Google has made millions of dollars from companies selling steroids through Google’s contextual ad service. But Google was assisted by mainstream news outlets like NYTimes.com and CNN.com who displayed the ads offering “steroids for sale.”
Michael Arrington recently commented on this at TechCrunch:
The problem with automated advertising on news sites has always been the placing of inappropriate ads next to serious news issues.
Many news/media websites posted editorials complaining about the dangers of anabolic steroids and the role of the internet in facilitating steroid sales only to provide links for consumers to buy steroids (and receive payment from Google for displaying those links).
Most of the ads shown recently are not for real pharmaceutical anabolic steroids (although some ads still slip through) but OTC supplements with names that sound like steroids. Google has actually made efforts to prevent advertisers from selling steroids using their service that seem to more effective that efforts at YouTube at preventing piracy.
Victor Conte of BALCO likely made millions promoting ZMA through Google Ads. Mainstream news services published countless stories about his involvement in the recent sports steroids scandals not to mention stories about his star client, Barry Bonds. The countless stories surely provided considerable ad revenue for news sites offering coverage of the BALCO scandal courtesy Victor Conte (via Google Ads).
Another example of how all publicity is good publicity (and very profitable in some cases).