Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keyword Ads: The New Entertainment?

Usually I pick on Google when it comes to calling attention to sponsored links triggered by keywords in unanticipated (and therefore often entertaining) ways. Therefore, it seems only fair that I call out Yahoo! for a couple of links that may strike some as inappropriate and others as ludicrous. By way of context, these links appeared on a Yahoo! News page in a section called The Newsroom (which, in spite of its name, appears to be a blog, at least on the basis of the credit given at the conclusion, where the author, Brett Michael Dykes, is described as "a contributor to the Yahoo! News blog"). The story concerned the tiff on The Today Show this morning between Matt Lauer and John McCain over the claim by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, in their book Game Change, that Sarah Palin was inadequately vetted and McCain's response that suggested that he knew nothing about the vetting process. Here is my snapshot of the links that accompanied this report:

The outer two were clearly triggered by Palin's name. My guess is that both of them are directed at encouraging a groundswell of support for her. This would mean that those who placed the ad would not be particularly happy with the conclusion of this report, the final item in a bullet list of Game Change revelations:

- that Sarah Palin believed Saddam Hussein to be behind the attacks on 9/11, didn't understand why North and South Korea were separate (the Korean War) and that she could not properly pronounce Joe Biden's name. The book contends that Palin was a mentally unstable person prone to wild mood swings, describing her being hopelessly lost in a "catatonic stupor" at one point during the campaign.

On the other hand it may well be that the organization that placed the first ad wants only the most rabid supporters of Palin, meaning those totally unaffected by any of the claims in that bullet list (or, like Palin herself, easily convinced that these are just the lies of the mainstream media). I would also not be surprised in the middle ad were also triggered by Palin's name through its association with the kind of self-sufficiency she associates with her own private Alaska.

This should be entertaining enough to make a great scene in an HBO movie of the sort that seems to interest the electorate more than all those dull processes of governance.

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