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Search for "air purifiers" -- #2 for me is a press release from the California Environmental Protection Agency.
I don't intend on creating some political debatefest (thats your choice)... but, this raises some interesting issues. First, "air purifiers" is a $1+ keyword, and it gets a lot of searches. This seems to indicate this is more than a PSA.
If they'd learn how to run those keywords to relevant platforms/stances on issues, could have been an interesting technique - but everyone I saw was run to a homepage.
However, politics and the government are two seperate things. One gets its money from donations the other gets money from every US citizen with an income.
Being #2 for a $1+ keyword that gets over 100,000 searches a month is a significant amount of money for business owners -- but not the government.
Worst case scenario here, what if other state governments were bidding for the same keyword and drove everyone else to page 2?
I don't see how this is an issue beyond someone worrying that they'll get outspent in their adwords campaign.
I'm not convinced with the argument of being concerned about their tax money being spent on online advertising while ignoring the likely more significant amounts being spent on offline advertising (not to mention the $2,000 nails etc. we pay for, hehe).
So where is the issue?
I'd say 'hat's off' to California for taking an adventurous step in the public interest. I hope it's running on Adsense too. Plus, we don't see all their campaign settings, but from what we can see it looks to be an intelligently designed campaign. If I my state government did something like this, I would have no concern about such a use of my taxes.
It's possible that its a marketer of a different type of system trying to educate consumers.