Google has been slammed recently for supposedly refusing a fashion company to advertise its clothing aimed towards ‘curvy or plus-size’ people. The unnamed brand has claimed the search engine rejected their request to advertise with them, stating that the reason behind this was because the advert was targeted specifically at larger women. The issue started when the clothing brand attempted to buy Google advertising through Wordstream, a company which allows clients to promote their products through Google’s Gmail service.
The search engine uses a system called AdWords, which lets advertisers target specific audiences. It works by scanning customers’ emails searching for specific words people use. Google then uses these keywords to show customers specific adverts which relates to these keywords. Although this is Google’s usual technique for targeting adverts to its audience, it has now been revealed that Google will no longer allow firms to target individuals based on their body type.
The backlash seemed to have been caused because it appeared Google were uncomfortable using their regular scanning system to search for supposedly negative words, such as keywords which relate to body type. Commenting on the situation, Google have reportedly said “Given the unique nature of Gmail ads and how users interact with these ads, we’ve developed an additional layer of policy requirements specific to Gmail ads. At this time, Gmail Advertising policy does not permit promotion of products and services that target individuals with negative physical attributes such as plus-size, curvy.”
In a blog post, Wordstream have admitted they were surprised by Google’s decision to ban the advert, especially as the ad “doesn’t explicitly mention anything about body type or size such as ‘plus size” or curvy'”. They added “It’s kind of crazy. Plus-size people exist and are a legitimate demographic. In fact, plus-size is the norm rather than the exception. One would assume that a display ad featuring conventionally skinny models (people whose bodies look nothing like the average consumer) wouldn’t raise any red flags. But if you sell clothing, you have to target some kind of ‘body type’ – all humans have bodies. Why are plus-size ads being singled out for ‘body type targeting’?”