director) and a Match Director (IHMSA), so I get all the mailings from the Board members. It was brought to the attention of one of our members that Google, the internet search giant, wouldn’t accept advertising from gun-related businesses or organizations. So he thought he’d see what they’d do with one from a public shooting range. Here’s the unedited transcript of the e-mail exchange, TRC’s in blue, Google’s in red. The site webmaster attempted to enroll the TRC in the Google AdSense service. The exchange begins with Google’s rejection notice:

At 09:20 AM 9/29/2003, Google AdSense Support wrote:

Hello Tucson Rifle Club,

Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. After reviewing your

application, our program specialists have found that the website

currently associated with your account does not comply with our

policies. Therefore, we’re unable to accept you into Google AdSense at

this time.

We did not approve your application for the reasons listed below. If

you are able to resolve these issues, please feel free to reply to this

email for reconsideration when you have made the changes.

Issues:

– Unacceptable site content

———————

Further detail:

Unacceptable site content: Your website contains content that we do

not allow at this time. Please review our policies

(https://www.google.com/adsense/policies) for a complete list of site

content not allowed on web pages.

———————

For a complete list of AdSense criteria, please visit:

https://www.google.com/adsense/policies

https://www.google.com/adsense/terms

If you would like to submit another website for consideration, simply

reply to this email and provide us with the URL. If this new website

complies with our program policies, we will help you start delivering

AdWords ads in minutes.

Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any

questions.

Regards,

The Google Team

To which our webmaster replied:

From: John Luiten

Subject: Re: Google AdSense Account Status

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2003 10:09:38 -0700

I have reviewed your policies page once again and find nothing stated

therein that pertains to our website, “www.tucsonrifleclub.org“. Our

organization is a State sanctioned body (Arizona Department of Game & Fish)

that provides shooting range facilities to thousands of residents in the

Southern Arizona region. We have been doing so since 1895.

We also provide significant support to the local law enforcement community as well.

Would you please be specific as to which of the following of your posted

site content rules you consider our site in violation of:

“Site may not include:

Excessive profanity

Hate, violence, racial intolerance, or advocate against any individual,

group, or organization

Hacking/cracking content

Illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia

Pornography, adult, or mature content

Gambling or casino-related content

Excessive advertising

Pop-ups that interfere with site navigation or are for downloads”

Regards,

–John Luiten, Webmaster

Tucson Rifle Club

And Google promptly responded:

At 05:59 PM 9/29/2003, Google AdSense wrote:

Hello John,

Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. Our program specialists

review all websites for a variety of criteria. These include, but are not

limited to, site content, clear navigation, and the site’s potential value

to the AdSense program and the user experience.

During our review of your site, we have found content that strictly deals

with firearms and ammunition
and many of the ads that would appear on your

site would not be relevant to your site’s content. As the ads would not

provide a valuable experience for your site’s users or our advertisers, we

feel that your site isn’t a good fit for the AdSense program at this time.

Please feel free to reply to this email with any further questions. If you

manage or own another site on which you’d like to display AdWords ads, you

may reply to this email and include the URL in the message. We will then

reconsider your application. If the new site complies with our program

policies and is a fit for the AdSense program, we’ll approve your

application and allow you to run ads on that specific site.

Thank you for your understanding.

Sincerely,

The Google Team

(My emphasis) Dr. Luiten, not being one to take idiocy laying down, responded:

09/30/2003 11:05AM

Subject: Re: Google AdSense Account Status

Thank you for your prompt response. I am beginning to understand your

decision making process a bit better.

As I view the process, you would seem to have two sets of rejection

criteria: one published and one internal. In this case, your internal

rejection criteria is for sites dealing in “firearms and ammunition”, or

perhaps better stated, “firearms” since there is no reference to

“ammunition” that I can find on our site pages.

You further state that, “many of the ads that would appear on your site

would not be relevant to your site’s content.” What has this to with

advertising to potential customers? We are not looking to your service to

augment the firearm related content of our site, but as a service to our

viewers.

There are over 80 million firearm owners in the United States of America.

Firearm owners live in every state and community in this nation. We drive

cars, shop in grocery stores, eat at restaurants. You have no advertisers

currently subscribed in these areas?

Like it or not, we are your neighbors.

But perhaps you are looking for an advertising edge. A specificity in your

subscriber base to promote to potential advertisers? Then you are allowing

you biases to deprive yourself of an excellent marketing

opportunity. Tucson Rifle Club members compose a disproportionate share of

Southern Arizona’s campers, hikers, hunters, and outdoorsmen of all

types. Surely large companies specializing in sporting goods and clothing

(e.g., Cabela’s, LL Bean, Eddie Bauer) would look favorably upon reaching

such an audience?

What first led me to your AdSense service was an advertising strip of yours

on a car hobbyist website. Although several of the ad’s you listed there

referred to the specific model car this site promotes, many did

not. Indeed, they advertised “brake Jobs”, “mufflers”, “oil filters” and

the like. We may be located in the West, but I can assure you, we stopped

riding horses to the range some time ago. Are ad’s for car accessories,

especially those pertaining to OHV’s, also not relevant to our site

viewers?

I ask you to reconsider your prohibition against “firearm” related websites

(and I assume advertisers) in light of what it is, simple prejudice. Your

policy is short-sighted, exclusionary, and when it becomes known to the

general public will prove ultimately detrimental to your business goals.

Respectfully,

–John Luiten, Webmaster

Tucson Rifle Club

As of yet there has been no further response from Google, but if there is, rest assured I’ll keep you informed.

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