Google is running home page ads pushing people to get registered to vote

Google is upping its efforts at getting its U.S. users registered to vote, via a pop-up ad that now appears directly on the desktop home page. The company has historically made an effort to help web users get registered to vote and find answers to their voting-related questions by placing instant answers in its Search results. That has continued this year, as voter searches were redirected to answers about the registration process, deadlines, poll hours and more.

However, adding a pop-up on the home page is a much more forceful effort on the search giant’s part in terms of increasing the number of registered voters.

Before the ad, voter registration information in the search results was only triggered by searches for related keywords — like “how to vote” or “register to vote,” for example. That means the information was being presented only to those who’ve already decided to at least investigate the voter registration process, or who are perhaps preparing to register in the near future.

The pop-ad ad, meanwhile, commands the attention of anyone who visits in the U.S. That’s a lot of people — according to comScore, Google sites account for 64 percent of the desktop search share, and see more than 10 billion searches per month.


The ad doesn’t appear with every search query, it seems. But it will, on occasion, pop up and remain in the bottom-right corner of the home page. The ad’s text reads “Make sure you’re ready to vote” and offers a link to “Register now.” You can dismiss the ad by clicking the “NO THANKS” button, but the more prominent blue button instead encourages a further click to “LEARN HOW.”

This will take you to the voter registration information Google has already gathered. (Since this summer, Google has been steadily rolling out registration information, voting information and even voting information in Spanish in its search results.)

It’s fairly rare for Google to utilize its home page in support of a cause. Typically, the Google home page remains the blank, clean slate with the logo and search box that serves as millions of people’s jumping off point to the web. Over the years, Google has been hesitant to clutter it with extraneous information.

However, at times, the company has pushed its own products and services on the home page, through small links. For example, in the past we’ve seen links for Android smartphones or Google+. 

More recently, the home page has sported pop-up ads that encourage users to sign up for AdWords — something indicative of how critical the ad business is to the company as more of consumers’ internet activity shifts to mobile and apps. These ads, too, appear as pop-ups.

In the case of the voter registration push, however, Google isn’t limiting itself to the pop-up nag — it has also begun to alert users in various states when it’s the last day to get registered. These informational messages appear at the bottom of the search page.

Google isn’t the only web company involved in a voter registration push, of course — Google-owned YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and others are involved in similar efforts.

The companies’ goals are simple: Getting more people registered means more people will actually vote, studies have shown. For instance, 86 percent of registered voters also voted in the November 2012 election, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, as Google had previously noted.