It’s the nature of the beast. We all have the best intentions when it comes to delivering high quality advertising campaigns via the various paid advertising platforms. Unfortunately things don’t always go to plan. Whether it be due to over reliance on the automation features of the advertising platforms, or basic human error, occasionally advertisers get tripped up, and the results can be humorous, but also dangerous.

Two areas where a lot of advertisers come unstuck are:

  1. Inappropriate contextually targeted ad placements
  2. Dynamic Keyword Insertion fails

Let’s look at some examples where things went wrong for various advertisers.

Inappropriate Contextually Targeted Ad Placements

In the following three examples, Google has matched web pages it deems as relevant to the keywords or topics selected by the advertiser. Google has a system where it analyses the content of each web page to determine its central theme. If this matches up with the keywords or themes selected by the advertiser, then their ads will be eligible to run on the web page.

Of course, Google isn’t human, and sometimes it will match up keywords with web pages that the advertiser would prefer not to advertise on. There is a commonsense element to running effective Display Advertising campaigns, that can require human intervention. This is illustrated quite emphatically in the three examples below:

Olive Garden AdWords fail
Olive Garden AdWords fail

I cannot imagine that the punters would be queuing up for a Dinner for Two offer at the Indiana Olive Garden, after reading that over 250 patrons fell ill after dining there.

Similarly, potential holiday goers would be unlikely to be enthused at the prospect of taking a vacation in Greece, after reading about ongoing violence throughout the country.

Violence in Greece AdWords Fail
Violence in Greece AdWords Fail

And finally, if you are reading about a Qantas plane making an emergency landing, you aren’t going to be jumping for joy at the idea of flying to Australia, regardless of how good the offer is.

Qantas AdWords fail
Qantas AdWords fail

It is important, therefore, to be vigilant in keeping an eye on where your advertisements are being placed. Advertisers have the ability to control where their ads are being placed on the Display Network by excluding undesirable placements. In all three examples above, the advertise could have excluded the web page in question, which would have meant that their ads would no longer be eligible to run on that web page.

Google AdWords: Dynamic Keyword Insertion Fails

Below we have a few examples of how advertisers can run into trouble with Google’s Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) feature. The way this feature works is that Google dynamically updates your ad text so that it includes one of your keywords that matches a user’s search terms. It is critical, if you decide to make use of this feature, that you only run it with keywords that uphold the integrity of the advert. In the three examples below the advertiser has tried to implement Dynamic Keyword Insertion across their account, but have come unstuck by not anticipating that there were keywords in their account that have seriously harmed the messaging of their adverts, and there can be legal, and brand damaging ramifications, despite the often humorous results.

Dominos AdWords fail
Dominos AdWords fail
Amazon AdWords fail
Amazon AdWords fail
eBay slaves AdWords fail
eBay slaves AdWords fail

The lesson to learn here is that, if you want to make use of the DKI feature, you need to ensure that you don’t have keywords in your account that could potentially turn your ads into damaging, or nonsensical messages.

Ultimately, it comes back to taking a bit of care in your work to ensure that you don’t come a gutser, with either of the mishapx outlined above. This is applicable, firstly in establishing a new campaign (or feature for a campaign), as well as when maintaining and optimising your campaigns going forward.