UPDATE: Diana Adair, a spokeswoman for Google, responded to our article on Friday. While she could not comment on specific ads, she does note that there’s nothing in Google’s policy that prohibits ads for dietary supplements – only “those that promise exaggerated gains with minimal effort.”
Google’s written policy notes that this includes “weight-loss products that claim a significant amount of weight loss in a very short time frame or without dieting” and “diet products that specify a specific weight loss goal within a certain time frame”; while Nuvoryn’s testimonials do brag about pounds melting off, the company does stop short of outright promising similar results without any dieting. As we suspected, then, it seems the site stays in compliance by being careful with its phrasing and avoiding explicit claims.
The fake news site is another question, though. Adair says that while Google does not have a separate policy for such sites, ads linking to such sites would in many cases not be allowed under the “misleading and inaccurate claims” policy. Once again, though, the company will not comment on individual ads, so it’s unclear whether Google plans to take action against this advertiser.
Steve Wernikoff, an attorney with the FTC who has handled some of those cases, says that while he can’t comment on pending investigations or court cases, the agency continues to look into advertisements masquerading as legitimate news sites.
“I think there’s probably some folks that haven’t gotten the memo yet, but it’s still something we continue to be concerned about,” he says. “If someone makes a representation that their site is objective journalism, when in fact it’s an advertisement, that’s enough to start an investigation.”