BP Buys AdWords on Google, Yahoo for Oil Spill to "Help" Victims
June 9, 2010 11:30 AM
BP CEO Tony Hayward
Company-sponsored links will appear first on oil-related searches
recently bought search terms like
and other oil-related searches on
in an attempt to "assist those who are most impacted and help them find the right forms and the right people quickly and effectively," according to a BP spokeswoman.
BP has a lot on their plate right now with a number of
to seal the well completely over the past several weeks and even more trouble with the
they've received in lieu of this oil crisis.
Buying the search terms
will allow links to BP's oil response sites to
before any other websites' when terms relating to the oil crisis are typed into Google or Yahoo's search engines.
"Most companies that are smart are buying relevant search terms to increase their visibility on the Internet," said Terry Heymeyer, a crisis management teacher at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Management. "As long as they are providing factual and timely information in a transparent way and doing interviews with other media sources as well, I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be buying search terms."
How many search terms were purchased by BP and how much they spent is unknown, as Google and Yahoo refused to comment on the topic. But according to Rachel Carr, a Yahoo spokeswoman, ad words cost "as little as 1 cent per user click and can go up from there." The cost depends on the category of and demand for the search terms.
"In any crisis response situation, one of the first things you do is look at what's happening in Google -- it's a pretty cut and dry tactical move," said Kent Jarrell, senior vice president at Washington consulting firm
who handles crisis management. "I do it with all of my clients, because if we aren't buying the terms, somebody else is."
In response to
saying that BP is buying the search terms to distract readers from bad publicity on other news sites, Heymeyer said BP's advertisement links are highlighted "sponsored links" very clearly, and if readers don't want to go to the site, they don't have to. Though, according to Kevin Ryan, CEO of Motivity Marketing in California, most people can't tell the difference between a sponsored ad like BP's and a regular news page.
"If you look at it from BP's perspective it's a brilliant move," said Ryan. "The other option BP had was to just not do this and let the news interpret what's going on. But they're getting so much bad press that directing traffic to their own site is a great PR strategy."
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