MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Google has put its paw down with respect to ads promoting cougars, not the cats but women of a certain age who prefer the company of younger men. The search giant reclassified websites for cougars as "non-family safe" or adult. That means they will no longer appear on Google’s content network, which places ads on more than 6,700 websites, including Ask.com, YouTube and MySpace.
The story is getting a lot of ink because Google has not made the same decision for sites promoting “dating” among older men and younger women. It appears as if a rather obvious double-standard is in play, even though ads for cougar sites will still be visible next to search results.
The news about the policy change was not made publicly by Google, but rather was delivered via CougarLife.com, a dating site that caters to this special breed of couple.
“Last week, CougarLife.com, which was paying Google $100,000 a month to manage its advertising and place it on content pages, was notified by the company that its ads, which had been appearing since October, would no longer be accepted,” reported The New York Times. “Google confirmed that ‘cougar’ would now automatically place a site into the adult category, but would not say which other words would do that.
CougarLife.com then offered to change the ad to exclude images of older women and younger men, but was told by its Google representative that “the policy is focused particularly around the concept of ‘cougar dating’ as a whole.”
Needless to say, the founder of CougarLife.com is unhappy with the decision, despite the press the story is generating.
“It’s just wrong all around,” Claudia Opdenkelder told the Times. “It’s age and gender discrimination. It’s just about older, successful, independent, strong women who enjoy someone that’s younger. Some of the men sites, they are borderline prostitution, and Google has no problem having them advertise.”
Ironically, CougarLife’s parent company, Avid Life Media, also operates a traditional “sugar daddy" service called ArrangementSeekers.com, which can still advertise on Google’s content network, though some of the site’s ads have been rejected.
Meanwhile, Facebook has no such issue with the Toronto-based CougarLife.com, which spends a reported $100,000 a month on the social networking site.
Opdenkelder told the Times she was looking into legal options open to her in both Canada and the United States.