Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BP Buys Search Terms to Redirect Users to Company Web Site

Center for Media and Democracy

BP has purchased search terms relating to the Gulf oil spill disaster on Google, Yahoo and Bing, a move some say is designed to limit the public's exposure to news reporting about the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe. BP confirmed that it has bought search terms like "oil spill," "gulf oil," "offshore oil," "Louisiana coast spill" and "oil cleanup," on the top three search engines, so that when people perform searches on these terms, a link to BP's corporate page about the spill (www.BP.com/OilSpillNews) appears up at the top of the page. In Google, the result appears as a sponsored link, with a line that says, "Info about the Gulf of Mexico Spill Learn More about How BP is Helping." On Bing, searching for "BP" returns a link to BP's "Gulf of Mexico Response" site, with the same "helping" tag line. BP spokesman Toby Odone explained to ABC News, "We have bought search terms on search engines like Google to make it easier for people to find key links to information on filing claims, reporting oil on the beach and signing up to volunteer." Kevin Ryan, CEO of a California-based Internet marketing company, Motivity Marketing, says research shows most people can't tell the difference between paid and unpaid search results. He says BP's efforts to divert people looking for information about the disaster to their own, corporate site is "a great PR strategy." Estimates are that the company is paying over $10,000 a day for the search terms.

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