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UK.gov drops £6m on Google

Fat dollar spent on health advice sites

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Four Whitehall departments gave Google and similar search engines more than £6m in two years to encourage web users to do more exercise, emit less CO2 and stop smoking, among other initiatives.

Figures released this week show the Department of Health has been the biggest search spender, paying £4.4m to promote websites including on pandemic flu.

The Department for Communities and Local Government spent £758,000 on keywords related to its websites, including information on the scrapped Home Information Pack scheme. It also paid Google to push its "Eco-towns" initiative, an as-yet-unbuilt network of new town meant to promote environmentally-friendly development.

Meanwhile the Department of Energy and Climate Change spent £310,000 in just one year. As The Register reported earlier this year, that included bidding for climate change keywords against one of its own quangos, driving up the price per click.

The Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs spent £540,000, also partly on CO2 reduction campaigns.

The figures were released in response to Parliamentary questions from Tory MP Damian Hinds.

Since coming to power the coalition has imposed a moratorium on government advertising spending, and an ongoing Cabinet Office review aims to slash 75 per cent of the government's 820 websites. ®

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