Is this a quid pro quo or is Google infested with ruling class elitists
A spokesperson chalked up an email saying the campaign was given a deal to 'puffery.' | Reuters Close
Google denied Wednesday that it gave President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign special access to a new advertising program, something a sales representative from the search and advertising giant had claimed in an email to customers.
The new ad program would charge clients for every email address (or other piece of user data) they collect. The program is attractive to campaigns eager for that information, so when a staffer at the National Republican Senatorial Committee saw what appeared to be an Obama ad built on this technology on the RealClearPolitics website last month, she emailed a Google sales rep to ask about creating a similar ad campaign for Republicans.
The saleswoman, Sirene Abou-Chakra, replied by suggesting that Obama had a special deal.
“This is a pre-alpha product that is being released to a select few clients,” she wrote in an email, referring to the first stage of a product’s roll-out. “I’d be happy to get you into the beta if you’re interested.”
A similar email went out to at least one other Republican digital media firm, a Republican source said.
“It certainly raises some red flags that the Obama campaign appears to have been given special access to a new online advertising product,” said NRSC communications director Brian Walsh in response to an inquiry from POLITICO.
But Google spokesman Jake Parrilo denied strenuously that the Obama campaign had been granted special access to the pilot program, and chalked the email up to inaccurate “puffery” by the sales representative. The ad that appeared on RealClearPolitics, he said, was not a Google ad at all.
“This is an experiment and while we generally do not comment on those experiments we can tell you that we have not sold a single CPL [cost-per-lead] ad unit to any political candidates or committees,” said Parrillo.
And Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt seconded the company’s account that the campaign had not purchased any ads or enrolled in the Google pilot program.
Google, whose chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt was an informal adviser and support of Obama and sits on the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, has been accused in the past of favoring the White House. The Federal Trade Commission dropped an investigation into the company after a major privacy breach, leading some Republican groups to cry for an investigation.
After POLTICO asked Google about the suggestion of a special deal for the campaign, a Google spokesman forwarded a reporter correspondence between the company and the NRSC, charging - inaccurately - that the committee had been the source of POLITICO’s information.
The forward prompted Walsh to add that he is “concerned that Google shared a private email exchange with our committee and their company with the media.”
The pilot program at issue is a new type of digital advertising that Google appears to be preparing to launch in the third quarter of 2011.
“It’s a cost-effective, easy and scalable way to generate leads,” boasted Google in a marketing document about their new product. “Fewer steps for users means they’re more likely to complete your lead form.”
Parrillo told POLITICO that the Republican and the Democratic political ad sales teams at Google are kept separate and are unaware of the other side’s projects or deals.