[Click on the CNN Breaking News email alert screenshot for large preview]
Like Google News Alerts, CNN too offers an email alert service to help readers track news topics of their interest - they get an instant email each time a story is published on CNN that matches some pre-defined keywords.
But there's a small problem with the CNN implementation - the email message has no links where the subscriber can click to visit either the CNN homepage or the story page that's mentioned in the alert message.
If you're reading the email alert in GMail, you are likely to see an ad on the right that points to CNN.com. (see screenshot)
GMail users, who may be feeling a bit lazy to type the CNN URL in their web browsers, are extremely likely to take a shortcut - they'll click that convenient Google ad to visit the CNN website for reading the full story content online.
And for CNN, that's equivalent to wasting ad dollars. They are buying traffic through online ads which could have easily come to them for free had they put a simple link in their breaking news email alert messages.