Checklist of Shady Digital Marketing Tactics

April 13, 2021

I think the author of “The Problem With Digital Marketing” wanted to make a positive contribution to the art and science of paying to get attention. The write up identifies four categories of marketing wizards which may cast a shadow over the well intentioned efforts of companies desperate for revenue.

The four buckets of bad things are:

  1. Gunning for a quick payoff
  2. Thinking about money now
  3. Shady search engine optimization methods
  4. Unprofessional behavior or what I call MBA ethical practices.

These four groups of activities are interesting for three reasons. First, the mixture of big things like the lack of an ethical command center and tiny thinks like using Dark Patterns to snooker a Web site visitor into spending money when the user thought he/she was NOT making a purchase are jarring.

The lack of the ethics thing opens the door to many activities not included in the three other buckets; for example, apps which are designed to snag a user’s financial information or the use of email to lure the recipient into divulging access credentials.

Items one and two are essentially the fabric of anyone who has bills to pay, a habit to feed, or a keen desire to ride to the bank in a new Bronco with an M1 MacBook under his/her arm.

Item three is actually the focal point of the write up. If an entity is not in the Google and easily findable by those with a limited vocabulary, that entity does not exist. The same need for findability applies to tweet things, Facebook craziness, and even the hopelessly weird Microsoft LinkedIn.

Distorting relevance, using assorted tricks like buying backlinks from clueless Web site owners, and dabbling in the sale of endorsements from YouTube influencers are probably not helpful to someone looking for an objective results list in response to a query.

So what do I make of this write up?

First, it makes clear that SEO is the way to go.

Second, the use of Dark Patterns or closely allied methods work and often work quite well.

Third, payoffs come when ethics are kicked into the trash surrounding the youth soccer field and email (phishing), apps (vectors of malware), and rhetorical tricks are used. The problem with digital content is a combination of tricks and bad content.

What works is buying Google online ads or becoming famous on YouTube or TikTok. Twitter is a minnow compared to the Google thing.

Stephen E Arnold, April 12, 2021


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