UUA using Google Ads

While I still think the Time magazine campaign is a costly mistake, I am heartened to see evidence (among the ads at PeaceBang) that the Unitarian Universalist Association is using Google ads, which would have been my first choice. That ad points to the special welcome page the UUA has set up.

So I wondered, what searches — assuming some are geographically pinpointed; you can do that with Google ads — will make an impression, Google-ese for placing an ad. (The UUA only pays for those clicked, so I refrained from clicking through.) This is the AdWords program.

  • Unitarian Universalist. While counterintuitive, placing an ad for your own name reinforces the authority of the site and steers traffic to you. The sidebar ad that popped up wasn’t for the UUA but the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Good move, CLF. They are also the lone ad for uu, unitarians and (shared with ChristianUniversalism.org) universalists.
  • Liberal religion gives you the CLF and the Center for Progressive Christianity.
  • Alternative to fundamentalism and fundamentalist alternative pulled no ads at all.
  • A variety of ads based on anti-racist brought up no ads.
  • Religious community pulled two ads for Catholic orders. (Fair enough.)

So perhaps the UUA is only running ads through the AdSense program — thus pushing ads into sites that accept advertising — rather than through the search engine.

I would encourage the powers-that-be, after a suitable trial, to do both.

With this post, I begin the long-overdue category Evangelism.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Thanks — I appreciate the feedback. Now I wonder what keywords pull that ads? Or perhaps it is geographically targeted (and I don’t live in a target area?)

    Can anyone comment, officially or otherwise?

  2. Here’s more informationon the UUA’s marketing outreach campaign including Google AdWords:

    The AdWords campaign is targeting both keyword searches and Google’s content network, but the ads won’t necessarily appear on every relevant search or at all times during the day, just as they won’t necessarily show up on every relevant page on the content network in any 24-hour period. UUA ads are running for at least some of the search terms you listed (as are ads for uuworld.org).

    The UUA’s national outreach effort, which launched this past fall, is focused on:
    (1) bringing a strong liberal voice to the national discourse on religion, spirituality, and values in our society and, in the process, to help to build awareness and understanding of Unitarian Universalism.
    (2) energizing and inspiring UU congregations and individuals to help share our story and to proudly and confidently bring their voices to discussions of religion and values.
    (3) creating resources such as the DVD, “Voices of a Liberal Faith,” to help congregations become as open and welcoming as possible.

    The national advertising campaign, currently running in Time magazine and Time.com, has been developed to significantly raise the visibility of Unitarian Universalism and to bring energy and focus to a multifaceted program. In addition, regional marketing campaigns have been developed over the past few years through the collaborative efforts of numerous congregations, and more are planned for the coming years.

    The Google AdWords program, which includes both keyword search and site-specific advertising activities, is just one part of this larger program. It is intended to help those who are actively searching for information about religion and spirituality find the help and the hope offered by Unitarian Universalism. Each of these outreach programs works at a different level, with different tools and different expectations. Taken together, they represent an exciting and inspiring opportunity to bring much greater awareness and understanding of Unitarian Universalism than ever before, and to offer an invitation to pay us a visit, to get involved, and to join in.

  3. Scott,

    Here is a little more info – more to the point. . The UUA’s Google AdWords program is not being restricted geographically. It is running nationally. The program has tested many dozens of key words and many different appeals in ad copy. Numerous organizations “bid” on the same key words and the reason one may not see a Unitarian Universalist Association ad displayed when a particular term is searched is that some other organization may be paying a higher price for that particular word. Key words that have worked well for us include spirituality; gay marriage, gay church, gay friendly church (for our ads that have a glbt focus); and of course, Unitarian and other variations of. During this pilot program, the goal is to test a range of key words and a variety of text ads which relate to relevant information on various pages of the UUA.org website. Decisions about continuing or expanding this program will be made after an evaluation period, early in the new year.

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