How Much Does the Church of Scientology Spend on Advertising?
The Church of Scientology has, for a long time, been putting a lot of money into advertising, most recently with the super expensive-looking Super Bowl ad embedded above and their disastrous attempt at running sponsored content in The Atlantic.
But if you’re one of the five people in the world who doesn’t use Adblock, you might have noticed that they sometimes pop up as the sponsored result when you google things.
So how much are they paying to do this?
I’ll do my best to explain this as quickly as possible, because it’s pretty boring. Here’s how cost-per-click advertising works on Google: a company sets a maximum bid that they’re willing to pay for an internet user to click on one of their ads. These bids are associated with keywords that internet users type when searching. Based on the ad’s relevance to searched keywords and the maximum amount that the advertiser is willing to pay per click, Google determines where to place those ads.
For example, if a dessert company wanted their ads displayed any time a user searches for “ice cream cakes,” it would cost, at the time of writing this article, about $0.60 per click in English-speaking countries.
To figure out how much Scientology pays, I tried to advertise for Scientology myself. I set my maximum bid at one dollar per click and selected multiple keywords involving Scientology. All of my bids were rejected, meaning that the person who is currently paying to advertise on those terms is paying more than a dollar per click.
In order to advertise on the first page of Google’s search results for Scientology-related searches, I would have to shell out a minimum of three dollars per click for “creed of the Church of Scientology.”
Google Knows What You Search For, Pervert
Note: the findings in this piece were accurate at the end of 2012. If you search Google Trends right now, at this very second, you might find different results. For example, as of January 21, 2013, Pakistan is the country that has dug into Google most often about “terrorism.” Feel free to poke around Google Trends yourself. It’s fun.
I want to congratulate the Australian and American readers. You’ve won. You sick fucks. Why were you searching Google for videos of guys putting needles in their balls or castrating themselves? Did you think that your searches would go unnoticed? You might think that you’re anonymous on the web, but Google knows who you are.
Curiosity gets the best of us sometimes. We’ve become so accustomed to having Google at our fingertips that we forget the power of what it does. We forget what it tracks. While Google can’t publish the confidential stuff, they do release a zeitgeist every year. The 2012 Zeitgeist is largely a redundant list of things everyone already knows. We know Gangmam Style was huge, we know The Hunger Games was a hit, we know everyone wants to know about the next big Apple product.
Sure, Zeitgeist has some significance in demonstrating cultural waves year after year. But what does it exclude? What do people search at 3 AM that they wouldn’t dare post to Facebook?
On Google Trends you can search anything you want. I took the opportunity to search for unusual fetishes, crude slang, and disturbing ideas. The results from this highly scientific experiment were truly surprising.
Related trendy searches for “how to make a bomb.”
Type in orgasm and you’ll find Zambia has searched it the most. Pakistan is curious about horse porn; South Africa wants to know how to make a bomb; Ghana is worried about gonorrhea; Nigeria, well, they searchedterrorism more than others. The list goes on, and despite every country in the G20 having access to the internet, some developing countries blew others out of the water when it came to taboo searches. But we’ll get to that later.
Google Trends doesn’t calculate the total number of searches made for a particular word. Instead, the search engine uses relative volumes. Since Kenya searched dog porn the most, the relative volume is 100. Next came Pakistan with the volume of 64, and India with 49. These numbers tell us that if people in Kenya searched dog porn approximately 100 times, Pakistan searched it 64 times, etc.
Google Trends, and the Zeitgeist in particular, reflects moments that capture what’s going on in the world. The results are mirrored in a graph that also depicts points in the year where the media publishes a story on the topic.