On May 31, 2012 Google made a major announcement regarding upcoming changes to their comparative shopping engine currently known as Google Product Search. If you have ever searched for an item on Google, and especially if you have hit the “shopping” link on the results, you have used this feature. The service will now be known as Google Shopping and will be a purely commercial product and the transition is to be completed by Fall 2012. The new service will be based on the model that is currently in use for Google Adwords that is a “cost per click” advertising model. Up until this point, the Google products service has been completely free and allows for all firearms and firearms components to be presented to the consumer without restriction. This is all about to change and most firearms related products will now be booted out of the search engine by this fall.
As anyone in the firearms industry that sells online knows, Google has always been anti-gun when it comes to their advertising policy. If you pay them to be included in a service, you are subject to their content policy. Their organic search, on the other hand, has always been uncensored and included all content, even firearms related. When it comes to paying Google for a service, however, it is nearly impossible to sell anything gun related on the internet except for items that are not part of the firearm. For example Google will allow advertising of a sling or a barrel wrench, but not a stock, high-capacity magazine, or a pistol grip. Even an honest attempt to comply with their “prohibited items” policy seemed to be futile as ad campaigns seemed to be rejected randomly based upon the interpretation of their policy by an individual reviewer. I had ads for products such as bipods and optics run for months, only to be rejected later with no explanation other than “content policy violation. The new Google Shopping service will be subject to the same content policy that is in place for Google Adwords. This means that all firearms, ammunition, and parts will not fall into their “family friendly” requirement and will be rejected from the shopping search engine.
This is a very unfortunate turn for those of us in the firearms industry, one of the few industries that has actually been doing quite well during these tough economic times. I would gladly pay Google to continue to be included in their comparative search engine but it appears they do not want my money and instead will be excluding us along with other undesirables such as online gambling, prostitution, and drug paraphernalia.