Google Captures Cougars And Releases Them Into The Wild

A dating website for older women looking for younger men is no longer able to advertise in the Google Content Network. The website has told The New York Times that its advertisements have been removed from the Content Network because Google deemed them “non-family safe”.

Claudia Opdenkelder, founder of, said the campaign, which cost $100,000 USD a month, generated referrals that accounted for almost two thirds of its traffic. On an interesting side note, Opdenkelder knows her target market well. She is 39 and lives with her 25-year-old boyfriend.

In an e-mail to, a Google representative said, “The Policy Team is sticking pretty strongly with their assertion that the concept of “Cougar Dating” will be classified as Non-Family Safe for the time being. We’re hoping to revisit this policy with them in the future.”

Clearly, Google AdWords is not banning all dating site, so why this sector?  Google has a list of “trigger words” that flag sites as non-family safe. However, these tasks are not completely automated. They usually just throw up a red flag and prompt a manual look and approval (or in this case disapproval).

The use of the word “cougar” is not just a red flag for Google. The American television viewing public is also not a fan. “Cougar Town”, a Courtney Cox show on ABC was renewed for another season. That is the good news. The bad news is they may be dropping the title, according to Apparently, the title has kept people away from the show. Replacing the word “Cougar” with “Mellencamp” is probably not the solution that the television show is looking for either.

From Cougar Town to, evidently the stigma continues. “We just want to be treated the same way as all the others, and the discrimination against the word ‘cougar’ makes it even worse,” Opdenkelder told The Vancouver Sun. “It makes us  feel like dirty perverts. I’ve been trying to fight so hard on every interview that I do that the old stigma on cougars doesn’t exist anymore, and that we’re just strong, powerful independent women who just happen to enjoy dating younger men.” is a self-proclaimed “premier online dating service that pairs women in their prime with younger men and ends the double standard”. Well, maybe the double standard does not end. In fact, Google allows dating sites of various ages, religion, and sexual preferences. Websites that serve older men seeking younger women are not banned, nor are sites where younger women can seek rich older men.

“It’s just wrong all around,” Opdenkelder told The New York Times. “It’s age and gender discrimination. It’s just about older, successful, independent, strong women who enjoy someone that’s younger. Some of the men sites, they are borderline prostitution, and Google has no problem having them advertise”.

One such site is, the very appropriate, boasts itself as “Sugar Daddy service catering to ambitious and attractive girls seeking successful and generous benefactors to fulfill their lifestyle needs”. Getting past the creepiness factor of that last statement, how is that any different than Interestingly enough, and are owned by the same company, Avid Life Media.

To recap: Old rich men looking to pay for young women, good. Older woman looking for a relationship with younger men, bad. Double standard?  Apparently so Mrs. Robinson, apparently so.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Legal | Search Headlines


About The Author: is a frequent search industry speaker and blogger, although he has spent most of his career as an in-house Online Marketing Manager. Working from this perspective has provided John with an understanding of high demand and budget concerns as it relates to marketing. He can also be found at and on Twitter @JohnWEllis

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  • alforque

    I’ve seen Spam for this website littering various Blogs (including I wonder if this played into part of Google’s decision? And the website is just playing the “free press” angle?

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