I talk to ad networks regularly and follow that space, and I know these firms insist on running only the highest quality advertisements on the highest quality sites. Once in awhile, though, something slips through the cracks. Sure, we’ve read Ben Edelman’s meticulous reports showing porn ads distributed via spyware served up through ad networks.
Although such ads are considered happy accidents by many who view them — especially those who toil in ad industry jobs — there’s one ad I’ve been seeing a lot of lately that always puts me in a goofy mood.
Perhaps you’ve seen it? Yes, the Bush Olive Garden ad comes in multiple forms, all of which seem to include Dubya’s mug above blinking “Yes” or “No” buttons. The ad links to YourGiftCards.com, a lead generation site that offers free gift certificates to an array of fine eating establishments such as Dunkin Donuts, Burger King and IHOP.
Qualified leads? You be the judge: users simply submit their e-mail and physical addresses and supposedly get a gift certificate in the mail eventually.
Of course, the requisite never-ending spiral of lead-gen offers follows thereafter. You’ve got your free diabetes meter, Discover Platinum Clear Card, Free lessons from that Video Professor guy who always petitions me to try his “product” whenever I’m watching local cable TV, and even the opportunity to become a member of the Official NASCAR Members Club.
From what I can tell, this ad is served up by Websponsors.com, part of Valueclick’s WebClients division. I won’t make any value judgments regarding the lead gen biz, or the efficacy of this particular approach. And I won’t even answer the question about whether we can trust Bush’s judgement.
The real question is, can we trust the judgment of people who eat at The Olive Garden?
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