09 June 2010

Buying Google Ads Is Not a Crime

I think it's safe to say I haven't been too kind to BP in the past couple of weeks.  But when I saw a bunch of "mainstream" media breathlessly report that the company bought up all the sponsored links on Google searches about the oil spill - like that was some sort of scandal - I had to chuckle.

Buying search ads is one of the first things I'd do if I worked for them.

You can take issue with the way the company has addressed the crisis.  You can take issue with the content of the ad itself. You can at least make an argument that the company doesn't need any more attention and shouldn't ask for it.  But at least on this, the company has something to say in their own voice and has the right to buy an ad.  It's really not any different than buying an ad in a relevant section of a newspaper.

This isn't a transparency issue.  Ads are clearly marked on Google.  And contrary to what Howard Fineman said on MSNBC the other night, the company didn't "buy the algorithm." It's only logical that their site would rise to the top of organic search rankings.

But here's the thing for me:  Nobody is forcing anyone to click on a specific search result. There are no "google police."   We're acting like scrolling down to the bottom of the screen and clicking "next" is some kind of monumental task.  

Just wait - I'm sure someone will sue over this.

1 comment:

Mom101 said...

I've seen more small businesses furious that a competitor bought search traffic using their own name as a keyword.

"Welcome to business," I responded.