Home > PPC, search > I know Who Hijacked eBay’s Google AdWords Ad

I know Who Hijacked eBay’s Google AdWords Ad

Recently Ina Steiner at auctionbytes.com made a interesting discovery. In “Mystery: Who Hijacked eBay’s Google AdWords Ad?”, a search for “ebay” yielded a wicked little PPC ad in Google that actually took searchers to a page on Amazon about iPods.

Top ad in Google search results goes to this landing page=>


What? iPods? Only the hottest gift of the season!

Ina wrote: “An Amazon.com spokesperson told AuctionBytes on Monday it wasn’t them but has not yet gotten back to us to confirm whether it could be an Amazon.com affiliate.”

This ad would have to be created by a person who I believe used a search marketing tactic called Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) to create it. Google only recently created help files on it, but it is also used and supported by Yahoo and MSN search.

Here’s how it works with the Dynamic Keyword Insertion:

  1. In Google, if someone searches for keywords that trigger your ad, those keywords will automatically appear bold in your AdWords ad. This makes the ad seem more relevant and fitting to your search.
  2. Advertisers strive to make their ads more relevant with bolded words.
  3. DKI automatically inserts the keyword you searched for into the ad, then bolds it per #1.
  4. Most search marketers use this technique to show bolded keywords in the title or description, but very few use it in the display URL.
  5. You must use a very specific technique to make it work correctly.

Look, I did it too:

* Notice I put a bit of code in my ad text in the display URL line. I am telling Google to insert the keyword, but if its too long, just insert normal site URL which is sniffymgees.com.

Designer Dog Collars
Stuff your pup’s stocking with
fun designer dog accessories!
{keyword:SniffyMcGees}.com

Here is the result:

I bid on “dog charms” then searched for “dog charms”. You can see the URL appears to be dog+charms.com, but that doesn’t exist. You would have clicked through to my site.

I believe this is how the ebay/Amazon ad was created.

One last point. You may be wondering why this tactic isn’t more widely used?

  • You will likely get away with it for awhile, but your ad may also be removed by Google.
  • More often than not, this technique goes wrong with crazy URLs dynamically inserted that don’t make sense. In my example above, the spaces will show as plus signs +.
  • If a searcher tries to directly enter the dynamically generated URL in the browser, they will get an error.
  • It’s not nice.

Mystery solved!

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  1. January 3, 2008 at 6:36 am

    Wow, well done! Marketing geekery at its finest!

  2. Lisa R
    January 3, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Only a true OnlineMarketer could appreciate my geekery! Thanks!

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