Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
AOL Tech

BP Garners Criticism for Ads Targeting Oil Spill Search Results

BP Advertising
The irreversible ecological, financial and personal devastation wreaked by the BP oil disaster certainly has triggered feelings of depression, helplessness and rage in both local and international observers. BP's stagnant response, deplorable statements and corrective failures, all of which have tainted the agonizing six-week cleanup period, exacerbate those emotions to an indescribable level.

In following its trend of grossly underestimating the leakage, of denying the existence of underwater plumes and of neglecting its promises, the British company also apparently hopes to disguise blatant propaganda as advertising results. Terms related to the disaster continue to rank among the most popular queries on search engines, so BP reportedly paid Google and Yahoo! to host its own links in response to popular phrases like "BP oil disaster," "BP oil," "Deepwater Horizon" and others. Perched atop a list of results -- under a faded and almost unnoticeable "sponsored link" label -- a link about "How BP is helping" grabs readers' attention.

It may appear like a modern day publicity move, but, as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal shrewdly declared, perhaps BP should spend those millions of dollars of ad money "on our people, our industries and our communities that are suffering as a result of this spill." BP issued a statement alleging that the scheme makes "it easier for people to find key links" about filing claims, volunteering and reporting oil sightings, but the displayed link mentions none of those options.

At this point, most observers should possess the ability to discern BP's motives and techniques, so hopefully even casual readers will recognize the sponsored links as such. Google reigns as the Web's most visited site and one of the wealthiest tech entities in the U.S., so it wields immeasurable influence and suggestive power. Corporations, particularly those confronted by intensifying public fury and consumer aversion, should use such power appropriately. [From: ABC News]

Tags: advertising, BobbyJindal, bp, BpOilSpill, google, pr, SearchAds, SponsoredLinks, top, web, yahoo