This is an interesting case of what appears to be a forgotten SEM Campaign at the Washington Post. I’ve been intrigued by Adwords campaigns which promote newspapers through headline keywords in search ads. Clearly they are meant to gain readership for those publications running the news-focused ads.
Since virtually all major pubs cover big stories like the Yahoo vs Microsoft acquisition fight, it isn’t that odd to see search ads run against news. Here’s an Adsense ad that popped up on a blog post I wrote pondering why everyone is out to lynch Jerry Yang. The ad simply uses the headline “Jerry Yang” and the copy reads “Yahoo CEO steps down, cofounder takes his place”
Now that isn’t so odd that the Washington Post wants to advertise against news, but the odd thing is advertising against OLD NEWS. Did they forget this campaign? Who’s managing those ads guys?
My headline on the post that produced that contextual ad was “NY Times as Yahoo Armchair CEO for Jerry Yang” so it is well targeted, just old, since it is currently pointing at the story about Terry Semel stepping down and Yang taking his place – which ran exactly one year ago at the Washington Post.
When I saw the ad, my heart sank, as I’m seriously opposed to Yang stepping down. I hope he displays as much fortitude against the rising tide of opposition to his leadership as he did against the monster Microsoft as they distracted him for 5 or 6 months from running his company. But when I visited the page the ad linked to, I felt relieved since it was inaccurate.
Should it be journalistically acceptable to run ads against news that is completely wrong? Yes, I know if you read it carefully, you’d figure out it’s not likely Filo stepping in to fill Yang’s shoes – but those ads are not meant to be read carefully – they rely on impulse. My immediate response was “Oh, NO! Say it ain’t so!” when I looked at the display URL in the ad and it said Washingtonpost.com/technology
Fortunately, that ad was not what it seemed. But this suggests to me that search ads that are run against news headlines should be VERY carefully managed.