Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Ethical question for the day re: Using Google AdWords

Recently a woman on a Yahoo Group list with me posted a question: why did AdWords pop up when she did an ego-surf on her name. Did it mean someone specifically chose her name a an AdWord, or could it be contextual based on the results of such a search?

One person weighed in and said it could be contextual.

But I disagreed. I wrote in and said that this woman was somewhat known in this area for starting a couple of networking sites/lists, including one around using blogs for resumes. The ads that came up when searching her name were about social networking and ResumeBlogs.

It seemed to me that yes, some marketer figured that people searching this woman's name might have some likelihood of being interested in social networking etc. It never hurts to try a keyword and see if you get click-through.

True, if the keyword isn't immediately obviously relevant to your ad copy (And no, they're not using her name anywhere in their ad copy), and if the click-thru rate is also somewhat low, it may be the first keyword Google puts "on hold". But again, it costs you nothing to try.

Now the woman in question has a different take on it. She feels like this company is "eager to capitalize on my ideas, name and reputation. I should be flattered, I suppose. And they should be ashamed."

Strong words. And to be honest I can't find myself getting up in arms with her. I'm pretty easy to rile up, but this isn't doing it for me.

What do all y'all think?

Savvy marketing experiment?

Shameful exploitation?

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