Mesothelioma – The Most Expensive Keyword

By BKV in Media Strategy on June 8th, 2010

Mesothelioma. It's hard to say and even harder to spell. Most people don't even know what it is, yet it is the most expensive keyword you can bid on in the paid search space. In fact, mesothelioma and mesothelioma-related keywords made up more than half of the top 10 most expensive keywords last year according to Comscore. And, working with them on a day-to-day basis, I can guarantee the validity of that statistic. While you're bidding $1.25 for "blue tennis shoes," I'm pushing past Google's recently lifted bid cap and spending $125 for "mesothelioma lawyer." With one click, mesothelioma spends more than some ad groups do in an entire day. Yes, it's that crazy. And just why is it so crazy? A while ago, companies were using asbestos in all their products, and - as we all know today - asbestos is very bad for your health. Companies back then knew this, too, but still kept on infusing everything with asbestos from oven mitts to ship bulkheads. As it turns out, asbestos exposure 40-50 years down the road can cause a deadly form of cancer called, you guessed it, mesothelioma. Mesothelioma typically has a poor prognosis, usually leaving its victim with less than two years to live. The fatal nature of mesothelioma means that lawsuits can command an enormous settlement; we're talking in the millions of dollars. Lawyers, knowing this, flocked to the paid search space, driving the CPCs on mesothelioma-related keywords to astronomical proportions. While only 2,500 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed every year, competitors continue to join the paid search space, driving up CPCs even more. Working in the mesothelioma space is unlike any other paid search account you'll ever work on. While you might have been hesitant to cross that $10 CPC boundary on another term, you won't think twice about jumping from $50 to a $75 CPC with mesothelioma. While mesothelioma's CPCs are scrapping the sky with their costs, the only thing mesothelioma's conversion rate is scraping is the bottom of a barrel. If you're selling something people actually want (unlike a fatal asbestos-related cancer), you can get hundreds of responses in a single day. A great week with mesothelioma would be a handful of responses. Have you ever tried to optimize an account when you only had 5 conversions? Throw statistical significance out the window! For all its challenges though, the mesothelioma space keeps us here at BKV sharp and innovative. We have to stay abreast of all the latest Google betas, constantly test our TDs and landing pages, and expand our keyword lists searching for those elusive long tails that won't cost us $100 a click. It may not be the most glamorous paid search account to work on, but it certainly has made me a better advertiser for having worked on it. Everyone should have a chance in their career to work on something where the normal rules of paid search don't apply. And now that you know the story behind mesothelioma, maybe you'll think twice about clicking on one of those mesothelioma ads knowing that you just cost some poor media planner $110 for that single click.