An insurance firm has apologised for buying the keyword Malaysia Airlines on Google Adwords and running an ad saying ‘Is MH17 Malaysian Airlines tragedy a sign to consider life insurance’? following this morning’s disaster.
The ads for Victoria-based Lisa Group appeared above stories of the tragedy – in which 298 people died, including 27 Australians, when people searched for the term Malaysia Airlines.
The ads appeared on searches of Malaysian Airlines, indicating Google Adwords had been bought with the aim of driving traffic to the Lisa Group site.
Lisa Group shifted responsibility for the ads to its overseas partner which handles the search engine marketing and produce leads for the insurance firm.
The practice was described as “predatory advertising” in one tweet.
“We were made aware of the ads and immediately contacted our overseas partner and ordered it to be taken down,” said Warren, an employee of Lisa Group who declined to reveal his surname before putting down the phone on Mumbrella.
A search of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) revealed the holder of the Lisa Group ABN as Warren Grant Lazarus.
“I apologise for any distress this has caused,” Warren added. “We have removed the ad.”
He refused to name the SEO firm or comment on whether it would continue working with the company.
On Friday both Mumbrella and The Conversation posted and then removed an opinion article from a UK academic on what Malaysia Airlines should do in their communications response to the tragedy, acknowledging the timing as insensitive.