Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Look But Don't Touch, I Mean Click


I never click on them but these ads bother me a little. They look up the IP address your are connected from and insert the name of a city you are in or nearby to make it look like someone near you lost a bunch of weight or made a ton of money presumably to give you the idea that maybe you could do the same. Clicking on the ad probably generates some income for the site, in this case The State newspaper in South Carolina. They're not unique to that site nor are they just on newspaper sites.

I wonder if this would qualify as an FTC complaint. After all, if the name of the city is changed based on where you are accessing the site from and the ad continues to make the same claim, shouldn't that be false advertising? I realize that newspapers are suffering from declining print subscriptions, but is this an ethical way to make up for it?

If you are not in the Spokane area, I would appreciate if you would go to The State newspaper and see for yourself what the ads say. One will be center right and the other will be bottom left on the page. (I realize South Carolina has enough troubles already. It's not like I have it in for the paper or the state. The reason I'm picking on this site is because they have two of those type of ads.)

3 comments:

John Speare said...

I VPN'd into my work network -- by connecting to a RAS server in Reno. I expected to see Reno advertising. But interestingly, after refreshing the State homepage 5 or 6 times, all of the ads were location-agnostic. Which doesn't disprove your theory. My guess is that my http headers contain headers from both my Spokane connection and the gateway in Reno, and maybe others (my corp network spread across the NW, so who know where my requests originate from). If the ad software can't make a pretty good guess, then perhaps it just throws up location-agnostic ads? Or maybe it was just a fluke? Maybe the Spokane woman really did have whiter teeth and loose more weight. You could too Hank!

Jacque Hendrix said...

I teather via my BlackBerry and can get stuff from Reno, Los Angeles, and most often (and interestingly) Dubai.

Hank said...

Thanks, guys. Maybe I do want to use acai berries...