Saturday, June 19, 2010

Unfortunate Advertising


Outback Steakhouse can be hit or miss with service and quality of food; the last filet mignon I bought there had a gruesome ribbon of gristle snaking down its middle, but at least the server was hospitable and on top of things.

In addition to questionable quality, Outback has achieved notoriety for featuring one of the worst, junkiest appetizers known to man, the Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch. I Googled "worst food" and clicked the "News" tab on June 15th and found Outback Steakhouse featured as one of the sponsored links above my search results. The proof rests at the top of this post.

Google is telling it like it is: "If a web page appears in Google’s search results, it’s because Google thought it was a relevant result for your search, not because someone paid Google to put it there."

This is even more interesting:
"Advertisers decide which queries their ads should match, and then Google decides on placement, i.e., which ads to show and in what order. Google determines placement by an auction; the auction not only considers what the advertiser will pay for the ad, but also its click-through rate, i.e., how often users click on the ad. If users often click on an ad, Google will likely place the ad higher up on the results page. If the click-through rate of an ad falls below a certain level, indicating an ad isn’t relevant to the query, Google removes the ad."

I don't know much about online advertising, but what I get from this is that somehow, "worst" appears to be a keyword for the ad copywriters at Outback Steakhouse. Kudos to them for embracing what they are, I guess!

*I searched "worst foods" today, and Outback Steakhouse wasn't featured as a sponsored link anymore.

Possible explanations:
  1. People were didn't click on the ad.
  2. Someone at Outback HQ hacked my blogger account and decided to sabotage this gritty exposé.

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