Online Marketing

Google ads for Aussie businesses appear on white supremacist website

Cara Waters /

Australian businesses have had advertising running on a white supremacist website following an error by Google.

Mumbrella reports ads for businesses including, Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and the Australian Institute of Management were being displayed on The White Voice website.

The White Voice website also advertises the book Murdering Multiculturalism and runs stories including “5 questions whites must ask themselves after the Islamist terror attack in Paris,” and “Facts & consequences about young white women taking black men to bed”.

The Google ads have since been removed from the site.

Google declined to comment to SmartCompany on how the mistake occurred or on how businesses can ensure ads do not appear on hate websites in the future.

“We do not allow ads on websites that promote hatred, racial intolerance or violence,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“We deploy a mixture of automated and human review systems to make sure that ads only show on websites that meet our policies. We are constantly investing in new resources that tackle bad website behavior.”

Jim Stewart, search engine optimisation expert and chief executive of StewArt media, told SmartCompany it is likely the ads were served through display remarketing where the ads a user sees are based on the sites the user has already visited. 

“I would say a lot of these ads that are being seen are based on the ads being customized to those users,” he says.

Stewart says Google may have broken AdSense’s terms of service by serving the ads on a hate site.

“Google wouldn’t normally allow ads on a site like that and it looks like Google has fixed it now,” he says.

Stewart says businesses can ensure the placement of Google ads by using Google’s exclusions functions.

“If you are an advertiser you can exclude sites, such as competitors, and you can do this by category,” he says.

“You just have to be careful when you are setting up your AdWords and remarketing to think about who you want to exclude and what sites you want to exclude your ads from appearing on.”

SmartCompany contacted, Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and the Australian Institute of Management for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.

Cara Waters

Cara Waters is a former SmartCompany editor. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter for the Financial Times' website and worked for The Sunday Times in London.