More Suing Bloggers

I am seriously late on this one, but I still want to show my support for Lance Dutson, author of the Main Web Report, who is being sued by an advertising firm and harassed by the state government for uncovering some really dumb activities at the state tourism board.  A summary of what he found is here, and the story of the lawsuits is here.

This story rings absolutely true with me.  Given our significant experience with government agencies, I have seen time and time again that when government bureaucrats embark on an activity out of their traditional comfort zones (in this case, Internet pay-per-click advertising, a new activity for most of us) they tend to combine lack of training with total arrogance that they know exactly what they are doing.  Within my company we have dubbed this "condescending incompetence", and we see it all the time.

In this case, Mr. Dutson points out that by bidding up the price in Google adwords of travel-related terms, they are actually hurting Maine travel businesses, both by driving up their advertising costs and by diverting clicks from an actual tourist business to a government site.  And how could any sensible cost-benefit analysis lead to paying over $15 to get one (1) viewer to the government tourist web site?  The answer is, it can't.  The only thing that can drive this behavior is ignorance combined with a skewed incentive system (e.g. some bureaucrat wanted a line in a performance review or PowerPoint chart that said their web site was top-ranked on every key Google search).  And he rightly points out some disturbing conflicts of interest at the advertising agency, as well as the total bonehead maneuver of putting an adult phone-sex number in the ad copy.

By the way, I despise state tourism agencies.  Most of the money they spend is a waste and the rest goes to directly benefit a few cronies.  Most of our local dollars go to high-profile expenditures that gets the governor some extra media buzz but does zero to get anyone new to the state.   And note that I run a business that depends 100% on tourism.  These state expenditures do nothing for me.  In some cases, my customers pay as high as 12% lodging taxes (e.g. tax and bureaucracy hell Mono County, California) to fund tourist boards who don't even advertise the types of operations I run (campgrounds and marinas).

  • TC

    Having spent much time in meetings of a simiiar nature, different state, it's pretty easy to get the wool pulled over your eyes.

    Been there done that.

    But once it's pointed out to you, by someone that knows, it's time to say gee, diddn't realize this. Can you help us understand and get it fixed?

    Amazing how those beauros can't see the potential of getting sued by those effected entities as it appears the state in now in direct competition with them. Shame on those that choose ignorance. Even worse when they are supposed to be working FOR you and not AGAINST you!

    Go gittim Dut!!

  • flyfish

    So typically Maine. Sometimes it is an embarrasment to live here with the State Government that we have. This is just the tip of the iceberg of just how stupid, vindictive and incompetant my state Government is.