Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Like many bloggers, I use StatCounter to track activity on my sites. Today, I signed in to find two large banners advising me to “save” marriage by contacting my state legislator to block passage of a gay marriage bill in New York State. The ad was paid for by The New York Marriage Fund. Rather than link you to homophobes, I’ll send you to look at Comedy Central’s description of the organization.

I contacted StatCounter support.

I am dismayed to find that StatCounter is running banner ads opposing the passage of a gay marriage bill in New York State. I use this service in my work, and I do not appreciate being confronted with homophobia in this manner. I urge StatCounter to decline such advertising.

As I noted this ad on my Twitter feed, which is read by many bloggers who also use StatCounter, I wanted to let readers know how StatCounter replied.

Hi Jefferson,

My apologies for the inconvenience and confusion. I am *extremely* sad to hear this ad ran on our site, and that's an understatement.

We use one of the world’s largest ad providers, Google. Sadly, Google does not make it easy to keep the ads on message. You'd think they would, but they don't. Ideally we want *ONLY* relevant ads on our site yet this kind of garbage keeps slipping through. Trust me when I say it upsets all of us here at StatCounter every time something like this happens.

In the future when you see these ads you have two options :

1) Right click the ad and copy the URL, then send it to us. This is the only way we can filter it out on our side.

2) Sometimes the ads contain a link that says "Feedback - Ads by Google." Click that link and then scroll down to the link at the bottom that says "Send Google your thoughts on the site or the ads you just saw." Now do know that some ads don't have this link; why all ads don't have this is beyond me.

Once again, I am extremely sorry you had to see this trash on our site—we really do regret it.

I hope this helps clear things up. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Thank you,


Anonymous said...

oh, very nice reply.

CineKinkster said...

Glad to hear it - and definitely makes me feel good about giving my business to StatCounter.

Admin said...

Does this count as my two minutes of fame? LOL.


Eskay said...

I saw this same ad on several unlikely sites in the last week.

I think the Google algorithm finds words that are sexual, relates that to "gay" and then picks the ad because it has the word "gay."

Another way to combat this is to use the advertiser's own email program to send a letter to the legislator, just not the one they suggest. The letters are customizable, and you can send a letter in support of gay marriage even if the model was against it.

This appeals to my subversive side[s].

Anonymous said...

I wonder if google does any checking on their ads sales. For a company who tries very hard to be gay friendly you would think they'd avoid ads like this.

Mitzi said...

Google advertising works in the same way search engine marketing (SEM) does.

With SEM you create a list of applicable keywords to input into the system (Google) when someone searches something that contains your keyword(s) your sponsored link shows ups.

The Google Advertising Content Network performs on the same premise but this time Google takes your list of words and places banner ads on websites that contain the search words the advertiser has put forth. Neither the advertiser or the website has control over where/what ads go/appear.

Ari said...

This is a problem I also saw come up on livejournal, and an ongoing problem with Google ads. They seem to have no inclination to filter or tailor their content. They prefer the ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff approach.

Anonymous said...

That was such a sincere reply, ya think? So lets copy it out of a manual and make it sound good.

Alisha said...

this reply pleases me.

are you gonna let someone else on your blog please me jefferson???


oatmeal girl said...

Thanks for posting this - and for having made the complaint about it in the first place. I use Site Meter and remember seeing the same ad flash by.

Being bisexual myself, I'm obviously seen as a prime target for such material. (Yeah, right...)

If it pops up again, I'll know what to do.

(Ooh, my verification word is "bandladi"... do you think Google picks words appropriate to the use? Do you think they know about my years as an occasional musician and as a frequent so-called musician's widow?)