I've long written that advertisers should be able to pick and choose exactly where they show up in a search company's network. Gary just passed along a great news story he found, Story search reveals Google glitch, that illustrates why this is so.
"Why would Kraft Foods, Jennie-O and the other companies listed support White Revolution?" the story asks, after finding these companies and organizations including the NAACP had ads coming up in the Google-powered search results at a pro-white web site.
Kraft certainly didn't want to do that, as the story details. But it had no choice, if it wants to tap into Google's network beyond Google itself.
With Google, if you buy a search-targeted ad, that ad runs on only Google-owned sites or the broader Google ad network (Google + Google partners). If you go broad, you go with everyone. You can't pick and choose exactly where you show up.
I've likened this at our conferences as going to a TV network and saying you'd like advertise. Sure -- love to have your ad! But you have to run that ad in the middle of every program we offer, regardless of whether you don't like or want to support some of those programs. No prime-time cherry picking for you, valued advertiser.
As is often the case, this isn't just a Google thing. You buy Overture, you're buying everyone in the Overture network as well. And unlike Google, you can't at least pull back to just say Overture's parent, Yahoo. You take all places that carry Overture, Yahoo and beyond.
Going back to the article, it gets lost assuming that the problem is some type of bad targeting on Google's part that it should fix, which one source quoted (almost certainly not a search marketing person) assumes would be "astronomical and prohibitive" to implement.
Please. This is not an automatic targeting problem that needs to be solved. It's a lack of control problem. The search ad networks don't give advertisers enough control, so this type of thing will happen.
In contrast, Blog Ads Hit Rough Patches from MediaPost today illustrates the full (or at least much better) control Google will give publishers. That story illustrates problems we've heard before where contextual ad targeting may go amiss. But if a publisher doesn't want certain ads, they can block them. Pity advertisers can't block from their end. They might not have wanted to end up on the blogs upset to get the poor targeting in the first place -- especially since they're footing the bill!
The story is a great read. Watch how Kraft can't figure out what's going on, then bumps the responsibility over to the firm handling its search marketing, Modem Media, then comes back saying its working on a way to ensure this never gets repeated.
Yeah, good luck Kraft. Since you don't know all the sites that might carry Google's listings, there no way you'll prevent this other than to stop advertising with Google's network as a whole. You can pull back to advertising on just Google, of course -- that will still get you plenty of traffic. But over at Overture, you'd don't get that option -- so guess you'll have to stop advertising with them entirely.
Can you ask for a better illustration of how immature search is and how desperately the search networks need to give advertisers better control, a problem that's been raised for ages? Can you imagine Kraft wanting to advertise in the offline world but being told it can't control exactly what magazines or newspapers or television shows will be associated with its message, when it turned to a major publisher or media outlet?
Google, by the way, solved this particular problem by dropping the pro-white site from its Google AdSense For Search program for reasons it wouldn't say (see also New Google WebSearch Program Pays Publishers For Searches for more about that program).
Finally, some additional kudos to little Mirago, a UK-based service has let you pick and choose where your search ads show in its network since October 2003. Why? Because its chief technology officer Derek Preston was at our SES conference in August 2003, heard advertisers complaining they wanted control and went back to implement it for Mirago. Didn't take a team of PhDs to make it happen, so I don't think we've got a big technological hurdle for Google or Overture to overcome. They just have to want to do it.
Here's a past forum thread on the topic of advertiser choice: Protest PPC Engine Content Partner Distribution.