I’ve been closely monitoring the news around the swine flu issue (as well as religiously cleaning my hands after getting off of the moving hamster cages that pass for trains on most week nights) but not because I’m a paranoid hypochondriac who is convinced that this is going to be an armageddon like plague that wipes out the world (OK, maybe a little bit). Rather I’m fascinated in how it’s reported and how people search for information about the outbreak.
The panic that has swept much of the web has already been written about in great detail (Stephen Fry is worried that the panic will give Twitter a bad name – I think Ashton Kutcher’s taken care of that, but that’s a different story), whilst the rights & wrongs of the mainstream media’s coverage was covered by Peter Preston in The Observer on Sunday. What hasn’t been written about, at least as far as I’m aware, is who is bidding on phrases related to swine flu in search results.
And whilst a whole post could undoubtedly be written about the affiliates & retailers looking to make a buck off of the public’s fear, or the fact that people apparently need to be reassured by a perma-tanned TV GP, what I really want to know is why two different Government bodies have to bid on the results for flu, swine flu & pig flu – especially when they then link to each other anyway.
If anyone from the agencies handling search for Directgov & NHS Choices are reading this, please can I ask you to give each other a call and coordinate a campaign to save on paid search budget? Apart from anything else, as it’s over £30 for a box of masks* you’re going to need all the budget you can get. And whilst the rest of us wait for them to talk to each other, we can take comfort in the fact that (slightly off-colour) humour will always conquer any panic. Hit it Mike!
*Yes, this is an affiliate link. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.