Once the primary method of achieving higher search engine results placement, hidden links - links which appear as text on a webpage but are invisible because they are the same color as the background - are now used, mostly, by disreputable marketers and are frowned upon by search engines who will punish sites using these links by pushing the site further down the results page. Surprisingly, hidden links have been found on the Financial Times website. Ken McGaffin, while doing some research for a client, found 138 hidden links on the Financial Time website within the first hour of his search.
McGaffin explains why marketers would engage in these shady practices, writing on his blog, "Google will regard a site such as FT.com as a trusted authority and any site that FT.com links to will get a significant boost to its ranking. The site will move towards the top of search engine results, bringing more visitors and more lucrative business as a result."
We don't pretend to know a lot about search engine marketing but we don't have to know much to realize it's practices such as this that undermine the medium, affect consumer trust and make life that much more challenging for marketers who choose to play by the rules. We think it's a shame The Financial Times - and other sites - engage in this clandestine method of money making.
While we knew the website that promoted an undersea train/subway from Paris to New York was a hoax all along, Adrants reader, Bruno points us to a story in LeJournalduNet which reveals the prankster to be a travel site called Voyages-sncf.com. Apparently, a supporting campaign has been launched which, today, revealed the truth behind the hoax and includes online and transit elements.
Following the Superheroes theme, Crispin Porter + Bogusky has created a microsite, called Cyber Heroes, for Earthlink promoting the ISP's scam, scam, virus and spyware blocking services. The site, which represents the three threats with three Cyber Heroes; Stephanie, Don and Rashidi, who each have professional sport-like profiles and can be pit against the threats in several games. The site also offers screensaver downloads, product description areas and a Cyber Gear area where visitors can register to win a Cyber Hero Cape in the form of a towel. Many areas of the microsite point to various areas of the Earthlink website to provide additional details.
With most ISPs falling into the boring, commodity-like category, CP + B has done a good job at least bringing a little fun to the mundane but excruciatingly nagging aspects of spam, scams, spyware and viruses which take the fun out of everyday Internet life.
Some love it. Some call it lame. Join the debate in the Adrants Network
In a direct approach to getting the attention of GM CEO Rick Wagoner, Kidz Magazine has placed a billboard in Detroit with the headline, "Mr. Wagoner, why isn't GM talking to the people who make 60% Of The Family Car Buying DECISION? Go To http://MrWagoner.SincerelyScott.com for an Epiphany. Sincerely Scott." Scot is Scott Smith, publisher of Kidz Magazine, a magazine "written by kids for kids." While Scott cites GM itself will be able to confirm the figure, it's unclear what, exactly, that 60 percent represents. Some would say this is as an odd way to ask an advertiser for money, but we all know kids were born to beg and do hold great influence over their parents.
Dayton Ohio coated and carbonless paper maker NewPage, as part of it's name change promotion from MeadWestvaco to Newpage, has launched The True You, a portfolio collection site where designers can submit work, glean advice from other professionals and enter contests.
Professional advice comes from industry leaders as Linda Cooper Bowen, author of Marketing and the True You, Hank Richardson, who tackles The Ubiquitous Portfolio, and Olivia Fox Cabane, who discusses Networking Basics. Cooper Bowen also offers a Q&A session where graphic designers can ask a question on any marketing issue.
According to the press release, "Current contests include personal makeovers for five lucky designers who can shuck their scruffy wardrobes and plunge into the world of chic to match their snappy new portfolios, and an opportunity for one winner to promote themselves or their clients by designing a truck that will be featured at an upcoming race in the NASCAR truck series.
Who knew paper could be so exciting?
In early April we wrote about Bob's Cube, a promotional microsite for hosting company Hostway. The microsite presented the virtual world of an office cubicle which allowed visitors to click into the cube and explore. It was engaging enough to grab attention for a few minutes. Well, it seems the idea has been stolen by ailing Netscape to promote its browser. Called "The Cubicle," Netscape's microsite is a near identical copy of the Hostway's concept. Hostway's "Bob's Cube" was launched April 1 (oh no, is the whole thing a joke?). Netscape's "The Cubicle" was launched May 27.
Unfortunately for Netscape and fortunately for Hostway, not many people will see "The Cubicle" because it is delivered as a blockable pop up. They call it a "daughter window" to somehow make it sound less nefarious. Not very smart on Netscape's part when they could have simply launched the rip off in a separate, regular window.
UPDATE: Hugh, in comments, rightly points out this cubicle thing has been going on for quite some time.
While we had to fire up dusty old Internet Explorer for it to actually work, IBM, as part of its Rolland Garros sponsorship, is running in interesting Flash expand-o-banner which opens to reveal a customizable tennis player which you can pit against other online players. The scores of the actual tournament are displayed at the lower left of the banner. It was engaging enough to catch out attention which is a rarity. View here. You may have to reload a few times.
That's Hot! Too Hot
Maximizing publicity like Tom Cruise trotting out Katie Holmes, Carl's Jr. reports the website, which hosts its new ad in which Paris Hilton appears washing a Bentley and chomping on Carl's Jr.'s Spicy BBQ Burger in a stringy black swimsuit, crashed for four hours today due to the hormonal onslaught of male eyeballs ogling the soap covered heiress as she has virtual sex with the Bentley.
Commenting on the crash, Carl's Jr. EVP of Marketing Brad Haley said, "It was a mixed blessing. It turned out that Paris was too hot for our servers." well put, Brad, but are you sure you didn't just ask your IT guys to turn off the servers for a while to...oh...create this publicity stunt?
Working with Crispin Porter + Bogusky on its Mantropy Control Center project for Maxim Magazine, J.J. Sedelmaier, co-creator of The Ambiguously Gay Duo with Robert Smigel for Saturday Night Live, has developed three cartoons for Mantropy which feature the Maxim Ranger and aim to help men protect their masculinity.
Riffing on the Metrosexual thing, the three cartoons, "Nowhere Fast," "Threatened Hairitage" and "Walk Like a Man," hope to protect men from partaking in activities thought to maintain one's youth but, in reality, just make a man look stupid.
Taking advantage of the FCC-free Podcast medium, condom maker Durex has made a deal with popular podcast show, Dawn and Drew, a Wisconsin husband and wife podcast team. The deal with the PodcastAlley number 2 ranked podcast involves "unscripted X-rated banter" as reported by Ad Age. Omnicom Group's Fitzgerald & Co. SVP and Chief Media Officer (how's that for a fancy title?) explained approach to the buy to Ad Age, saying, "Nobody wants to get slapped with an FCC fine. ... The thing about condoms is that young adults look at them and are kind of concerned about how they’re going to feel, and they’re a little embarrassed to spend a lot of time in front of the store display. By showing people interacting with the brand makes it seem like something you don’t need to be embarrassed about."
A podcast is an audio file that is automatically downloaded to any MP3 player via subscription. Even though one of the first statements on the Dawn and Drew website (and many other podcast related sites) makes clear podcasts are not only for iPods but for any MP3 players, many, including Ad Age, still classify Podcasts as something you download to your iPod.