Update: Google provided the following official statement to All Things D:
“Google never agreed to anything more than online ads. We have consistently avoided paid sponsorships, including paying bloggers to promote our products, because these kind of promotions are not transparent or in the best interests of users. We’re now looking at what changes we need to make to ensure that this never happens again.”
Google has not officially responded to accusations that they are going against their own paid link policies by running a sponsored ad campaign promoting Chrome. Now, the company apparently behind the campaign has spoken to All Things D to clarify the matter.
We told you about a discovery made by SEO Books yesterday, detailed by Search Engine Land, that Google appeared to be sponsoring over 400 pages of content promoting Google Chrome. The content is revealed through Google search for the phrase “This post is sponsored by Google.” As Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan pointed out, the campaign goes against Google’s own policies on paid links and it is attached to the type of poorly generated content they are trying to combat.
Google has not officially responded, although Vice President of Chrome Linus Upson commented on Sullivan’s Google Plus post claiming he was unaware of the problem and would investigate the issue:
“News to me. Looking in to it…”
Scott Button CEO of video advertising firm Unruly –Google’s ad company behind the campaign– claimed the only thing wrong is “one link in one post that was not marked nofollow.” Here is what he said regarding the matter:
Yes, it’s a campaign we were running at the end of December.
There’s a good response by Andrew Girdwood here.
As far as I’m aware, there was one link in one post that was not marked nofollow. This was corrected as soon as we became aware of it.
We’re always completely upfront and transparent with bloggers that we are running commercial campaigns and who we’re working for. We always require that bloggers disclose any commercial incentive to post video content. We always require that bloggers disclose even on related tweets that they might do off their own bats.
It’s also a key part of how we operate that we don’t tell bloggers what or how to write. It’s really important that opinions expressed and the tone of voice belong to the author not the advertiser. Occasionally that leads to human error, as here, so we’re always really happy to have these kinds of example flagged and will sort them out as quickly as we possibly can.