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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

The Google AdWords Happening
Christophe Bruno

At the beginning of April, a debate took place on rhizome.org mailing list about how to earn money with net art. It suggested to me an answer to an easier problem: how to spend money with my art (if you understand everything about how to spend money, you should in principle understand also how to earn money, because of conservation laws...). I decided to launch a happening on the web, consisting of a poetry advertisement campaign on Google AdWords. I opened an account for $5 and began to buy some keywords. For each keyword you can write a little ad. and, instead of the usual ad., I decided to write little “poems”, non-sensical or funny or a bit provocative.

I began with the keyword “symptom”. The first ad I wrote was:

Words aren’t free anymore
bicornuate-bicervical uterus
one-eyed hemi-vagina

As soon as the campaign was launched, I was able to see the results. Every time somebody was looking for the word “symptom” in Google, they could see my ad in the top right corner of the page. My first satisfaction occured when somebody who had typed “hemorroid symptom” on Google arrived on my website, after having clicked on my ad. I decided to explore this new world and to launch several campaigns. Each of them was to be a targeted poetic happening of a new kind.

How 12,000 people saw my “poems” in 24 hours and how I was censored by Google

In 24 hours, I launched the following campaigns, with the keywords “symptom”, “dream”, “mary”, “money”. During the fourth campaign, I kept receiving these emails from Google: “We believe that the content of your ad does not accurately reflect the content of your website. We suggest that you edit your ad text to precisely indicate the nature of the products you offer. This will help to create a more effective campaign and to increase your conversion rate. We also recommend that you insert your specific keywords into the first line of your ad, as this tends to attract viewers to your website.”

Then I got a last email:

“Hello. I am the automated performance monitor for Google AdWords Select. My job is to keep average clickthrough rates at a high level, so that users can consistently count on AdWords ads to help them find products and services. The last 1,000 ad impressions I served to your campaign(s) received fewer than five clicks. When I see results like this, I significantly reduce the rate at which I show the ads so you can make changes to improve performance. Sincerely, The Google AdWords Automated Performance Monitor.”

My ads were then disapproved and my campaigns were suspended.