Well the people who say that may be dead wrong......
True the 'golden days' of spinning articles and giving your websites thousands of back-links are over.... but the days of traffic-generation and article syndication are not.
Think about it. There are article directories that get thousands of visitors on a monthly basis.
There is no rule that says that article directories should only be used to add 'link-juice' to your websites for SEO purposes.
Article directories can be used to send visitors to your website. Now don't get me wrong... most articles posted to article directories won't give you hoards of traffic on their own, but note that there are thousands of article directories all over the internet.
There are websites that list the top article directory sites that you can use.
Most of the article directories automatically syndicate to other article directories, vastly increasing the amount of exposure that you get.
Imagine if each article you posted got 2 views, and you posted on 50+ article directories, and about 5 of them syndicated to 5 other article directories. That's 150 people who you can promote your website to.
Article directories can be a powerful tool to drive traffic to your website. If you take advantage of them you can run circles around your competition who try to get traffic through Google exploitation.