The Dangers of Content Matching: Robert Kiyosaki

One of my former hockey teammates from Vanderbilt also ended up in the internet marketing realm.  Today, Jotham McCauley sent me something I found too funny.  By the way, if you’re looking for bubble hockey games or anything related to stand up arcade games like foosball, for now, for your customer’s sake, for your daughter’s sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product from Gold Star Games.

Here’s your Highlights exercise for the day.  Tell me what’s wrong with this picture (after the jump).

If you said, “they’re promoting a person (who wrote some really great books, btw) and then destroying all his credibility by displaying a negative pay per click ad through content matching”, you’re entitled to a year’s supply of Turtle-Wax.

The Perils of Content Matching

We discussed it before with WVU and their fake eMBA degree scandal, but it’s still happening and something you need to be wary of.

Content matching (also called content targeting and a few other terms, depending on the search engine) allows you to use your paid search account with Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, or Microsoft adCenter (Live.com) to reach more people.

When you choose to utilize this feature, the search engines will look at the keywords in a particular ad group, and if they match the content of a news article or other page on a Web site with whom they have an agreement to run ads, your ad may appear.

If you’re not careful, you’ll end up either advertising somewhere you shouldn’t or advertise something you shouldn’t on your own site, depending on which side of the advertising-publishing spectrum you fall.

Recent Improvements in Content Targeting

The good news is that Google’s made several improvements recently to their policies regarding content match, including:

  • No longer opted in automatically
  • Better ability to name specific sites to include or exclude
  • Better ability for publishers to exclude ads

Content targeting can help certain campaigns.  Just make sure you know where Charybdis and Scylla are and test, test, test!  If you’re running your own paid search campaigns, and don’t spend that much time with them, I’d recommend just avoiding the feature.

Update – In my rush to get on the road for a client meeting, I neglected to add something really important.  If you want to advertise against something, content match is particularly compelling.  Great article from the WSJ yesterday on political advertising (sorry – I can’t remember who should get the hat tip and I’m not going to scroll through 20 pages of twitter to find out):

But Sen. John McCain is in some ways outsmarting Sen. Obama when it comes to Internet marketing. One example: As of Wednesday, a Google search for “Joe Biden” or even just “Biden” resulted in a prominently displayed ad labeled “Joe Biden on Obama” that links to Sen. McCain’s site. There, a video begins playing that shows Sen. Biden criticizing Sen. Obama during the Democratic primaries. The move mimics the “ambush” strategy that advertisers often employ: buying a competitor’s term so that an ad for the buyer’s own product appears when a consumer searches for the other brand.

Sen. McCain was able to pull off that sleight of hand because he outbid his opponent for the search term “Joe Biden.” As a result, Sen. McCain’s ad takes the top spot alongside search results, while Mr. Obama’s ad appears lower in the results.

Sen. McCain’s team has been the aggressor in other ways, too. In recent days, it has bought search ads tied to key terms such as “U.S. economy” and “housing crisis,” which take visitors to Web sites outlining Sen. McCain’s plan on those issues.

Meanwhile, the Obama camp largely has yet to advertise around these terms, missing a key opportunity, according to experts, to communicate his message to undecided voters.

The Obama campaign says it continually works to optimize its search marketing to maximize effectiveness. “Thanks to our millions of online supporters who frequently visit our Web site and other social-networking sites, unlike other campaigns, BarackObama.com already has extremely high organic search engine rankings, which helps us limit the number of terms where we need to use paid advertising to have a presence,” Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said in an email.

Sen. Obama can also claim a huge lead in nonpaid search traffic, which suggests that he has done a good job optimizing its Web pages for search engines. Links to his Web sites often appear higher in the non-paid area of the search results, and he is driving more traffic to his site, Mr. Stylman says. The 3.3 million unique visitors to Sen. Obama’s Web site in July was more than double the 1.6 million visitors to Sen. McCain’s site, according to Nielsen Online.

You really just need to read the whole article – too many good points about how the candidates are using paid search and seo.  While it’s not content match information per se, it does show the power one can have with counter-search advertising.

Justin Seibert

About The Author

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He contributes a wide range of online business-oriented topics, including the subject of exporting. His contributions can be found on publications such as the Pittsburgh Business Times, Advertising Age, SES Magazine, and La Voz del interior. Justin and his family enjoy learning about new cultures during their travels.

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