Advertising promising miracles without any effort brings in considerable money to some news sites. Despite this fact, sites had better avoid it like the plague.
Meet John. He works in a car plant. Though he’s a simple man, he is responsible, hard-working, and would do anything for his family. He doesn’t have free time to spare, so he exercises little, eats in a hurry, and doesn’t have a particularly healthy diet. That’s one of the reasons why John is obese, which causes him further health issues.
Then, one day, John’s colleague and friend, Jim, recommends some miraculous slimming pills to him.
Within only two hours, he will lose an incredible 5 pounds, and within two months, he’ll lose 45 pounds. Sure, the pills are expensive, but they just happen to be on special offer right now—and after all, if it’s expensive, it must be good!
So, John buys the pills. A few weeks later, he realizes that they didn’t do the trick and that he’s wasted his hard-earned cash. The pills were false advertising, Jim’s recommendations were fake, and Jim got a kickback from the pill vendor for recommending them.
John isn’t on speaking terms with Jim anymore. He feels cheated and betrayed by his once close and trusted friend who exploited his Achilles Heel for his own profit.
Building relationships doesn’t rhyme with deceptive ads
The most important thing for media is direct traffic. That is, visitors who type the web address directly into the address field in the browser. Loyal users typically see more ads, have the best conversion rate, and might recommend the website to their family and friends.
This kind of traffic doesn’t cost money but is the most precious to grow. Drawing in a loyal visitor, who, in the boundless ocean of information and possibilities on the internet, is attracted directly to your website, is the result of a long-term effort based on relevant content and brand awareness.
If, through online media, you seek to build a strong relationship with your visitors and want them to return to your website regularly, you shouldn’t test their intelligence and deceive them. Your users assume that the information published on your website is truthful and verified by you. This is what they expect from the content as well as from the ads.
Because of money.
Promoted products give hope to the desperate and the lazy. Or to those who don’t know that there are no shortcuts to a healthy lifestyle, learning, or honest work. Manufacturing these products is about as expensive as making sawdust, and all the while they are sold for tens or hundreds of euros—but obviously at “50% off and only today, so buy now!” This creates a huge profit margin, much of which is invested into more false advertising at the expense of fair ads.
That’s the kind of advertising that is displayed to visitors. These visitors intuitively trust that the medium has approved the advert because, naturally, it wouldn’t promote something that doesn’t work or make sense, right? How will the feelings of these visitors change once they have tested the product fit? And how will this betrayal of trust impact the relationship between the media site and their users?
Thanks, but no thanks
Publishers all over the world have to deal with false advertising. “Every publisher I know hates the companies but loves the checks they send,” says the respected American journalist Jeff Jarvis.
The impact on the reputation of publishers is long-term and difficult to measure. Sales operate in short-term, monthly or quarterly cycles, and it rarely happens that this kind of advertising isn’t accepted.
Yet, it’s inevitable that media representatives will begin to look past the tip of their noses and start rejecting advertising that jeopardizes their credibility and harms their business. After all, we all want the internet business to work well for years to come.
Filip Kuna, Country Manager, Slovakia.