Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Is it a blog or an ad?

When I was a kid we used to watch Saturday morning cartoons. At some point companies figured out that kids would beg their parents to purchase items related to the shows we liked. Suddenly the focus of the shows became less about the content and more about how to incorporate items that people would buy. Several shows became nothing more than 1/2 hour commercials. I hated those shows.

I, however, was in the minority. Unfortunately, this practice is not just limited to the Saturday morning cartoons anymore. Now it includes everything from 2 hour "infomercials" (10 new egg recipes - that only work with our "Egg Cooky Device") to articles/blogs (How to get more followers on Twitter - buy my "Twitter Follow People App") 

The really frustrating thing about these is that many of them portray themselves as a real and legitimate news or information source, when what they really are is a thinly veiled advertising. Unsuspecting people who are looking for information online don't need to be bogged down with 100's of search results for "articles" that are nothing more than sales ads.

Now, there is nothing wrong with a product review, or even a "full page" advertisement. In fact these things can be very helpful if I want to learn about a specific product. Product review articles and comparisons can be very interesting - if I want a product. Often though, I'm looking for something that isn't product specific, like a recipe or information about how to better use social media. (I'm always learning.)

When I click on a link that turns out to be nothing more than a sales pitch it becomes frustrating. Not to mention I make a point to never, if possible, visit the site again. So not only did the company not solve my problem, they have permanently damaged any possible relationship we might have had.

If you are planning on creating one of these deceptive style articles then remember this. No one likes a bait and switch.

Do you know of a company that uses this type of tactic? List them in the comments - so we can all avoid them.