Content Match Needs A Reality Check

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Advertisers with contextual ads appearing on CNN.com just received a lesson in Negative Keywords 101, courtesy of Hurricane Katrina.

Seen a keyword strategy succeed in an unexpected way, or backfire wildly? Submit your story at WebProWorld.

CNN displays a story about incoming Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 storm, and a photo of hordes of vehicles fleeing New Orleans. The story’s content deals with the approaching storm and the potential for worst-case scenarios.

Ads from Overture displayed on the page have a different take on the story. Three of the four ads deal with last minute travel and low rate guarantees on hotel rooms in the Big Easy. The fourth ad from a house builder offers affordable homes.


Advertisers who focus on keywords like “New Orleans” could avoid this situation, which at best seems cold and at worst crassly opportunistic. Through the use of negative keywords, in this case “hurricane,” a marketer can avoid being associated with a dangerous situation.

There may be those who see the opportunity for exposure as outweighing real-world considerations. That runs counter to the wisdom espoused by one industry professional. At SES 2005, ClearGauge’s CEO Karen Breen Vogel emphasized ad buyers should be using negative keywords in their efforts.

By the time this article was written, the CNN page was displaying three ads for hurricane shelter construction, and one titled Escape Hurricane Charlie to Key West; Charlie hit in August of 2004.

Have you refined your keyword strategy lately?

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Content Match Needs A Reality Check
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