Google requests AdWords service be exempted from FEC rule

Google has asked the Federal Elections Commission for an exemption from rules requiring disclaimers on campaign ads generated by its AdWords service. The marketing tool provided by Google sells tailored ads that only appear when someone has searched for designated keywords. The ads are small—only 95 characters in all—and only paid for when an internet user clicks on them. 

Because of the abbreviated nature of the ads, Google has asked it be granted a pass under the “small items” exception the FEC applies to other mediums such as text messages and bumper stickers. 

In the request written to the FEC, the internet giant says the text ads are different from television or newspaper ads in that they only direct traffic to a candidate’s website and don’t explicitly endorse a candidate—or in Google’s words, “make a final sale.”  

Google says that requiring a disclaimer would eliminate AdWords as a medium all together, thus hurting candidates not operating with lots of cash and “enhance the role big-money contributions play in the outcome of political campaigns.”

The FEC has not issued a response yet, but if the regulatory agency denies the request, Google has proposed that the URL included in the ad fulfill the requirement by displaying the candidate’s website.That website’s landing page should then display a regular disclaimer.