The search engines must review their policies accepting mortgage and financial ads related to consumer credit. Companies such as Interactive Corp.–which own both a search engine and a financial services company (in this case Ask and LendingTree.com)–also must re-examine how they conduct their business promoting mortgages and other credit. Itâ€™s all too easy for search engines to say, we just are selling the ads. But the financial sector, notes clickz, accounts for around 17% of the online ad market. There is a national tragedy here for many Americans, and the online ad industry has to own up to its role. Search engines need to do a better job investigating these companies to make sure they are offering financial services that are fair and not morally usurious. Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN and major online platformsâ€“especially those that allowed such ads to runâ€“ should also support national legislation aiding those Americans who now find themselves facing eviction. The online ad industry should voluntarily create a bail-out fund as well, returning some of its profits it earned.
Where is the moral leadership in the online ad industry? Which CEO at what search engine, ad industry trade group, or online financial marketer will stand-up and say: we must do better.
PS: It’s worth reading clickz’s Anna Maria Virzi’s piece published today on “What Does the Mortgage Meltdown Mean for Online Advertising?” Especially the last few grafs.
PPS: Here’s a perceptive analysis from Feb. 2007 on the role of Google, Yahoo!, etc and online mortgage ads [excerpt]: “As you are aware, Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO) have cashed in big time from the mortgage boom. Direct lenders, conventional banks and lead aggregators like Lending Tree, Nextag and LowerMyBills.com have all paid top dollar to drive online traffic to their site. Keywords like “mortgage” and “refinance” have gone for as high as $20 to $30 per click during peak times…Mortgage companies…have all been heavy contributors to Google’s coffers. Yahoo too, but not as much as Google.”
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