Followers of UK politics are well used to the major parties undertaking ‘dirty tricks campaigns’ in the run up to general elections, but Labour MP John Prescott has gone a stage further in the run up to this year’s election.
Prescott has urged followers of his Twitter to go to Google and to type in terms related to the election so that the Tory party’s Adwords Ads appear, and then to click on them to waste the Conservatives’ Adwords budget.
Clicks on Adwords cost the advertiser every time a click is a made, and once the daily budget is exceeded, the ads will stop appearing. However, clicking on Adwords Ads deliberately to stop a competitor’s ads appearing is click fraud, and Google takes this very seriously. Also, there are measures in place to detect when multiple clicks are coming from the same source, or patterns of clicks are emerging just to use up an advertiser’s budget. It is therefore likely that Labour’s efforts wouldn’t have dented David Cameron’s Adwords budget too much.
According to the Financial Times, the Tories were bidding on parliamentary search terms, such as ‘budget’ and ‘hung parliament’. The FT also stated that the Tory party was bidding on specific geo terms for local constituencies, which would work out much cheaper as geo targeting your ads is a better way to get results. For example, searching for ‘General Election Cheshire’ or ‘General Election Wirral’ would produce far fewer results, and as such would be less competitive and cheaper on Adwords, than appearing for ‘General Election’.
Labour meanwhile has a smaller advertising budget than the Tory party, so has reportedly been spending its money on SEO and an effort to become a Google News Publisher. Hopefully Labour started its SEO campaign some time ago, as in an area as competitive as politics it can take a long time to garner natural search rankings.