Air Force Careers in Singapore: A PPC Campaign Gone Wrong

Yesterday I was doing some reading up on what are the latest Netbooks and what to look out for in getting one. I was nudged by a friend to check if there are any models with 3G modems integrated in them. So I was doing some searching…

Knowing that the MSI Wind is a popular model in Singapore, and not knowing the website to find the specifications, I searched for “MSI Wind”. Yes, I got to the site which answered my queries… but guess what Google Ads turned up?

RSAF (Republic of Singapore Air Force) Careers!

MSI Wind is RSAF Career

What the?!

Why would someone searching for “MSI Wind” be a looking for a career in the Air Force?

After reading the ad copy, which says “Pilot The Latest Technology. Find Out About Air Force Careers Now!” I understood how they linked up.

They must be thinking … MSI Wind => Gadget => Technology => Air Force => Career.

That’s a looong string of thoughts! If this works, an ad for “teddy bears” can be probably selling rare Italian bred spiders! :mrgreen:

I seriously doubt they are getting any good targeted traffic for that ad.

But that’s not all. I went on to investigate this further. I took out the “MSI” word. Guess what? The ad STILL appeared! Wind. What has “wind” have to do with careers in the Singapore Air Force?

Wind is RSAF Air Force

I thought… okay, let’s try to catch them doing something right.

I searched “Pilot”.


Yes! Phew. Finally something relevant. But apart from “pilot” and “air force” – I really couldn’t find other relevant terms. Note though, that “pilot” and “air force” are very broad matches. I can search for “How to date a pilot”.. and the ad still shows!

How to Date a Pilot

Will dating a pilot secure me a career in the Air Force!? Or will a career in the Air Force give me a higher chance to date a pilot?


I tried searching for more specific terms… long tail keywords, and keywords that will bring in a more targeted audience. No ads.

Some examples which I think would be highly targeted:

“Aircraft Technician Career” – No Ads

Aircraft Technician Career

“Career in Singapore” – No Ads

Career in Singapore

“Career in the Military” – No Ads

Air Force Career Career in the Military
Update: After investigating further, I found they are doing a broad match on “career” too, but perhaps the ads were drowned by the other job portals.

How to be an air traffic controller – No Ads

How to be an Air Traffic Controller

Either Google is playing tricks, or their keywords are really really messed up big time. Either way, we all now know how effective this ad campaign is going to be in recruiting people.

That’s just the ad, that’s not all. Do you what you get when you follow the URL on the ad?

You get directed to full flash page with an intro.

The words appeared slowly, saying “I am the Wind…” and things like that and a helicopter flying in slowly… taking a full 15 – 20 seconds.

RSAF Careers Website

Frankly… I don’t care if you are the wind or I am the wind! I want to find my career!

Guess where are the advertised “careers”?

Look again! Its at the top right, in feint colors and teeny weeny fonts. And all they showed was a row of “gravatar” sized pictures. You had to hover on them to find out what each picture actually links to.

Didn’t notice them on the first look, did you?

If there is one thing that reminded me of, it would be the control panel on Red Alert or Command and Conquer (the strategy computer games) to build a new trooper!

Haha! Maybe that’s what they want people to think.

With all due respect to the technological advancements we have in our military, I think the our Air Force Recruitment Center has totally missed the point when it comes to search marketing.

The advertising campaign might have been great for branding if done offline – if they wanted to relate “Wind” to the air force and that air force personnel are “swift like the wind” and things like that. But this is a classic example of applying conventional marketing practices on search marketing – gone terribly wrong.

Whoever managed this Google Adwords campaign should better have a good reason why they are doing this, or better go and work on their keywords. If not, this campaign is going to be simply A LOT of money wasted of serverely untargeted advertising.


  1. Pingback: Wrong Wind for RSAF

  2. I have a feeling that the recruitment department for RSAF leave everything to the PPC consultant thinking that he is an expert. It is so important to get educated on SEO and how PPC works, before employing the help of a PPC consultant to do any campaign. I hope they do not have that mentality of “Ah Kong’s Money”…. every Click is using our tax payors’ money also.

  3. Unfortunately we are not very good sales professionals. We are just meaningful SEO Professionals who are here to assist others to make sure those who use us get meaningful and targeted results for their money’s worth.

  4. I’d be interested to know how you go with your netbook research. Medion akoya which I have – via Aldi store – is evidently a re-badged MSI Wind. A review here – and here I have about 24 hours left to decide whether I want to keep my Medion: I think I will – it cost AU$599 by the way, which I think is a good price for what I got.

  5. I think it’s a total waste of taxpayers’ money. I wonder how much money per click they are bidding on since they are appearing on the very first page for such a general keyword “pilot”

    $100 per click?! :mrgreen:


  6. I wonder if anyone would get fired for this. 😛 Probably the SEO provider would justify it by claiming its a branding exercise. You know, “If you think of the wind, you’ll think of our pilots soaring in the sky”.

    Cool. 🙄

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  8. Pingback: Wrong Wind for RSAF