A few weeks back I pointed out an egregiously fake blog claiming to be an individual’s story of amazing weight loss through an Acai berry diet. It turns out that this blog was one of about 100 that are currently flooding contextual advertising online. Almost all of them recommend the exact same affiliate products, with the same pictures, ‘testimonials’ and fake comments. As I noted then, I think this is really fraudulent marketing and I think it is only a matter of time before either the ad networks or the FTC crack down on these bad actors.
Well, like a cancer that must be fought early to prevent spreading, the ‘success’ of these fake blogs has now spurned copycats in other areas of online marketing. Today I noticed more blatantly fake blogs popping up in Google AdWords, this time for wrinkle cream sales. Check out these two sites – one from “Heather” and another from “Kathy.” They look a wee bit familiar, don’t they?
And guess what – they’re both showing up on the exact same keywords too – so not only is this fake advertising, it’s also a violation of Google’s double-serving policy (and people marvel at Google’s ability to exceed earnings expectations – can you say ‘goodbye Quality Score during a recession?).
But wait – it gets even worse! It turns out that whoever created these fake blogs didn’t do very good editing because the comments in Heather’s blog have a comment from “Hannah, Heather’s sister” and the comments in Kathy’s blog have a comment from “Hannah Heather’s sister.” Um, Hannah, I think you meant that you were Kathy’s sister, right?
I could go on and on about the lameness of this marketing, but I think you get the point. The outstanding question, however, is when Google and the affiliate programs that allow this kind of crap, will get it. As I’ve noted before, when online advertising doesn’t regulate itself, we leave ourselves open to regulation by others. And that’s a lose-lose for everyone. Stop the insanity!