I just got bombarded by a bunch of emails for the latest WordPress plugin that promises to increase the number of clicks on your blog. I’m sure you’ve probably seen a few of them.
It really sounds interesting, and from what I can see, it probably works great.
The problem is how it works. It is based on trickery and deception!
In fact, this is what you see in bright red letters just above the fold of the WSO page:
Then We Travelled To The Dark Side Of The Internet & Came Back With This Simple Plugin That’s So Effective At Generating Clicks That It’s Almost Bordering On Evil!
I’m sorry, but it’s well over the border.
Basically, the plugin formats your ads so that they look like various instant messenger popups. You can have it look like MSN, Yahoo! Messenger, etc. The idea is that people will respond to an instant message since they are expecting messages from their friends. It apparently works on dating sites, so now we’re being encouraged to use this technique everywhere.
I’m all for finding ways to get peoples’ attention. That is what marketing is about. But tricking people into thinking your ad is something that it isn’t just doesn’t sit well with me.
Perhaps it’s just me. Maybe I’m a little too sensitive here. But do you really want to start your relationship with a new lead by tricking them? Is that the feeling that you want to start with? You’ve probably been on the receiving end of a deceptive sales program before. I bet you didn’t enjoy the process.
There is probably a fine line here. I’ve been around long enough to remember the banner ads that looked like a Windows 95 alert box, so the technique isn’t really all that new. Magazines often have full page ads that look like an article in the magazine, but now they need to have a big “ADVERTISEMENT” warning label on them.
Google AdWords encourages us to put text links in our articles on our AdWords sites. Just blend them in and it looks like part of the post. They say it works but is it honest?
When we’re looking at marketing techniques we need to look beyond just the rate at which it works. We need to take into account how it works and judge it by the honesty behind the mechanism.
What do you think? Is it going too far to have your ads look like another program’s messages popping up? Or is that fair game? Let us know in the comments. Invite your friends to have their say too.