DirectGov's indirect use of Google Ads

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 10 April 2007

When I was researching my recent post about the Biased BBC blog on global warming, I was looking for some information on CO2 emissions.

Naturally my research started at the Google search box, and when I got my results I was surprised to see that a link to DirectGov was one of the sponsored results for that search - how very pro-active I thought.

But I was even more surprised when I clicked it, and was taken through to their motoring homepage. I mean, cars produce CO2 emissions for sure, but they are hardly the only source in the UK. So I started scouting around the page for the content about motoring carbon dioxide emissions.

With no joy whatsoever.


Eventually a text search of the page reassured me that I wasn't going mad, but in fact DirectGov had paid for an advert on Google for the search term "CO2 emissions", and linked it through to a URL on a vaguely related subject, but which had no actual content or even links to content about carbon dioxide on it at all.

All of which would be a waste of taxpayers money, but not spectacularly incompetent, if it wasn't for the fact that DirectGov does actually have an entire section devoted to the green issues of motor travel.


However, thanks to the perils of not using any kind of faceted classification or navigation, this is situated under the "Environment and Greener living" category, not the "Motoring" category, and it seems that never the twain shall meet.

Or at least never the twain shall cross-promote or cross-link, anyway.

PS - in fairness, I've noticed that since I wrote and scheduled this for publication, they have now changed the text ad to point directly to a more reasonable page -


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