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Gulf oil spill: To control message, BP buys search terms from Google

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(Read caption) As BP knows, when it comes to a PR war, controlling how Web users search for information is at least half the battle. This week, BP purchased search terms from Google, in an attempt to inform readers of its Gulf coast oil spill clean-up efforts.

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Late last month, as the controversy over the Gulf oil spill was just heating up, BP tussled with the folks behind a popular spoof Twitter feed. Now comes word that the PR department at BP has forked over a healthy chunk of change to control the way Web users view the company. According to BP reps, the company has purchased a range of popular search terms – including "oil spill" – from Google, the most popular search engine in the US.

So what does it mean to "purchase" a search term? Well, it certainly doesn't make all the negative results go away. Today, for instance, a Google search for "oil spill" returned a range of results, including a Huffington Post article and a Wikipedia entry on oil spills.


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