informa
/
Commentary

Marketing In Death Online

A paid link resulting from a Google search ties roadside memorials for victims of traffic fatalilties to an ad marketing travel services.
A paid link resulting from a Google search ties roadside memorials for victims of traffic fatalilties to an ad marketing travel services.Buried deep in an article in The New York Times (registration required) Monday about the proliferation of roadside memorials was a reference to the Internet fostering interest in memorials as countless Web sites featured extensive photo galleries of memorials from around the world.

A Google search of "roadside memorials" resulted in 47,800 links, and among the paid links were sites such as A Roadside Memorial.com that markets "hand-crafted and hand-painted crosses made of quality Italian decorative iron." No one would be surprised to find sites that try to sell products--such as memorial plaques or books featuring photos of roadside memorials--from such a Google search. But to see a link offering travel and financial services from the American Automobile Association [I'm an AAA member, btw] was a bit strange.

A spokeswoman for AAA says the auto club pays for sponsored terms using the word roadside, such as "roadside assistance," but never authorized the term "roadside memorial." But she says that doesn't mean a local AAA affiliated club didn't purchase that term.

Still, whether intended or not, it's an unusual way to market an auto club.