Is 'Search online for "Act on CO2"' costing the taxpayer unnecessary pay-per-click money?

 by Martin Belam, 26 January 2009

Tamlyn posted late last week after spotting that the Government's 'Act on CO2' campaign was asking people to search for the term rather than publishing a URL.

Act on CO2 advert

It is a trend that Cabel Sasser noted is well established in Japan, where the fact that URLs have to be formatted in the Western alphabet is a significant marketing challenge.

Adverts with search boxes in Japan

The trouble with the Government initiative is that once you announce that you are asking people to search for specific non-trademarked terms, it opens a market to bid against you. Search for the trigger term on Google, Yahoo! or Live Search in the UK and you'll see companies trying to hi-jack the slogan.

Google search fro Act On CO2

Live Search for Act On CO2

Yahoo! Search for Act On CO2

The big question for me is whether the Government are getting their own advert places free from the search engines as a non-profit with an eco-message, or whether asking users to 'search' ultimately makes the campaign more expensive for the taxpayer.

To stay in the top sponsored link spot, the Government will probably have to bid higher and higher for a click, on a search term that they are already naturally ranking at #1 for.


Not just the government. Vandals scrawl "google building 7" all over the place. Users usually organically find content by searching, so why should it be any different for advertised content, be it legal or illegal?

More here...

Why would anyone be buying google advertising for a keyword term for which they already ranked number one? Isn't it a mad waste of money?

I think that the government is being a little naive, and jumping on a bandwagon. A fraudster recently made over £50,000 out of a premium rate phoneline racket, where the targeted phrase was 'child benefits', and people were being charged up to £20 a time for information that could have been free, but the person had bought a google ad. I think that the main issue is that it's getting so difficult to optimise pages for the spiders, and for the humans.

Either way, asking people to 'search for' instead of remembering will cost the government, and therefore us the taxpayer, mucho monies.

Absolutely, this will cost taxpayers more. And anyone who decides to creatively target the keywords the gov't is asking people to search for could do really well for themselves.

It is unlikely that the people who thought of the "search for" vs url idea have the savvy to bid on all the variations and typos of the keyword. I'm going to keep my eyes open for similar situations and do a bit of my own marketing!

How the hell can you drive 5 miles less each week.
If you only drive 20 miles one week in 4 weeks time you can't use the car.
The most stupid add ever!

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