The saga of the Google changes that are cutting access to natural health and integrative content continues. The Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) suddenly had all its Google advertising summarily removed. Phoenix integrative pain doctor Michael Cronin, ND first saw all of his clinic’s Google ads for two leading edge pain strategies taken down. Then his clinic’s ads related to women’s health and family medicine supporting his partner’s practice also were removed. AIHM’s are back up after much negotiation, but still amidst mystery that seems to lead directly into the belly of the big data beast. Cronin gained some clarity about actions against his advertising, without stilling concerns. This article offers guidance based on what each experienced and has learned, plus perspectives from natural products quality expert Michael Levin who has feet in both the natural products and pharma camps.
Most involved in integrative and functional medicine have by now heard of how traffic on scores of integrative health and natural products websites dropped 50%-95% via the cutting stroke of changes quietly made by Google leaders. I summarized and commented on the reporting of others in Self-Interested Whims of the Oligarchs: Google and Facebook Kill Access to Alternative and Integrative Medicine. The bias in the title was my judgement based. More questions than answers remain. I chose to explore further via a colleague of 30 years, medical writer, Erik Goldman. The traffic at his relatively conservative website, Holistic Primary Care (HPC), the hard-copy broadsheet for which he serves as founding editor, was one of those whacked. Goldman, who will host a panel on the Google issues at HPC‘s “Practitioner Channel Forum” (April 23-24 at the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport) offers a look under the covers at Google’s actions that seem to have motivations somewhere between unintended consequences and an external pernicious influences of the first order.
The Integrator article two issues ago on Google’s activities that precipitously gouged traffic at key websites (Self-Interested Whims of the Oligarchs: Google and Facebook Kill Access to Alternative and Integrative Medicine) immediately drew a range of responses. Longtime medical journalist Erik Goldman shared the remarkable diminution of traffic at his Holistic Primary Care site. Some spoke of organizing efforts. At the same time, other good analyses have been published. New information regarding Google’s growing partnerships with members of the medical industry and particularly pharmaceutical giants has come out. And there is an interesting coincidence of Google’s choice of dance partners as it matures and measures it global strategy and the corporate decision to excise its cheeky formative promise to “Don’t Be Evil”. Is it time to wonder whether there is a next level war for access emerging?