Potpourri

by , Jul 1, 2004, 12:00 AM
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TODAY'S COLUMN WILL BE A BIT OF A POTPOURRI as we jump around to a number of different topics I've found interesting over the past week or so.

The first topic concerns the spate of acquisitions and consolidations that have been going on in the email world of late: first, direct mail and email list manager and broker Edith Roman was purchased by InfoUSA. Included in the sale was E-post Direct, which specializes in B2B email lists. On the heels of that, Advertising.com announced it was acquired by America Online and then yesterday Netcreations was scooped up by Return Path. It seems everyone is sniffing around the Email industry these days. In this case, I think that this an example of companies with vision that are seeing beyond the current bad press and recognizing that not only is email marketing not going away, it is really the future of marketing. Smart companies always take advantage of times of confusion to pick up bargains, just like Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life."

Typical of today's press was the coverage in the New York Times. Regarding the sale of Advertising.com, the Times focused almost exclusively (and in a very negative light) on the Email aspect the Advertising.com's business when discussing the sale to AOL, while their ad serving and delivery service was not mentioned at all. Why this is interesting is that, at least from the outside looking in, the bulk of Advertising.com's revenue seems to come from their model of buying unused ad space on the CPM cheap and selling it on a CPA basis. Email, while certainly part of their bottom-line revenue, does not seem to be a big part of their pitch, at least in my discussions with them. And while I have always found Advertising.com to be one of the good guys, they were lumped in with the worst of the spammers in the coverage. To my mind, it seemed unfair.

Topic 2: I've been reporting on a company calling itself American Loan Rate, also Apex Concepts that came out of nowhere last month and started sending 90 emails a day to one of our CETS addresses only to disappear completely a few weeks ago. But just like Whack a Mole, another contender has outdone them. A list known as BizOpp Finders, aka On Pace Marketing (Onpacmkg.com) has gone from sending a few emails a week to more than 150 emails a day! They have also developed a very unique refer URL system. While it does not occur with all of their emails, they do promote a company called Tradewind Products that normally takes you to their Tradwind's YouCanSave.com e-commerce site.

Lately though, Tradewind has been sending emails promoting a "6 Mega Digital Camera" for $299.00. But instead of clicking through to the offer to buy the camera, clicking on the offer link sends you to a random URL. And every time you click on the link, you go to a different URL! I've just clicked five times on the same ad and I went to: Serenitynow.com, CarsAmerica.com, USA Platinum Plus, Fix My Credit Now.biz, and Increase Your Health.com. I'm sure that if I clicked another 10 times, I'd get 10 more sites. All of the links are referred by Azoogle and none of the destination pages have any mention about the digital camera for sale.

Quite frankly, I'm completely puzzled by this. If I was just trying to get people to click through to the ad, I'd offer the camera for $30 instead of $300. But maybe that is reverse psychology: it must be real if it is priced that high.

But from an advertisers standpoint, I am perplexed. Not only is this not a qualified lead, it is a lead from someone who thought he was buying something completely different. The only thing that I can conceive of is that this is just a scheme to rack up clicks on a CPC deal. Sounds like a very bad deal for the advertiser who is picking up the tab for what is essentially a wrong number. Imagine calling the 800 number for a late-night infomercial for a Tony Robbins tape only to be randomly sent to an offer for a Chia Head instead. Bizarre!

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