Let me tell you about how I know that you exist.

I was writing an article and I misspelled the word “induced”.  I went to dictionary.com to check my spelling.  When I clicked on the proper spelling of the word the first thing that I saw was an ad for BizRate.com.  It went a little something like this:

Bargain Prices.  Smart Deals.  Save on Induced!

In a way I have to commend you.  I now know that you exist and, in a twisted and skewed way, the ad did its job.  Here I am at BizRate.com taking time out of my day to write a letter that will probably never get past the eyes of an intern.  Kudos.

Still, I feel it is my societal obligation to inform you of just how insulting that advertisement was.  Not only was it absurd, nonsensical, and ridiculous, but it was a… well… disgusting attempt at tricking me into giving you my money.  Did the marketing department really think that by disguising an ad as a definition on dictionary.com that people would drop what they’re doing and start buying things from you?  That shit is so brazen and so ludicrous that I have to believe that the person responsible was being tongue-in-cheek on a deeply cynical level.  Either that or they have no soul at all and no respect whatsoever for the intelligence of the American consumer (not that I have much respect for them myself, but seriously… that’s taking it to a new level).

After visiting your website and navigating to the contact page (which I could only get to via the jobs link) it is apparent that you are a huge conglomerate that sees nothing past the bottom line.  It is also apparent that your marketing department has no shame and is specifically targeting what is known as the lowest common denominator much like AOL did in the mid 1990s when they flooded mailboxes with those annoying startup discs.

Neither one of us can argue that it was the wrong path businesswise as AOL is now AOL/Time/Warner, one of the largest and most powerful corporations on planet earth.  You, BizRate.com, may well be on that same path to global domination, but I’ll have you know that you’ll never get any of my money.  I would never have made a purchase from your website for so many reasons, that ad being one of them.  But you weren’t after my money anyway.  The same crack marketing team that not only came up with that ad, but then pumped time, money, and effort into making it real, probably has seen that the demographic I fall into is not a profitable one and has decided to aim its arrows at the much larger and much more stupid middle-American market that shops at Wal-Mart, wears Christmas sweaters, and buys things like greeting cards and Hanna Montana costumes (available at BizRate.com!!!  Makes a great gift!!!)

Good luck to you in your quest for evil.  You seem to have all the tools you need to go straight to the top of this ugly greedy world.


Wylie VanWenger


4 thoughts on “Letter to BizRate.com

  1. Garbijman –

    I wanted to respond to your well-deserved, ire-filled commentary on my company, BizRate/Shopzilla.com. In fact, in some way I am responsible for your very anger over your “induced” experience (the search engine experience, not another variety), as I am responsible for the search engine ad copy experience for our company.

    Yes, we marketed the keyword ‘induced’. Let me explain exactly how and why that came to pass. As a starter, we market tens of millions of keywords. Most of these keywords relate directly to our inventory, such as a “nike shox” shoe, etc.

    As you will likely surmise, it’s impossible for human beings to create, much less think of, tens of millions of unique keywords. Thus, automated systems come into play, based on keywords that someone types into our own search engine on the BizRate or Shopzilla site. Our logs result in keywords being marketed, and most inexact keywords that get large numbers clicks are quickly filtered out, because we don’t wish to buy keywords unrelated to our content.

    That said, there are keyword instances like “induced” getting exposure, but very, very few clicks or impressions, so they remain under our radar (again, back to the tens of millions comment…). In fact, prior to your blog posting, ‘induced’ had received fewer than 10 clicks over a yearlong period (you were clearly one of those 10!). Yes, that’s 10 misleading clicks, but it’s not enough to be seen by analysts, who deal with keywords that get hundreds and thousands of clicks per day.

    Yet, you hit on a very issue that’s core to our business, as we seek to purge our marketing of as many – if not all – of these misleading keywords as possible. We want the user experience to be great, and since it’s obvious that there aren’t many retail products related to induction, this isn’t a keyword we want to have.

    So, in fact, I want to thank you for bringing it to our attention. It was promptly removed when we came upon your blog, and if you go to Google.com and search for “induced”, there is should no longer be a paid search listing. Though you saw an ad on Dictionary.com, we don’t personally place ads there. What happens is that an advertiser markets with Google, and they distribute to other networks, with little control left to the advertiser.

    Finally, as far as the “Bargain Prices, Smart Deals” creative goes, this is actually exactly the right experience for a keyword like “induced”. We market our keywords with relevant ad copy (for instance, a microwave keyword would get copy related to heating your food, etc.), but we rotate creative that will enable generic, vague messaging to play in concert with any keywords that are mistakenly bought by our automated processes. Again, tens of millions of keywords makes tens of millions of unique creatives impossible. So while it was a random, seemingly illogical scenario for you the user, from an automated perspective, it was actually part of the backstop design of our creative strategy with inaccurate keywords.

    While I fear BizRate has lost you as a potential customer or convert, I want you to know that we take your concerns very seriously, and acted quickly to rectify that poorly chosen keyword. The somewhat amusing irony is that, for us to have marketed that keyword to begin with, someone actually came to BizRate or Shopzilla and typed “induced” into our site. That user logic is almost as warped as us subsequently marketing that keyword.

    Thank you again for pointing out where we were falling short, and I hope that we can do a better job for you – and other consumers – in 2009 (in fact, this is a core initiative for our team). It truly is our intention, but sometimes our vast scale reveals cracks in the pavement, which you happened to trip upon.

    And, if nothing else, your complaint has introduced me to an entertaining, very well-written blog.



  2. You really make it seem so easy together with your presentation
    but I in finding this topic to be really one thing that I feel I might never understand.
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    I am taking a look forward on your subsequent put up, I’ll attempt to get the cling of it!

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