Unfortunately, those guys did everyone a disservice because they told everyone to bank on the "phrase match" results in their keyword research instead of exact match. It took me two years to figure that out on my own...and by that time I'd wasted a lot of time on junk sites.
Anyway...on this airsoft site I was soon trying to figure out what I could do to get backlinks. I ended up doing article blasts with tools like Article Marketer, blog blasts with Article Marketing Automation, and massive bookmarking efforts with Bookmarking demon.
I did end up taking the #1 spot for this non-competitive term, but the income was so low because the true search volume was so low that it was a joke. So I let the site slide.
Went back today and it seems that all of those links I've built have been accounted for. MS is showing 21,527 in Rank Tracker. The sad thing is that the site is only PR2.
It just reinforces in my mind that mass-link building is really just fluff that serves two major purposes:
a) Mix Things Up: keeping a vividly diverse link profile can mask your primarily linking methods from both google and others who might want to be finding the "power link" spots that you may have come across and want to keep to yourself.
b) Validation - it would seem that getting links on a consistent basis is a good thing for the "natural" link building pattern Big G is looking for.
Using my own method for hunting down high-pr blog comment backlinks (I'm talking about where the actual page the link is found on is rated at PR6+, not the root domain) I've been able to jack up a new domain to PR4 in under 14 days. The speed of the rank climb of the site in these situations is significantly faster than when I built primairly mass links.
My thoughts are that the factor responsible for rank boosts from mass link building is the small number of "power links" you glean from those types of blasts, not the collective volume of the PR0 links themselves which contribute nearly zero link juice to your site. This being the case, I still use mass-link buliding tools to keep things mixed up, but I rely on power-linking to get real results.