Tact and keywords

The rise of the laser-beam-narrow targeting allowed by Google AdWords and AdSense has led to some interesting uses. It’s also led to accusations of insensitivity on Google’s part, who explicitly point out they don’t exercise human editorial control over ad placement. But Cameron showed me one last night that leaves me feeling slightly odd, and this one isn’t Google’s “fault” as much as the advertiser.

Campbell Live ad on Google search results page

For the non-NZers, the biggest news item this week here has been a quite tragic accident where six students and a teacher from a high school, Elim Christian College, were swept to their deaths after a flash flood during an outdoor exercise in a gorge. What you see above is an ad using the school’s name as a keyword for a Campbell Live, an evening TV news/interview show, or rather their specific portal page for the subject.

I can see why they did it. They may have done it automatically even, with some system to buy up keywords on common phrases in hot stories, and part of me thinks it’s a good idea. But I still can’t help feeling that this a somewhat tasteless use.

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