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Using Adwords for Community Advocacy

Can I setup an ad to say Boycott {Business Name}

4:08 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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One of our major Grocery Stores, have decided that they want to build a Gas station next to a pristine lake in our community, just before the city was to change the zoning from commercial to parkland.

Everybody we talked to is totally against, this and we plan on setting up a boycott.

I figured that local search would be great feature to get the message out about the boycott. Would Google allow this?

I did a search on this, but I get tons of responses about people wanting to boycott Google, instead of using Google as a tool for the common good.
8:28 pm on Sept 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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adwords sends people to a landing page. do you have a website for this?

you could take a bunch of good quality pictures of how it is now. then paste in a picture of one of their gas stations.

put the before-and-after pics and the story on a website, and spread the word.
11:55 am on Sept 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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No trouble with a website, showing the pristine lakefrontage destined to be a park, but grab by an evil corporation, and about to become urban sprawl, any month now.

I have never seen a boycott ad, and wonder if it could be banned (or is already restricted) by Google.

Or is Google only concenred about user experience and relevence. In which case we would get a Quality Score of 10.
4:30 am on Sept 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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As long as you are running the ads to be informative, you shouldn't have a problem. If you are telling people NOT to shop at that location or use their services then you could be voliating AdWords T&C's.

Wouldn't hurt to email support to get their feedback first, you don't want to end up getting the account or domain suspended.
5:47 am on Sept 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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In some contexts it can be illegal to organize a business boycott, so before you undertake this get qualified, experienced legal advice.

A big enough boycott would certainly get the attention of corporate executives, but try also to match it with ways to put some positive spins on the campaign. The goal here is to get the corporate decision reversed, so to start with, figure out exactly who would need to be convinced. Who are the power brokers here, and what makes them tick?

Figure out positive ways to convince them that changing this plan could be a big public relations win. Concepts like "socially responsive", "save our treasured parkland areas" and so on would likely have more useful effects on the decision makers than verbiage like "evil corporation". Even if it's tempting to say very critical things, make sure that negatives aren't the only thread in the tapestry. Make sure the campaign includes something positive for the decision makers to grab hold of so they could reverse the decision without losing face.

As a practical matter, using AdWords for search to promote social action would be tricky (even assuming your ads were approved), because the only people who would see the ads would be those already looking for the topic. That would likely be only a small percentage of the folks you'd hope to reach.

IMHO you'd have a better chance to spread the word with ads on the display / content network. Choose local geo-targeting, obviously, and target every audience available. Don't just run text ads, get some good banners made in every size that the display network uses. A well-designed banner could tell a lot more of the story than a text ad ever could, so get visual. While you're at it, get some graphics made the right size for use in Facebook ads.

If you're attempting to blanket a local area with online ads, give some thought to frequency caps and ad rotations so you don't end up showing the same ad to the same person too many times per day. A common rule of thumb in advertising is that the average person needs to see the message at least seven times before they'll take action, so don't be afraid of some repetition. But set limits where you think they'd make sense.

Invest in a memorable, informative domain name and try to get coordinating user names for the major social media channels. Use social media to publicize the cause (including Facebook ads), and think carefully about where and how people should be funnelled who find you in assorted media contexts. You want people to be able to move through all your information without gaps, and also without feeling that they're running in circles.

Work to drum up offline coverage, too. That could range from posters on fences to prime-time TV interviews, all of which make a point of mentioning the website. This situation deserves a multi-pronged effort!

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!