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‘Keyword Ads’ Are Risky Stuff

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Thursday May 31, 2012 )

I’ve often thought companies running ads directing viewers to perform a search on a particular keyword in order to get to a campaign landing page were taking a risk.

An Amex campaign just proved it.

The Amex ad said to run a search on the word “potential”; so I did, expecting to see their Adwords ad at the top of the page. It wasn’t. It was in the Adwords block right at the bottom. There wasn’t a listing for the campaign in the organic SERPs on the first page either.

Would others bother scrolling down to find the Adwords block? In this age of incredibly short attention spans, would something else on that first page of results attract the person’s attention? Also, if it’s a generic term – what if someone else decided to bid on it? Even if they didn’t try to compete on Adwords, a clever bit of SEO could scoop up some folks looking for an offer by grabbing the number 1 slot in the organic SERPs.

I certainly understand the reasoning behind the approach – that it’s perhaps easier to remember one word rather than than a long URL, but literacy levels and keyboard skills being what they are it’s also a word that could be easily mispelled or typo’d.

If your domain and/or campaign URL isn’t too lengthy, I don’t see what the problem is with something like:

…particularly if, in the case of a TV ad, you display the URL throughout the entire spot to help form memory. I think people are becoming more attuned to remembering URL’s these days.

Just ensure whatever you use in place of “flombles” is short, unique, memorable and hard to spell incorrectly. The unique aspect is important, in case the person just goes to your home page or decides to run a search query on your company name. Assuming you don’t want to mention the offer on your home page for campaign performance tracking purposes, the person can the search for the offer from there.

While that should work fine for a TV campaign, the even more puzzling aspect of the Amex campaign is the ad I saw was a banner – something you can click. So why direct people to search (bearing in mind that a particular call to action does have oomph), pay more for a campaign and possibly lose traffic as a result?

I really don’t get it.


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