Google Pulls Imus Related Keywords?

    April 13, 2007

It hasn’t been a good week for long-time shock jock Don Imus. After his controversial comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, his Imus in the Morning radio show was quickly dumped by both MSNBC and CBS. The events surrounding the scandal have had an interesting impact on the search world as well.

Prior to CBS axing the Imus program, several major sponsors pulled their advertising from the show, which no doubt was a major factor in the network’s decision to pull it from the airwaves.

In an interesting spin, it appears that Google may also have pulled sponsored advertising from Imus-related searches as well. Current queries for the I-Man point to current promotion of a book discussing the subject of racist commentary as TMZ’s ongoing coverage of the event.

ClickZ’s Rebecca Lieb has a theory as to why all other sponsored links have suddenly vanished:

Haven’t had a chance to verify this, but it certainly appears as if Google took a rapid and decisive step to un-associate their advertisers from the search term in the wake of the firing (and advertisers such as Verizon and American Express dropping their sponsorship of the show). Yahoo and MSN didn’t do anything.

If Google did pull the sponsored links, it will be interesting to find out whether the advertising partners themselves requested removal, or if Google made an executive decision to yank the ads.

Will this become a trend in the future? If Google does have a blanket policy of pulling advertising, how will that affect partners that actually want to be associated with a controversial figure in the news in order to drive viral traffic to their sites? Is Google now going to begin exercising its own brand of moral authority in advertising?

Or, perhaps this is all just some wacky coincidence. I’m interested to hear what Google has to say about this matter.