As if it wasn’t enough that fake blogs (“flogs”) had taken over weight loss, wrinkle cream, and teeth whitening ads across the Internet, it’s now apparent that the trend is quickly spreading into new markets.
First, for those of you who have not seen a fake blog, here’s how it works. Check out the ads (powered by Quigo) on the homepage of AOL.com:
As you can see, the entire inventory of text ads is being controlled by people claiming to be individual bloggers who are somehow willing to spend $3 a click to ‘share their story’ with the masses. Of course, once you click through the site, it’s obvious that the success stories are nothing more than cut-and-paste templatized sites that push unsuspecting readers into affiliate continuity programs – the kind where you get billed for months on end for a product you don’t really want.
I’ve written extensively about this scam, but if you want to see an example in action, here’s one of the top click buyers on AOL:
What particularly surprising to me is to see that these fake blogs are rapidly expanding into areas that I would have always assumed would avoid their wrath. Two examples come to mind. First, I was recently helping a friend out who was doing some research to buy enterprise servers for his rapidly growing Web site. So, naturally, I did a search on Google for “enterprise servers.” Check out the first listing:
Pretty shocking, huh? And sure enough, when you click through on the ad you get the same fake blog experience I’ve come to dread:
But wait, it gets worse! It turns out that corporate marketing departments are getting into the game. I did a search on “debt consolidation” recently (again, not for me but for a friend) and look at the #1 result:
And then the landing page they are using is absolutely ridiculous (another bad flog design):
Where will these flogs go to next? Also, if someone creates a fake-fake blog, does that make it a real blog? What’s the sound of one hand clapping? Is today the first day of April? :)