When News Outlets Bid on Tragedy…

- April 25, 2007

It is a common methodology for advertisers to utilize SEM to coincide with their natural search rankings. Running sponsored ads with promotions, sales, special dates, etc. can increase brand awareness and improve sponsored ad click-through-rates. Additionally, it is an easy way for advertisers to place higher on a page than competitors who appear only in the natural results.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise when news outlets bid on ‘hot terms’ in SEM to receive higher traffic volumes than sites solely producing organic results. However, when a media agency seemingly exploits a tragedy in the news by bidding on a related keyword, can it be harmful to the organization?

For instance, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many other high profile media outlets bid on keywords relating to the recent Virginia Tech tragedy. These agencies targeted the many online users searching for any updates and available news. While any big event can trigger like behavior from media agencies and the practice is becoming commonplace, are ‘tragedy keywords’ crossing the line of tactfulness?

The full article broaching this subject can be found at: Media Mine Web Searches for Readers.

Points to Ponder:
– Is it in bad taste for companies to bid on certain words?
– Is there a threshold that advertisers should avoid?
– Does it come down to individual choices made by advertisers based on social paradigms?

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