Perusing an article about Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S. government's credit rating, my eye was caught by one of those "Ads by Google" provocatively (and bewilderingly) entitled, "Obama Loves Annuities."
He does? And even if he does, is any D.C. politician so popular these days that he or she is a good bet to attract would-be consumers?
I suppose the teaser line did its job, and made me read the ad. On the other hand, my immediate reaction to this prominent ad box was, "This is sleazy."
That was also my reaction to the smaller ads populating another box next to the same article, ads shilling for credit reports, payday loan relief, and repairing one's credit rating.
The process of generating those ads is automated, of course, and it is amusing to imagine the government consulting a credit-repair outlet: "You have how much debt? Holy crap, how did you manage that???" Yet there's no getting around the fact that these tacky come-ons for by and large shady outfits tarnish the reputation of the sites that feature the ads.
The New York Times' reputation won't suffer much. You have to wonder, though, whether these ads are reaching anybody who will follow through (click) on them. The kind of person reading the New York Times seems unlikely to be so ill-informed as to be susceptible to one of these clumsily-worded teases.
This kind of mismatch is what Google delivers for advertisers' dollars? And advertisers actually find this worth their money?