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I am in Dallas at the moment, wondering when the volcanic ash-cloud will drift away from London, so that I can get on a plane home. While investigating this, I came across something really interesting on the BBC website. It is something I would not have seen in the UK. The BBC is selling video advertising. They are not allowed to do this in the UK, but none of us Brits mind taking your money outside our borders . It’s their implementation that I find strange though. BBC users are being positively tricked into seeing the adverts.
Here is what I saw initially, on the : news page at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8623534.stm from the US.:
Now I don’t know if you can see under the video image, but it says the video will be about “The Icelandic ash cloud and the grim news from European traffic control”. Let’s face it, the picture at the start of the video seems to support that suggestion. This being exactly the kind of news report I wanted to see, I clicked on the video…
Now I know that the BBC iPlayer does not allow non-uk users to see programs, so a message to that effect I might have expected. But what I got was a video advert for Toyota:
The advert was entirely unexpected, but in addition… there was no news artificial about the Volcanic ash. Now here’s what’s more sinister… Look under the video box now. I see the word “advertisement”. So not only did the BBC misdirect me into seeing a video advert I was not expecting, but they seem to have thought that I would then look at the screen after the fact and say “oh, that must have been my mistake then… of COURSE it was an advert. What was I thinking?”
Apart from the irony of the advert being about Toyota’s attention to quality, I feel this could be worked much better by the BBC. Advertises are probably lapping up the video take-up rate, but the audience is at best getting short changed and at worst getting duped. It’s an easy fix, BBC… all you need to do is to play the news clip – either before or after you play the advert. This way I get my news story. By implementing this the way you have, you’ll be really confusing the good folk at Google. Their crawlers are all US based, you see? they have a large quality control team in Ireland… not sure if you are showing them the adverts or not… but right now you are giving out a quality signal that may or may not be hurting you in the rankings:
Even though Google has found and inserted four videos into the first page of its results… and even though the BBC has used the words “flight choas” in its article title, their results don’t show.
Not being in the UK at the moment, I can’t easily see if the video is playing the relevant story from the UK… I assume it is. But I CAN see via a UK proxy (Thanks Proxify) that the results in the UK DO show a BBC article at position 2 for the term “flight chaos”, but NOT the video OR the article page with the correct title! The result shown is for news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8621407.stm but the article with the dubious video is at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8623534.stm
So bravo Google! for working this all out! I guess that now I’ve linked yo all these urls, I’ll confuse Google even more – so the listings may change – but that’s just pattern theory for you.