PBS.org Discovers The Joy Of AdWords

    April 28, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

An experiment in using contextual advertising to raise funds for the Public Broadcasting Service brought Google’s ubiquitous advertising to the broadcaster’s website.

When viewing one of the 2 percent of PBS.org pages carrying Google advertising, it is very obvious something is missing. There is no “Ads by Gooooogle” tag attached to the advertising block.

It’s very much Google AdWords in use, though, as the always excellent Rafat Ali at PaidContent.org reported regarding an email interview conducted with PBS senior VP for PBS Interactive and Education, Cindy Johanson.

The Google ads are just the beginning, though Johanson noted in the exchange some sites like PBSkids.org would not have advertising placed on them. The PBS website describes why PBS.org has Google ads, and how they decide which ones to use.

Should something “editorially inappropriate” appear, “we will make every effort to remove the ad as quickly as possible and block it from appearing again,” the website reads.

PBS and Google have been working together since January, the report said. Only top level/aggregation pages contain those AdWords blocks.

Johanson noted four areas PBS monitors with the ads to measure their performance:

a) changes in user traffic to sites/pages containing sponsorship elements;
b) user click-though rates on sponsorship elements;
c) direct user feedback via email regarding the sponsorship service;
d) financial return

PBS has to be careful not to run afoul of the FCC with its advertising endeavors. Considering PBS’ liberal slant on programming and news reporting, and a Bush Administration that could nudge the FCC into reviewing PBS revenue generating efforts, too much expansion with online advertising could be problematic.


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