While Katrina Victims Die, eBay Sells T-Shirts


Leveraging the misery of others, eBay has, according to Animax, purchased hurricane relief-related keywords on Google to hawk hurricane Katrine t-shirts. Like the stereotypically crass car salesmen of old, eBay, in the midst of a search results page full of Katrina hurricane relief fund listings, eBay is shamelessly selling t-shirts.

UPDATE: In comments, it is clarified that this is an affiliate ad placed by a party other than eBay itself. Still, the average consumer would never know that and would clearly see this as an eBay ad thereby placing the company in a less than respectable light. If eBay, or any other company, can't control how their brand is referenced in online advertising, it's clearly indicative something's very wrong with the system.

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (9)     File: Online     Aug-30-05  
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ebay isn't buying those ads... Those are purchased by affiliates who cash in on the purchases made by those who click through their links.

Posted by: Ryan on August 30, 2005 03:49 PM

Saw the same thing with Google during the tsunami last year. Ebay's not the only one that is doing this.

Posted by: Sandy Boy on August 30, 2005 04:14 PM

And on top of that is is not that keyword, its a random keyword buy

Posted by: Pace on August 30, 2005 04:40 PM

Considering they go through netmeans.com then mediaplex.com rather than jump to ebay direct it's probably a safe bet this isn't ebay doing it.

Posted by: barryd on August 30, 2005 05:03 PM

Granted. But the average consumer has no idea what goes on behind the scenes with that sleazy affiliate shit. To them, it's eBay placing the ad. The system's broke if eBay can't control how their name appears in ads. That's how the consumer sees it.

Posted by: Steve Hall on August 30, 2005 06:04 PM

Steve, I'm going to put an ad on my page that says that if the come to AdRants, they will get $5,000 and spend the night with steve hall.

Be sure to report that you offered that.

Posted by: Pace on August 31, 2005 09:17 AM

This demonstrates 1) the challenges of monitoring and controlling affiliates, and 2) the danger of buying broad matches and placing dynamic terms into the copy of your ad.

I doubt the affiliate deliberately intended to place this specific ad. I just visited Google and searched for "Hurricane Relief" and got the following ad:

Discount Sale on eBay
New & used cheap. aff
Check out the huge selection now!

Change the search to "Hurricane Sneakers" and almost the same ad appears:

Hurricanes Shoes
New & used Hurricanes Shoes. aff
Check out the deals now!

Change it to "Hurricane Ties" and the same thing:

Hurricane Tie
Hurricane Tie for Sale. aff
Check out the deals now!

I think this is a dynamic ad placed by an ebay affiliate (perhaps to capture traffic from Miami Hurricane fans). Maybe I'm giving too much credit to human nature but given the scope of the disaster, I really hope this was just an inadvertent result of dynamic ad placement and not someone trying to make a buck off the tragedy.

Posted by: Augie on August 31, 2005 02:16 PM

These things come up all the time. They are all automated, dynamic keyword insertion ads. Affiliates enter the whole dictionary into Google Adwords and hope to set a cookie on cheap click for when you actually bid through eBay.

See http://www.boingboing.net/2004/12/20/sexy_dead_singles_an.html for some great examples

Posted by: Eli on August 31, 2005 04:50 PM

I doubt it was intended. What exactly IS Discount Hurricane Relief? Actually is is probably some automated thing that is set up as 'Discount '. I see these things all the time in the automated ads.

Posted by: Rob on September 4, 2005 02:30 PM

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