The State of Maine hired a NY ad agency, Warren Kremer Paino Advertising, LLC, to handle the Maine Tourism account. WKP then built a site- and bought search terms with State money to direct traffic to the site. Apparently there are no creative people living in the state of Maine, but, there is one semi-smart web developer.
Lance Dotson is the owner of the Maine Web Report- a blog, who quickly found the cost of his google ad words increasing when WKP started bidding up the prices of keywords using tax dollars. He said some things on his blog- that suggested that WKP was “pissing away” Maine tax dollars- and competing with him. WKP decided to sue.
This story is making the rounds in several spheres- bloggers concerned about being sued, free speech advocates worrying about rights disappearing, ad agencies worried about bad pr, and maybe even the people selling search words like Google and Yahoo.
Here is The Next Wave take on this mess: The State of Maine and Lance Dotson  and WKP all have made a mistake- because buying search terms instead of creating sites that generate organic (unpaid good results based on the quality of the content) is the lazy way to generate hits for your site.
The State of Maine, and anyone else who hires an agency like WKP- who’s entire site is built in Flash- and has no real search results on it’s own, should be questioning their agencies ability to build an effective web site in the first place. To see how many pages are indexed in google- go to the search window type in: and you will see the results- WKP has 3- with zero indexed content.
Instead of buying search terms- that money could be used to continue to develop useful and informative content- or to promote the site and the State using other media.
Maine should fire WKP- because they’ve brought the State into an embarrassing situation with negative PR, and because they were “pissing away tax money”- but this is typical of government buyers who issue RFP’s without fully understanding what they are buying.
I’m sure this story isn’t over- there are lots of places you can look to read more:
The blogging journalist
Fuzzy Blog
Maine web Report
But the important thing to remember on the web is that content is what is important- and if it can’t be found by search- it’s not good content.
Now- I’m going to say what I really think:
Agencies that buy search terms as part of a media strategy are whores. Even if they aren’t marking up the buy, they don’t love their client- they just are too lazy to work to make the site sell itself. Good content gets you the search engines love for free. Ask us- or look us up- we’re on the front page of Google for quite a few search terms.
For right now- the search engines revenue engine is driven by Internet lust- by clients like the State of Maine who don’t know what makes a site index- or work. The search companies are feasting on the uneducated by pimping the top spots and the right side of the results page to the highest bidder. While we don’t believe prostitution should be illegal- we do believe that pimping is the most deplorable form of trade there is- and both the search companies – and agencies who buy results are nothing but pimps.
Those are fighting words- and for good reason, this is a controversy that needs to be discussed. The model of agency compensation has been broken for a long time- but paying auction prices for placement is not a win for the client. The agencies job is to ADD value to the clients products or services- by finding a unique selling proposition- or creating an aura of desirability that wasn’t there before. Not by slapping some keyword make-up and a bigger budget on some haggard creative.
What do you think?