Google Kicks Relevance Under the Bus

Google’s corporate stiffs blab incessantly about the ‘relevance’ of their search results and the ads that are shown with them. Their engine is the most ‘relevant’ in the industry, they claim. When you do a search for “organic pet food“, for example, you get listings and ads for organic pet food, not Viagra nor home refinancing nor cubic zirconium jewelry. (Check to make certain, if you’d like.)

The FIFA World Cup 2010 is going on, so I did a search today for ‘world cup’ and got the following results. (Repeating the search many times gives similar ads each time.)

(Click image for larger version.)

OK, the first ad is in the colored box at the top. ‘FIFA World Cup on ESPN’ it starts. No problem there. That’s an ad by ESPN to get you to watch their coverage on TV (or at least visit their website).

The next ad is for the Sony Ericsson phone, which apparently lets me play #Tweetakick. I have no idea what #Tweetakick is, but it sounds like some Twitter-based soccer game, so I guess an ad for a cellphone is marginally relevant, even though I probably don’t need that specific phone to play.

But, the next ad down is for some sort of snoring treatment. Of course, soccer is the least exciting sport on Earth, but come on Google, that’s just mean.

And the last ad is for a volunteer organization involved in the Gulf Oil Spill relief efforts. (I had no clue as to how millions of gallons of greasy oil was ‘relevant’ to World Cup soccer at all until I saw a photo of the Italian national team.)

Another search I did (not shown above) gave an ad that said: “Kyrgyzstan Crisis. Send medical supplies, food, clothes to the Kyrgyz Republic. Donate now!”

According to Google Trends searches for ‘world cup’ are at their highest levels since the 2006 tournament. So, it looks to me like Google has decided to just throw the concept of ‘relevance’ under the bus for the duration of the 2010 World Cup, in the hope of racking up some revenue for an event that will no longer be a hot topic in just a few weeks.


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