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…DYH isn’t funny?

Dear Apple,

I am very sorry for the trouble that I have caused you. I didn’t mean to tarnish your reputation, and I hope that you can find it in your core to forgive me. All I wanted was a few laughs, and nothing more. I didn’t fully think through my idea, and had I given it a bit more thought, I definitely would have reconsidered. Hopefully this will fall under the “all publicity is good publicity” category, and you’ll sell a few more iPhones. Please accept this apology, and I hope that this helps to clear your name of any wrongdoing.


Cory O’Brien

Let me explain: Everything started so innocently. This morning, I published a small story about the Nokia ad that used the iPhone price drop for a little free publicity. A lightbulb went off in my head, and I thought that since readers of the story might go and type “iphone price drop” into Google to verify the Nokia ad for themselves, I could add another ad to that search term that would get some laughs. I wanted to mirror the look of the Nokia ad, so I came up with this:

Apple AdWords Ad

I set up the ad so that it would only display when a user searched for “iphone price drop” (the search string from the original story that I had written about), capped the ad to $20 per day, put in $.05 per click, figured that it would get a few views from people who wanted to see the Nokia ad for themselves, and left for work.

Boy was I wrong.

Apparently someone picked up on the additional ad, and the story ended up here, and here, and here, and here, just to name a few of the bigger blogs that I could find.

Eventually, the news made its way to Apple, which promptly called Commission Junction, which promptly called me to have me remove the ad. Since I was at work, I was unable to answer the phone call, and a very nice rep from Commission Junction left me a very nice message that asked me very strongly (though nicely) to remove the ad.

Of course I promptly complied, as I had no intention of going against The Apple, so I fired up my AdWords account to see what was going on.

2,781 impressions and 354 clicks later, my ad had cost me a total of $17.55, and had a click through ratio of 12.72 percent.

I guess it didn’t go as unnoticed as I had planned.

2,781 views isn’t much for a campaign on Google, but unfortunately, one of those 2,781 views forwarded the story to one of the bigger blogs, and things kind of spiraled out of control from there.

One blog linked to the next, not one bothered to fact check, and suddenly, Apple became the uncaring company that was taking cheap shots at its customers.

    (I was actually somewhat surprised by the fact that so many people thought Apple would do something like this. They’re a huge company, with a huge legal department, and to think that they would let something like this slide by doesn’t give them enough credit. Just look at how fast they tracked me down!)

All in all, I hope that I can count this as a lesson learned, and I’m definitely going to steer clear of any AdWords campaigns that might get me in this much trouble in the future. (Apple, please don’t sue me.) It was intended as a joke, and I unfortunately have no control over how the information was spread. In hindsight, I should have given Apple’s reaction a bit more thought, but I just didn’t think that many people would see the ad, so I never even considered the potential backlash.

Moral of the story: No, Apple is not the evil company that some people hope they are. (They did just give back $100 to anyone that bought a bit early.) They would never put out an ad like this, and I’m surprised by how many people think they would. I’m taking full responsibility, and I just hope that the seed I sewed doesn’t grow much bigger.

Just to set the record straight: Apple quickly removed my Commission Junction affiliation, so I didn’t make a dime off of the ad, (Though I’m not complaining since it cost me less than a Jackson.)

Also, official ads on Google that are paid for by Apple look like this:

Official Apple Ad

See how their address is, and mine was Also, see where their ad is placed? That’s usually a pretty good clue about the source of an ad. Fortunately, some of the various blogs’ commenters picked up on the fact that this was an affiliate ad, and not one placed by Apple, and called it out as such. Unfortunately, many of the blogs themselves did not. Fact checking would have saved me quite a bit of worry in this situation, so my plea to the big boy blogs is this: Keep those journalistic integrities intact, and Check That Fact!

[Photo Via: Search Engine Land]