DM CONFIDENTIAL — Some what out of necessity, the fake blogs have started to grow-up.
While still a confusing mess, two types of players seem strongest – those attempting to buy on slightly more premium inventory, i.e. non-self service, and the duck and weave arb boxers. The latter continues to find ways to get their sites on Google and Facebook even if temporarily. The second type never goes away, but it also doesn’t ever truly evolve. Those doing it seem content striking fast, hard, and below the belt if need be, all while living with great uncertainty.
This group can make a good living, but especially in more difficult times, i.e. where they must fight strong headwinds for inventory, they won’t make a living that could sustain a business with 5 to 30 people. The first group on the other hand shares much in common with the second in that they operate fast, can turn their operations around in a heartbeat and look to find ways to grab as much inventory as possible. The biggest difference comes in their approach. They tend to take a few extra steps, include extra disclosures, and while their sites look almost as aggressive, you can tell that just maybe they have had some professional legal counsel review the pages before going live.
Speaking of review, marketers have done a pretty bang-up job of making sure that the major traffic sources don’t want to touch flogs directly. Never one to back down from a challenge, both types of marketers from the above have looked for a new opportunity. The most promising candidate thus far more than falls into the “What’s old is new” camp. Much like a car manufacturer that resurrects an old brand name and creates a car that, while a modern interpretation, left nothing to chance in terms of simply updating a known thing, so too have current marketers with one of the original forms of advertorial – the review site.
You might not recall any top of mind, but with review sites, you know them as soon as you see them. Just as the flogs tend to have tell-tale clues, so too do these from the sequential listing of the products to the star rating systems. The two we will show here are interesting, because they combine elements of the flog with the more traditional and typically boring review site. And now, here is our review of the top two review sites we saw (this week at least):
One of the more common trends among review sites is the negative title approach. Instead of playing up the fact that they have gathered the Top 3, 5, 10, etc. products, they play to user’s fears with copy that says something to the effect of, “Don’t try any acai products until you read this review first.”
Not surprisingly, as we’ve seen with the flogs, the newer breed of review sites makes sure to leverage fuzzy endorsement and media mentions. Cleverly, instead of saying just “As Seen On,” the media mentions start with “Acai Berry seen on” or “Acai seen on.”
The copy has a ways to go before approaching some sense of verisimilitude. Phrases include,”Our review team spent 6 months testing 20 different Acai products,” and “Many of our participants lost 15 lbs in just a few days, pretty incredible.” Some strong claims that don’t have the facts to back it up.
This one has a nice hybrid approach, where after listing the products they reviewed, they take a trick learned from the flogs and find a way to promote a colon cleanse as well. Leveraging the research angle (which has a similar first person authority that the flogs provide), they then list links to both along with lines such as, “For The Highest Possible Results, Just Order Risk Free Trials of BOTH of These Products! The Results Will Be Amazing!”
Even though Acai hasn’t quite run its course, it’s good to know that another super-compound lies waiting to fill in when that does occur. According to the rumor mill surrounding this particular person’s daily spend, Acai’s days may be numbered. There are a few things that make this particular page special, but one that you can’t see – the ad. It does a killer job of looking as though it promotes a page/product endored by Dr. Oz.
The site itself contains some impressive (for flog/review site standards) disclaimers. It’s only impressive in that it took this long before someone made a page that contained all the information a person needed, including price and refund information. It’s not obvious, but you don’t have to go hunting across multiple sites to find it. This site’s success might pave the way for others to start with more compliant sites from the get go.
There is also the use of video, which is a nice touch. I’d suspect that very few actually watch it, but having the videos probably improves conversions because it makes people more comfortable with what the site promotes. It gives them an excuse to bypass the video.
This one too manages to promote additional products, not just the three that it lists as part of the review. It too promotes a double trial, the now famous two step approach, but it focuses on wrinkle reduction rather than weightloss. Pretty smart given that people, namely media companies, haven’t gone as harsh against skin care.
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