Keep your eye on the quality ad impression
These website traffic driving tricks are offered in the spirit of shining a little light and transparency on a few of the black hat techniques that some publishers deploy which hurt the online ad industry as a whole.
Publishers: Pretty please do NOT take this as a play book of what to do.
B2B marketers: Be aware of some of these methods and don’t be afraid to ask some of the critical questions below.
Disclaimer: No specific site is referenced here – this happens across the web.
Big Funnel Strategy
An editor’s day at one of these pubs starts with going on Google Trends or Twitter trending topics and then spitting out a quick article around one of the top five trending terms.
It’s actually kind of a fun game. Today could be “Anthony Weiner cell phone pics and implications for corporate BYOD policy” or “Bezos buys Washington Post; analogies for Enterprise IT”.
If you can’t figure out a way to artfully weave one of these trending topics into a story, you can always fall back on a title referencing an old standby like Obama, Justin Bieber, Apple, Google Glass, etc. to get a massive amount of junk eyeballs.
This publisher strategy works best if you have a brand name property that won’t be questioned on a buy.
For advertisers, these are great examples to bring up at negotiation time to either get assurances that you will only be adjacent to editorially relevant articles to ensure reaching your actual target, or go into it realizing there will be a lot of waste and use it as leverage for a discounted CPM.
Mullet Strategy (business in the front, party in the rear)
The Mullet Strategy coined coined by Buzzfeed is similar where there is a professional looking front page that advertisers can identify with but there is a “party” in the back in the form of user generated content, messageboards, and other unqualified or irrelevant traffic.
This is probably the most insidious of all as there are entire companies and niche industries built around putting up a shiny storefront web page, slick video, or other forms of content and then using various means (cheap cpc, networks, referral spam, etc.) to drive page views and make a profit off the difference in CPMs between what the advertiser is paying and the cost of visitors.
Web traffic driving techniques like these drive a massive amount of unqualified visits that can be monetized through ads. Unfortunately it brings down the real ROI of online marketing programs for certain unsuspecting (or blissfully ignorant) advertisers and agencies.