When Keyword-Driven Advertisements Don’t Work

Check out the advertisement on the right side of the page:

Cell Phones Cause Cancer

Probably not the thing you want to see as you’re contemplating which refurb cell phone to purchase! They are using (as best as I can tell) the Newsfeed Maker service from IPD Group.

How would you solve this problem in general?  This is a tough one.   I don’t think you could rely on automated algorithms that rely on clickthrough volume, because truly awful news would (I think) get a relatively high CTR.   You could attempt to quantify each item based on some multidimensional matrix including such fuzzy criteria as “pleasantness” and “business-friendly”, but how to do that?  Keyword analysis?  If you have the word “cancer” in the title or blurb, you get -9 Pleasantness, and -14 Business Friendly?  How many keywords would you need to seed your keyword comparison database with?  How would you seed it?  Community information sharing portal?  Crawling UrbanDictionary.com for their keywords?

Tough problem.

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