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Recently I was tasked with finding keywords for a client who wishes to somehow guarantee that their ads won’t show up in a search for words that begin with the same letters as their brand keywords, but rather will show up once an entire search query is complete.

For example, if we pretend my client sells petfood – which they don’t – they want to target negative keywords such as petro canada or petforest. So that someone looking for the Petro Canada wiki page won’t see an extremely quick petfood ad flashed before their eyes before they finish typing.

I would like to go on record as calling this a bad idea. It’s more than just cost – PPC is organized so you don’t pay for impressions – it’s the basic philosophy. Trying to counteract Google Instant is akin to pushing on the ocean. You can try if you want to, and you might even build some neat stuff if you put brains and dollars towards it. But the tide eventually will rise and if you’re standing on dry ground when it does, you’ll go under very quickly.

By that overly nautical metaphor, I mean that if a business is truly concerned that their niche market is not best served by loads of irrelevant impressions, which can happen with Google Instant, the answer is not to pay a writer to cast a wide net of negative keywords. The way to get your specific, mad-for-you, experts and evangelists who already want more is to understand that search is social.

If you have a relentless, rabid customer base who absolutely needs to know the next time you come out with a product, get in touch with them. It works way better than telling Google to run your ads, but not really.

One of my favourite companies hosts a forum in which new products are announced internally at various stages of incubation. I find out about it via their emails to me. Other clients of mine make use of Facebook to discuss imminent product releases and to get feedback on new initiatives. Just look at the Gap and how that all went down. You can host a microsite for beta-testing if that’s your type of product, you can gauge reactions on your twitterfeed, host a live chat – an event that you can easily promote with PPC ads – and don’t forget the power of texting. You can even buy ads in online games if you want to.

These and lots of other options are readily available for companies of any size who want to address their current customers and who want to attract new ones. In the case of my petfood company, their best bet is to use promoted videos with a chat feature. Why? Because their customers buy, use and review their product on YouTube and they WANT to talk about it with one another. Going this route would take the dollars put into me developing ways to say No to Google and put it towards saying Yes to their existing customers, with the added bonus that they’ll then tell others about it.

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Canadian content laws seem like a hokey, even outdated concept that only affects public television and radio programs. Sadly, poorly produced shows are the face of these laws, but the meaning of them is so much more. Beyond the production and regeneration of Canadian culture, diverse, self-contradictory and downright strange as it might be, it’s also a source of invisible revenue that means jobs for many Canadians.

Invisible because our Minister of Culture and our Minister of Industry – all of them, not just the current Rt. Hon – actually fail to account for the money created by Canadian companies. Companies who pay taxes, employ Canadians and who generate cash by making films and events we all want to enjoy. With this in mind, it is unconscionable for the Rt. Hon. James Moore to discuss any leeway for Carl Icahn, the chainsaw artist who ripped apart many a company seemingly just to see if he could, to purchase Lions Gate Films. Incorporated in British Columbia and operating out of California, Lions Gate, simply put, makes money. Lots of money. Money that goes to Canadian people and products.

In these unstable financial days, it makes no sense to allow a thriving business to be upended for one person’s personal gain. And this would be a big shakedown. Icahn was turned down on his last offer and now proposes to replace the entire board of directors with people sympathetic to him.

Lions Gate is at the moment, in a position to consider a bid on the library of MGM Inc. It is the biggest indie film and television studio in Hollywood and it’s ours. But ironically, if the company were to incorporate in the US, it would be safer from this type of hostile takeover. Company executives have already been in talks to do just that. If Canadian assets must either face being bought by hostile American ahem “entrepreneurs”, or moving to the US where there exists more legal protections against such activities, we may as well close the office of the Minister of Industry and Heritage too, while we’re at it.

It’s understood just how good some of our projects are and though much on the CBC and CTV fall short of Oscar-winning Mad Men (produced by Lions Gate), our cultural gems are far ahead of Taxicab Confessions and the Biggest Loser. We’ve got something special that deserves preservation and protection for reasons beyond mere sentimentality. Little Mosque on the Prairie might not be 24, but that’s sort of the point. We have a culture to protect, whether the business world or the Ministers in charge of it think so.

We make money for Canada. The Conference Board estimates Canada’s cultural sector generated $46-billion, or 3.8 per cent of Canada’s GDP, in 2007. And, according to the Canada Council, in 2003-2004, the sector accounted for an “estimated 600,000 jobs (roughly the same as agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, oil & gas and utilities combined).” Not only that, we make Canada for Canada. This country is ridiculously large and living life in one part of it is extremely different from living anywhere else. The diffusion of experiences, the discords, disagreements and discussions that take place around what it means to be who we are in different parts of our world is worth preserving, protecting and funding.

This blog is mine. Don’t blame. Don’t copy.

All opinions and posts on this blog are my own and not those of my employer, friends, family or people I might just have met who seem really cool; or even my pets, who have no choice but to agree with me anyway. You can tell these opinions are mine because this is my blog.
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