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“Curvy” Targeting Is Banned For Gmail Advertisers

In an email, a rep for Google AdWords refers to “plus-size” and “curvy” as “negative physical attributes.” The company calls the email “poorly worded.”

1. This week, Google’s paid advertisement division, AdWords, rejected one clothing company’s Gmail ad because it was targeted at people whose Gmail correspondence contained the words “curvy” and/or “plus-size.”

2. Online ad agency WordStream detailed the disapproval of their client’s Gmail ad in a January 14 blog post, which has since been removed. Here are screenshots of the post.

4. An AdWords customer service representative rejected the ad under the company’s “body-type and personality-type targeting” rules. The rep called “plus-size” and “curvy” “negative physical attributes.”

5. In her blog post, WordStream’s Elisa Gabbert argues that plus-size retailers, who must use more specific language than their straight-size counterparts, are put at a disadvantage by the policy.

“One would assume that a display ad featuring conventionally skinny models (people whose bodies look nothing like the average consumer) wouldn’t raise any red flags,” she wrote. “But if you sell clothing, you have to target some kind of ‘body type’ – all humans have bodies. Why are plus-size ads being singled out for ‘body type targeting’?”

It’s unclear that plus-size ads are actually singled out — on its support page, Google says it bans all advertising against body or personality types. However, whether or not plus-size ads are singled out, this means that plus-size retailers are unable to effectively target potential customers in Gmail.

6. Though the logo in WordStream’s blog post was blurred out, the ad appears to belong to plus-size retailer Ashley Stewart.

Calls to Ashley Stewart were not immediately returned.

7. A Google spokesperson tells BuzzFeed that they have adjusted the language used in AdWords emails enforcing their “body-type targeting” policy.

“We have very specific policies on the types of ads we allow in Gmail,” says the spokesperson. “The email our team sent to explain this was poorly worded and we’ve made changes to fix this moving forward.”

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