How the Akin Mess (Inadvertently) Became a Promotional Moment for Sundance

Network Bought Twitter Placement in Political Search Results

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AMC Network's Sundance Channel has gotten caught up in the Todd Akin imbroglio.

The Missouri congressman set the Twittersphere, and plenty of other spheres, ablaze last weekend when he suggested that "legitimate rape" rarely leads to pregnancy. So it made sense that his opponent for the senate, Claire McCaskill, would buy ads on Twitter that show up when users searched for "Akin," as Peter Kafka at All Things D pointed out.

But there was another promoted Tweet tied to "Akin" whose correlation was less clear: this post for Sundance Channel's new series "Get to Work."

It turns out that Sundance, part of AMC Networks, did not specifically ask to be associated with the keyword "Akin." It had been running a broader Twitter campaign for the series, which addresses unemployment issues, according to a person at the network. Given the series' political undertones, "politics" was a keyword included in the algorithm, the person said.

"Twitter 'chooses' where your promoted tweets appear based on your category selection," the person added. "It appears that since 'Akin' was trending, our promoted tweets ended up appearing in searches related to him."

"There's no way to know when you buy a category something like this will happen," the person said. "You run that risk."

Sundance didn't contact Twitter over its inadvertent association with the Akin mess because its "Get to Work" promotion had actually run its course and was no longer costing the network. Searching for "Akin" today doesn't seem to trigger the "Get to Work" ads any more -- just Sen. McCaskill's more relevant ad:

Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.

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