The Truth About (Most) Free Advertising

There are two big questions I search the answers to whenever I see the word FREE. I do this because FREE is usually BS. Free is most often a trick, a con, a scam, a lure. I like to call it a “gotcha!”

They get you attention with the word free. Gotcha!

They make you think you’re about to sommat for nowt. Gotcha!

They want you to feel all warm and gooey inside. Gotcha!

The Internet is full of tricks that start out with things like:

  • Subscribe to get our free ebook. Gotcha!
  • Click “Like” on our page for free info. Gotcha!
  • Give us your name and email address and get free info sent directly to your inbox. Gotcha!
  • Free domains. Gotcha!
  • Free hosting. Gotcha!
  • Free blogs. Gotcha!
  • Sign up for free entry into our competition. Gotcha!
  • Free directory listings for your business. Gotcha!
  • Sign up for free monthly/weekly deals you can’t afford to miss. Gotcha!
  • Free classifieds adverts – sell anything for FREE! Gotcha!

Why are they all in the “Gotcha” class? Because they are interested in one thing and one thing only: To get you on their list.

What is “the list” thing all about? It’s the big numbers game marketers and so called marketing experts play. They get you to give them your name and email address once and they can use that information for years and years trickling info to you until one day you buy something.

They can sell or rent out your info. Yes, I know they say they won’t but that’s BS too – how many unsolicited phone calls and emails have you had this week? Where did they all get your details from if you didn’t give it to them all?

Ha ha… They Gotcha!

You think Google gives us all these wonderful apps and services for free cos they are all such friendly and generous dudes? Hello Cuckoo land! Reality check. We are worth pennies to them. You, me, everyone. A few pennies each and Google got billions worth of “lists” they can use time and time again.

Facebook? Probably the biggest and most successful ” Gotcha!” player around.

I recently wrote a few pages on Social Classifieds UK about this, in which I explained

Speaking to a very experienced Pay Per Click Expert some time ago I was told (in a “no holds barred” and extremely frank discussion) that advert driven websites DO NOT WANT READERS READING THEIR CONTENT.

That’s the mentality of most websites that give away “free” advertising or directory listings.

Further, it was explained to me by a guy who spent several years as the developer on a free classifieds website that

…we don’t want our advertisers to sell their stuff because they would delete the listing which would strip valuable traffic generating content from our website. We need that content. We’d rather have ten million useless ads indexed by Google than a few thousand good ones. With pay per click ads on every page, having millions of ads is brilliant for our revenue. The business can’t fail to make lots of money.

Hanging out in the right circles led me to the handshake of a guy who runs the design team at a car selling website where all ads are free. He told me:

if the person selling a car sells it in a week, they delete their advert and we don’t have “access to them” again for several years. So we aren’t bothered one iota if they don’t sell. In fact, we’d rather they didn’t. Or, if they do, we hope they forget to remove their advert because then we still get traffic to their advert which exposes people to our display ads and also we have the advertiser on our mailing list.