Google Ads, the worlds largest ad delivery platform, has now taken a stand against the Second Amendment.
In their updated terms of service, emailed to all program participants on September 30, 2019, Google Ads announced that they will be throttling ad revenue to pages that relate to “Guns, gun parts and related accessories.”
As a result, gun related websites that rely on ad traffic will see decreased revenue.
Google is clear that as a result of this new policy, “fewer advertising sources will be eligible to bid on [web space]. In some cases this will mean that no advertising sources are bidding on your inventory and no ads will appear on your content.” In other words, if you write about guns, expect to see revenues fall.
The constitutionality of this action is not an issue – as a private company, Google has the right to discriminate against pro-Second Amendment websites and gun related web traffic. That is not to say, however, that this will be an action without consequences. Firearms focused websites that rely on Google Ads are left with limited options.
Google: You Cannot Escape
Google Ads has a 26.17% market share of all online advertising. They have an 88.61% market share on all search traffic globally. Companies like Dicks Sporting Goods have felt the wrath of pro-2A advocates in the past. Google, however, is simply too large to be significantly impacted by a boycott. An attempted boycott is unlikely, as it is almost impossible to be completely independent of Google’s technology.
This may be a savvy move for Google. Public pressure is mounting for Congress to do “something” to curb gun violence. The legal landscape is unclear. Current measures are widely considered to be ineffective, but Google is hedging with popular opinion.
Where Google goes, other companies often follow suit. Though there is no gun friendly alternative available, look for a smaller competitor to take advantage of this opportunity. 43% of Americans have a gun in the house. Those 141 Million Americans are an audience companies will compete to serve.
Guns and the Second Amendment have not yet made Google’s list of Publisher Policies. Making that list would cut them off from ad revenue entirely. Perhaps this is a test to gauge the potential financial impact. If you write about guns, the Second Amendment, or are friendly to either: expect to see a steep drop in revenue from Google Ads moving forward.