Crack Down: Sadly this appears to be working

Here at Compete we’re always looking out for new marketing and advertising techniques – and we found an interesting one recently. First, here’s the homepage of  I click on the advertisement highlighted below:

That led me to this page, hosted at

This is some misleading marketing here – but I have to say I almost admire the work that went into the effort.  They’ve got what appears to be a news site, with a news story – complete with comments and Facebook likes.  They are also clearly using IP-sniffing to generate content on the page (in my case, local weather).

This isn’t just a strategy for straight advertising either – these types of pages are also designed to work well in terms of SEO.  I have a feeling there is a whole department somewhere at Google that must look at these types of pages to figure out how they can tell real content from just pure marketing pages – a job that was probably a lot easier when they were just simple link farms.

The next question is whether or not this is working – and we can check that using Compete PRO’s daily reach metric.

As you can see – people are looking at this page.   And while I admire the work that went into this page, I can’t help but worry a bit about the future of the web when I see something like this – marketing disguised as content is nothing new, but with the internet you can take it from a sideshow to an art form.   Consumers everywhere, beware!

About Damian Roskill:
Damian Roskill is the Managing Director of Marketing at Compete. Before Compete Damian was head of products for a video start-up and has worked in start-ups for most of his career. Damian's career aspiration is to be at one with the advertising universe. Damian can be found on Twitter as Droskill, or connect with him on LinkedIn at

Categories: Ad Impact | Agency & Publisher Solutions | Marketing Effectiveness Intelligence™


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  1. Denise Hamlin

    I agree Damian. Impressive and scary at the same time. Fortunately consumers are just as savvy as the folks who came up with this and can recognize they are being pitched. You’re right to worry about the impact on SEO though. Although I imagine that department you mention at Google is just as smart and will in time figure this out too.


    • Shane

      Man, I really have to disagree, Denise. You and I may spot it as a fake right away, but I would bet WELL over half of web users wouldn’t even suspect anything.


  2. Pavlicko

    Like you, I both hate and admire this type of marketing.

    Personally, I think the only ones that would fall for that are the same ones that fall for the ‘ as seen in the NYT ‘ ads. Once you click on any of the links, it takes you to one of those endless one-page e-book style sites….

    What I think that they did smart is include a fake facebook like button with thousands of fans (seemingly). If the content doesn’t sell them, maybe peer pressure will.

    they also have one that’s just as great (or as horrible) for acai-


  3. Chicago Ad Man

    If these placements have nofollow tags, then it won’t impact SEO. If they don’t how is this not paid linking? Which is largely considered “black hat” and Google has increasingly sophisticated algorithms to detect. Probably not advisable for advertisers and I suspect high volume sites wouldn’t allow skipping nofollow tags.