Picasa ads provoke interesting search results

As the economy continues to falter, it looks like Google's decided it can't afford not to run ads alongside its various Web properties. Last month, Google added search ads to Google News, sparking off controversy between itself and the publishers it depends on for content. This week, it's adding ads alongside search results within its photo-sharing site Picasa. And the results are more than a little creepy.

According to CNET's Stephen Shankland, Picasa is simply joining the rest of Google's newly ad-annointed sites, including Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Finance, Google News and image search. Google's avoiding running ads alongside personal photo galleries and photo pages, and instead is running them solely on photo search result pages. Shankland offers this innocuous screenshot showing results from a search for "Honda Accord":

picasa search ads

That's all well and good, but think about more common searches for a site storing an individual's private photos, say a search using the keyword "grandma". Unfortunately, a test search for "grandma" returns photo results of sweet-looking elderly women alongside their happy grandchildren, but the ad that runs alongside? It's for "Dirty Girls in Your Area" from SinglesNet.com:

When Google started tagging images in Picasa, many users took exception to the technology's privacy implications, and some even quit using the program. While adding advertising to Picasa may seem like a logical step toward monetizing Google's free technologies, blunders like this may just end up with them losing more than they gain.

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