It has been known for a very long time that if you can make your Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts look like part of your website then more people will click on them and you will make more money. And, as we know, if there’s a way for making more money without lifting a finger, there’ll be plenty of folks queuing up to do it.
It’s a scam!
Albeit not a scam that takes money from my pocket or from the pocket of anybody visiting the website and clicking on the links…
It’s a scam because the links are placed exactly where the user is going to think they are the thing (the button or the link) that needs to be clicked on next, in order to progress through the website.
It’s a scam because it is trickery for the sole purpose of making a profit by under-handed methods.
When I saw a link on Facebook (shown above) to this website it mentioned we could get free vector images.
The text of the post on Facebook was “really cool free art” and the title of the link was “3D Financial and Business Web Icons – Free Vector Art” so I clicked it to see what it was all about.
When I arrived at the website, I had a quick scroll down and then back up, and saw these huge “Download Vectors” and “Download Graphics” buttons which, as I’m sure anybody would, I clicked one.
The outcome was not visiting a subsequent page within this website. It was not taking me to a page where I could download the aforementioned graphics, it had successfully tricked me and I had been sent to another website where I could purchase graphics.
After being sent to this website, clearly part of an affiliate link program, I am welcomed with this extremely annoying pop-over splash screen that requested my e-mail address before I’ve even seen what their website is about (they must have read “How To Annoy The Crap Out Of Your Potential Customer“).
This is like a salesperson in a shop guarding the door and saying to people who want to come in “give me your address and then I will let you in” which, in the real world, would be greeted with a grunt, a frown, a couple of expletives and a clear view of the back of the potential customer as he or she walks away!
The conclusion; having followed a link placed on Facebook by somebody whose links I normally enjoy (and whose work I rate very highly), I (yes, me, Mr Cynic and ever cautious!) had been tricked by a great big download button, being asked for my e-mail address before I had even seen the website, and when I finally get through to the website (after declining to give my e-mail address – of course – I’m not completely void of my marbles yet) found a $79 offer to start earning money selling high-quality resources!
Is that what everything has got to be about these days?
Nobody cares about being trustworthy, about being genuine, about being honest or, it seems, doing due diligence before sharing a link.
The clear objective of the website I originally clicked the link to visit was/is to get me over to this other website where they can sell me this ‘online business’ of ‘selling high-quality resources’, which, is most likely going to buy me a replica of the website that sells ‘graphics’ (the one with the big download button on it).
Brilliant! Just what we need thousands of websites all selling the exact same thing. As if the Internet isn’t a big enough heap of clutter already!
I know this is nothing new. I know that this goes on. I know that the main objective is to get people to click on links that earn 50 cents per click.
There is no doubt that more and more people being aware of this trickery will have zero influence and will not miraculously make the businesses behind these systems become ethical. And I know that me writing about it (having a whinge – you think it, I’ll say it) will not inject even the slightest amount of common sense because this, sadly, is the Internet.
It doesn’t mean that I (or We) have to like it.
There is a huge difference between ads provided by Google and adverts supplied by many other affiliate link services and pay per click services. Unless somebody has the balls to break the Google code, any advert that we see provided by Google will be disclosed as such (ads by Google).
Pay Per Click providers know that there is more chance of a user clicking a graphic or a text link if it appears to be part of the offering of the website the reader is viewing, than if the advert is disclosed as being an advert. Meaning, quite obviously, by not disclosing that a graphic is, in fact, an advert, they all make more money.
Honesty does not come into it.
Honesty is not part of their game plan.
Honesty is not part of their method statement because honesty is not part of their business model.
I don’t want to be tricked. I just want people to be honest with me. I’m sure (I hope) that applies to millions and millions of people who go on the Internet hoping today is not the day they get tricked.
I clearly do live in cloud cuckoo land.