A true story with a client (from a previous employer and an old life):
I was managing a PPC campaign that sold cell phone plans and products. At the time, I noticed that we were getting a lot of search queries – and sometimes clicks- from people looking for the term “Justin Bieber cell phone number.”
Puzzled, I had to research the TeenyBop Phenom known as Justin Bieber…and why his fans thought his cell phone number would be available on the Internet. I read how Bieber had been harrassed by a fan who had hacked into a Facebook account and pestered Bieber with constant text messages. As retaliation, the Hair Style Icon sent out a message on Twitter, posting the hacker’s cell phone number instead of his own on Twitter, urging fans to call or text him. Over the next two days, as many as 30,000 calls and text messages came in.
Aha. People were searching for the term “Justin Bieber cell phone number” and my client’s ads were being served because we bid on the term “cell phone.”
The odd matching from search query to ad keyword was a glitch in the Google system. It did not cost us that much (directly) because very few people actually clicked on these ads when they wanted Justin Bieber’s cell phone number.
But there was an indirect cost to my client. The ad text Click Through Rate was dropping at a steep rate because of the sheer volume of searches for Justin Bieber’s phone number. When many people search for a term and do NOT click on the ad, the Click Through Rate drops. When the Click Through Rate is low, the Ad Text Quality Score can be affected.
The Ad Text Quality Score is assigned by Google to each Ad in a campaign. The better the Quality Score, the lower the keyword bid prices will be and the higher the advertisement’s page rank will be.
The solution: lots of negative keywords. Negative keywords like “Justin Bieber” would stem the losses.
As paid search managers, we have to be “haters” on some keywords and banish any searches for these keywords. The Site Pro PPC maanagers here constantly check our campaigns for any strange search terms — and then add the negative keywords. Any kind of news or trend can suddenly cause a spike in strange, unproductive keyword searches — and create havoc in a campaign.
Thank you, Justin Bieber!