What is your opinion on a site like this?

by AFI
40 replies
I came across this site and I was even convinced that it was a site for a news channel. But once you read the article on the site, it sounded too spammy for a news article. So then I tried to click the menu buttons on the site and it just refreshed the page. So I realized it's some internet marketer's page. Ethical or not?

Channel9NewsToday - How To Save In A Recession
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Hlatky
    If you read the text on top of the people in the top right, it clearly points out what they are doing.

    This seems very similar to the one pop up I always see with the stay at home mom who makes $59485939584935 a year in Adsense.

    I don't think it would take to long to figure out exactly what this website was trying to do. Is it ethical? Why wouldn't it be?
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    • Profile picture of the author AFI
      Originally Posted by Mike Hlatky View Post


      I don't think it would take to long to figure out exactly what this website was trying to do. Is it ethical? Why wouldn't it be?
      It's not ethical. Average people who are not internet marketers will think this is really a news page and think it to be credible and will buy anything they're selling. They could sell **** on a stick and people would buy it if they thought it came from a credible source like the news.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mike Hlatky
        Originally Posted by AFI View Post

        It's not ethical. Average people who are not internet marketers will think this is really a news page and think it to be credible and will buy anything they're selling. They could sell **** on a stick and people would buy it if they thought it came from a credible source like the news.
        Well, you also have to realize that the average person is not that bright (in my opinion, at least). Personally, if I were to buy a product, I would research it online. And yes, before I knew what Internet Marketing was, I was able to sift through "review sites" that aren't actually review sites. I realized that all the websites were eerily similar and it looked like their goal was just to sell me the product, which it obviously would.

        If the person was going to buy **** on a stick, I would definitely blame the person doing the purchasing rather than the marketer.
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  • Profile picture of the author LMC
    Well this one in particular doesn't seem to follow FTC guidelines, I couldn't find ONE notice that this page was an advertisement.

    In marketing... the positioning is ingenious, but the use to me is not ethical.
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  • Profile picture of the author aldovacano
    Well this looks like a Wanna be a Google news site, i think is not the ethical at all, but looks like is working for him.
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  • Profile picture of the author flowers4love
    Originally Posted by AFI View Post

    I came across this site and I was even convinced that it was a site for a news channel. But once you read the article on the site, it sounded too spammy for a news article. So then I tried to click the menu buttons on the site and it just refreshed the page. So I realized it's some internet marketer's page. Ethical or not?

    Channel9NewsToday - How To Save In A Recession
    Thank you for starting this thread. I consider any site which contains information which is misleading to be unethical. If a site is selling some product then it should not pose as a news site. This in itself makes me think that the person marketing that product is a scammer and should be avoided.
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  • Profile picture of the author AFI
    I gotta admit it's genius though. You should have seen the banner that got me to this page. This banner probably has a CTR of 30% or something, even *I* clicked on it and I'm a banner designer. It even fooled me into clicking it. Genius advertising.
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  • Profile picture of the author DireStraits
    These sorts of sites have been doing the rounds for some time; I've seen a lot of them over the past year.

    I must admit, some of them were so well done that they initially (and still can, at first glance) caught me out.

    But it's all nonsense. They're not real news sites, they're full of ads, and the comments are faked by the site owner.

    And I think they're highly in breach of FTC guidelines.

    Are they "smart"? Undoubtedly.

    Are they ethical? Not one bit, in my opinion.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    I have seen these everywhere, and they are an evolution of the "flog" (fake blogs) that are pretty popular to this day. I'm sure you've encountered the flogs that try to come across as a blog (with fake comments at the bottom), but are really just trying to sell you something.

    They are by no means ethical, and could get you into legal trouble (not to mention having your CPA networks ban you and refuse to pay for the leads that are generated, if you're using CPA offers to monetize them). I'd stay very far away from them, if I were you!

    EDIT: I just looked at the offers on the blog, and I'm fairly certain they're using CPA offers to monetize it. Definitely not very smart, and this could cause them to get banned by the CPA network they're using.
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    • Profile picture of the author AFI
      Why legal trouble Paulie?

      And don't worry I wasn't planning on making a site like this. I just think it's shady and I don't like shady marketing. I was just wondering if everyone else felt the same way.
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      • Profile picture of the author paulie888
        Originally Posted by AFI View Post

        Why legal trouble Paulie?

        And don't worry I wasn't planning on making a site like this. I just think it's shady and I don't like shady marketing. I was just wondering if everyone else felt the same way.
        Well Jennifer, it could be construed as misrepresentation, since they're trying to pass themselves off as a news organization of some sort. This is what caused the FTC to crack down on the flogs last year (but it's kind of hard to enforce as they sprout up all over the internet like mushrooms, lol). Flogs are basically fake testimonials from fake people, and the site that you showed is basically implying that a (fake) news organization is endorsing some products. (I'm sure "Julie" on the site isn't a real news reporter.)
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  • Profile picture of the author Rsberg
    There are certianly arguements for both sides of the "ethical" fence but IMO I don't like seeing these types of sites.

    As another poster said...if its misleading then to me its unethical!

    IM in general gets enough of a bad name all on its own without sites like this adding to it.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    I don't think anyone will disagree this is unethical, but it is most likely illegal too (fake/deceptive advertising per FTC guidelines), which means you could face legal action and could possibly have your website shut down without prior notice. In addition to that, as I've mentioned above, if you're monetizing the site with CPA offers there could be very serious consequences in store for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Vikram73
    These sorts of sites usually get banned by the good PPC networks and end up showing up on big sites anyway through sub-part PPC networks (or direct media buys).

    In my experience - if someone throws together a sales page and promises a quick solution to a difficult problem (getting out of debt, losing weight, making money) - it will just convert people no matter how bad or fake it looks to me.

    It never ceases to amaze me. Crazy - but true.
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by vikramd View Post

      These sorts of sites usually get banned by the good PPC networks and end up showing up on big sites anyway through sub-part PPC networks (or direct media buys).

      In my experience - if someone throws together a sales page and promises a quick solution to a difficult problem (getting out of debt, losing weight, making money) - it will just convert people no matter how bad or fake it looks to me.

      It never ceases to amaze me. Crazy - but true.
      There's no doubt that it converts. Even Jennifer (a seasoned graphics and banner designer) mentioned above that she was fooled initially.

      However, I think that this site goes against FTC guidelines as it is fake and deceptive (I'm sure the "reporters" on the site are just paid actors). While they may try to evade the law and be able to exist under the radar for a while, the consequences will be very serious if they get caught, in my opinion.
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  • Profile picture of the author Diane S
    Even the 'email' link just refreshes the index. This site is just plain rude, and I hate seeing these sites popping up. I see the banners for them at yahoo news stories a lot. The banners are clearly shown as advertising, but once you get to the site, you are hard pressed to find that word! Sites like these give honest internet marketers a bad name.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    I just discovered something particularly egregious on this site. In the middle column, as you scroll down towards the bottom, there is a "Google Adwords" section which is totally fake! Nothing like that even exists, and I wonder what Google would say if they found out about it...lol.
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    • Profile picture of the author AFI
      Originally Posted by paulie888 View Post

      I just discovered something particularly egregious on this site. In the middle column, as you scroll down towards the bottom, there is a "Google Adwords" section which is totally fake! Nothing like that even exists, and I wonder what Google would say if they found out about it...lol.
      Report them! I'm not sure Google would take one report seriously enough though. It would have to be multiple reports.
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  • Profile picture of the author AFI
    Even the Facebook icons and stuff refresh the page. But I gotta admit it fooled me for a good 30 seconds because I came through to it from a banner on Yahoo. I wouldn't think Yahoo would allow ads to serve for sites like this. I would think it could get THEM in trouble.
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by AFI View Post

      Even the Facebook icons and stuff refresh the page. But I gotta admit it fooled me for a good 30 seconds because I came through to it from a banner on Yahoo. I wouldn't think Yahoo would allow ads to serve for sites like this. I would think it could get THEM in trouble.
      Jennifer, the issue here is that Yahoo sells media buys/banner ads by the millions, and perhaps their staff is overworked and are not able to vet each banner/website individually before approving them. You're right though, it could get them into trouble for allowing the promotion of such blatantly deceptive sites on their ad network!
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  • Profile picture of the author Diane S
    Try closing the web browser tab and you will get two warnings about not taking the free offer. Just reported the site to Google. I have done that only once before.

    It looks like the site needs reporting to Yahoo as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author fastnetprofits
    It looks unethical to me, I imagine the site might soon get banned!

    Will certainly be very effective for a short period of time though!
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by fastnetprofits View Post

      It looks unethical to me, I imagine the site might soon get banned!

      Will certainly be very effective for a short period of time though!
      There'll be many of these sites put up in a "hit and run" fashion, despite being threatened by legal action. I guess there are many people out there who are willing to take the risk, since they could conceivably make a lot of money very quickly with these types of fake sites!
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      • Profile picture of the author DireStraits
        Originally Posted by paulie888 View Post

        There'll be many of these sites put up in a "hit and run" fashion, despite being threatened by legal action. I guess there are many people out there who are willing to take the risk, since they could conceivably make a lot of money very quickly with these types of fake sites!
        Let's just hope, for their sake, that whatever big bucks they make in a hurry aren't exceeded by any fines or consequences they're faced with when they have their arses prosecuted into the ground by the FTC, then.

        At least, that goes for anyone running sites that fall under the FTC's jurisdiction.
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        • Profile picture of the author paulie888
          Originally Posted by DireStraits View Post

          Let's just hope, for their sake, that whatever big bucks they make in a hurry aren't exceeded by any fines or consequences they're faced with when they have their arses prosecuted into the ground by the FTC, then.

          At least, that goes for anyone running sites that fall under the FTC's jurisdiction.
          As I've mentioned, this site is particularly egregious. It is fake and deceptive on so many counts that it's almost hilarious! They think they are perpetrating the perfect con job, but they're also taking a lot of "artistic" liberties that could land them in so much hot water.

          Even the domain itself is deceptive, as they're calling themselves "newschannel9today.com", replete with the stylized "9" favicon in the title which is so similar to my local news website here! I think they're treading on very dangerous ground here, and I don't expect to see them around for very long.

          Paul
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          • Profile picture of the author AFI
            Originally Posted by paulie888 View Post

            replete with the stylized "9" favicon in the title which is so similar to my local news website here! I think they're treading on very dangerous ground here, and I don't expect to see them around for very long.

            Paul
            Yeah!! I noticed that font on the "9" that they used myself and thought they were just genius.

            It is definitely unethical but I have to applaud the conman for a good con.
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            • Profile picture of the author paulie888
              Originally Posted by AFI View Post

              Yeah!! I noticed that font on the "9" that they used myself and thought they were just genius.

              It is definitely unethical but I have to applaud the conman for a good con.
              I know, they're definitely going to great lengths to maintain this illusion! I award this conman with a solid "A" for such superb execution.
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  • Profile picture of the author Titanphil
    I personally wouldn't do this but it works. I try to make money in true honest ways. When I first started SEO a lot of marketing teachers were doing thing like this. I want my income to be long term so I follow the rules. Don't fool people who are putting food on your table.
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  • Profile picture of the author ukbuddy2
    What ever they are doing ethical or not it obviously gets into peoples inbox or browsers!!

    not that i am condoning deception at all
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by ukbuddy2 View Post

      What ever they are doing ethical or not it obviously gets into peoples inbox or browsers!!

      not that i am condoning deception at all
      No one's denying that, but it's also almost certain that this is illegal as well. Being unethical is one thing, but when it is downright illegal you're probably going to run into a lot of issues, like getting your site shut down for example!
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  • Profile picture of the author tandren544
    Cheesy. Aren't these usually popups?
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  • Profile picture of the author Eager2SEO
    One guru I listened to said they convert like wildfire. If you write "the site is for entertainment purposes" you are off the hook.

    They work well with penny auctions.
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by Eager2SEO View Post

      One guru I listened to said they convert like wildfire. If you write "the site is for entertainment purposes" you are off the hook.

      They work well with penny auctions.
      Unfortunately, this is nowhere to be seen on this site, and I've not seen such disclaimers on the majority of these types of fake sites. Using a disclaimer like what you've mentioned may not even hold up in court unless you place it in a prominent location on your website in large, legible type where it'd be nearly impossible to miss.
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      • I really like it actually. Took me a few seconds before I realized what it was. Wonderful to see serious businesses in action who actually knows what they are doing. Just my opinion :p
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        • Profile picture of the author paulie888
          Originally Posted by Ripipip View Post

          I really like it actually. Took me a few seconds before I realized what it was. Wonderful to see serious businesses in action who actually knows what they are doing. Just my opinion :p
          I have no doubt that the conversions are wonderful, but then again, it might not be so wonderful when you're facing huge fines or jail time for running a site like this.
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          • Originally Posted by paulie888 View Post

            I have no doubt that the conversions are wonderful, but then again, it might not be so wonderful when you're facing huge fines or jail time for running a site like this.
            Is it really illegal? I have like zero knowledge of American culture. Is it a real newspaper?

            I just thought it was a page that has copied the style of a newspaper site and then made up a name that sounds like a news paper.
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            • Profile picture of the author paulie888
              Originally Posted by Ripipip View Post

              Is it really illegal? I have like zero knowledge of American culture. Is it a real newspaper?

              I just thought it was a page that has copied the style of a newspaper site and then made up a name that sounds like a news paper.
              Yes, the general consensus here is that this is illegal. This is not a real newspaper, but it's trying to pass itself off as the real thing.

              If you look at the domain name and also the fact that there are "fake" reporters there (with not a disclaimer to be seen anywhere), it's trying really hard to look like a real newspaper.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeLiving
    Every time I come across one of these sites I usually can see whats going on a mile away. But the first time I got caught off guard it reminded me of a magazine I was reading one day, where the advertisement looked just like another page in the mag. It wasn't until I was finished reading that I figured out I was reading an advertisement.

    These things work, but I think the more people see them the less effect they have.
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