Most internet ad buyers probably apply a commonly held belief that search volume equates to consumer interest so they bid on the most popular keywords that represent their product line.
A Google.org post appears to refute this strategy, at least in regard to swine flu search volume trends.
See: Google Flu Trends expands to 16 additional countries.
The Google post states that "An important aspect of Google Flu Trends is that we filter out terms that may be popular because people hear about them in the news.
What we do not use in the models is a term like (swine flu) since people are more likely to type that into Google because they want to know more information about it, given the news headlines, and not because they actually have H1N1 or swine flu."
If popular keywords such as "swine flu" do not correspond closely to real world activities (e.g. CDC ILI contacts), it may be preferable for internet ad bidders to invest in R&D to find other sets of keywords that have a stronger correlation with consumer activities and bid on those instead.
For example, a cola soft drink manufacturer may find that its yearly sales pattern is a closer match to Google Trends graphs for "sunscreen" or "ice cubes", than to "cola".
Users may run searches for "cola" to get more information about it, making it a high-volume keyword, but not because they are going to consume it.
Rethinking the keyword search volume to consumer action correlation is a significant paradigm shift. It is already applied in Google Flu Trends, but probably not yet by most bidders in Google ad auctions.
See: Search engine ads: auctions or page rank?
Here is my original SETI research.