Knicks Purchase Bing Ads for LeBron, Landing Pages Shoot Air Balls

Could an ill-fated Bing ad foreshadow where “King James” holds court next season in the NBA? As rumors swirled Wednesday that LeBron James was going to sign with the league’s New York franchise, paid ads involving Knicks tickets and the “LeBron James” search term were spotted on Bing:

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After calls with a Knicks spokesperson, it became clear that the team has also been running ads for four other players who have been hot topics in NBA free agent discussions: Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay, Chris Bosh, and Amar’e Stoudemire. While Johnson, Gay, and Bosh have signed with other teams in the last week, Stoudemire has agreed to join the Knicks. Interestingly, the Knicks didn’t buy Bing ads for other big-name free agents like Dwyane Wade that were rumored to be on the New York team’s wish list.

So will the Knicks shoot 40 percent from the Bing field? That answer will be known when James’ announces his decision live on ESPN Thursday night.

But it’s already evident that the Knicks’ marketing team has been shooting air balls when it comes to some aspects of its search strategy. The paid ads for “LeBron James,” “Amare Stoudemire,” “Joe Johnson,” “Chris Bosh,” and “Rudy Gay” lead to a landing page that advertises season ticket offers for the since-passed 2009-2010 season.

The paid search copy (see examples above) also hypes the 2009-2010 season in some instances. The Knicks spokesperson wasn’t able to confirm when exactly the Bing ads targeted to James and the other players went live, but said it was most likely when 2010-2011 season tickets went on sale in February. Therefore it’s fair to wonder how much budget has gone to paid clicks directing interested tickets purchasers to the wrong landing page.

That’s especially worth considering in light of the traffic that likely came with Wednesday’s chatter. NBA player Jared Dudley tweeted that his sources said James was going to sign in New York. And NFL football player Chad Johnson (also known as “Ocho Cinco”) did the same on Twitter. In addition, reports circulated that James’ televised decision would be broadcast from Greenwich, CT, a suburb of New York City.

If James does sign with the Knicks, the team could probably pull all running search buys and still sell nearly every ticket for its 41 games at Madison Square Garden next season. That’s a slam-dunk that not even the worst landing page could block.

Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.

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