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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador
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    Thoughts on "negative" advertising?
    This is something I've wanted to ask about for a while, and I've never seen it discussed here. Sorry if I was just unable to find it.

    By negative advertising, I mean getting attention for your website by upsetting a certain group of people. That sounds really bad, so I'll explain with an example.

    This example is fictional and may not be completely realistic.

    Lets say you have a website that allows people to buy meat online and have it shipped to the privacy of their own home. You make it simple and easy for these people to get meat.

    On your website, you include an article that describes the benefits of eating meat over being a vegan and not eating meat. Maybe you could include some things you know that could upset more "radical" vegans, but for the normal public it wouldn't upset them.

    Now, having this article, you go find a radical vegan community online or blog, and post a link to your article, claiming how bad it is and how it is wrong this person makes it easy for people to get meat without leaving their home!!!

    I'm thinking in this situation, you would seem more like one of the believers, and not a spammer. Unlike if you had posted your link to a meat eater's community.

    Anyone think this could provide any benefit?

    Some positives I can see:
    1) You could increase traffic, and can't traffic help with PR?
    2) Or, with increased traffic numbers you could use that number to try and get companies to pay to run ads.
    3) If the "backlash" against your website takes off, you would get a lot of links to your website, with people talking about how bad it is, but that could help SEO I think?
    4) If the "backlash" becomes big enough and spreads, you could get non-vegans curious what the fuss is about, and they may buy something.
    5) If the "backlash" really goes well, maybe your website could be mentioned on a vegan TV show (local or national) which could really bring in traffic. Some to see what the fuss is, others who would come to just be all grrr!

    Some negatives I can see:
    1) Your inbox could be filled with bad emails.
    2) Increased traffic will increase hosting costs and may not result in any increase in income.
    3) If someone is "radical" enough, they could try to hack the website or take it down.

    Hmm.. so what do you more experienced people think? Would this be seen as blackhat and make me a bad guy, or would it be smart advertising? Would the risk be too great for the rewards?

    This also reminds me of that dating website that claims to be just for married people to cheat. They put up a billboard, and a lot of people were all "Zomg! How awful!" and it got on National TV, and got their name out there. I'd call that smart.. but my example is a bit different.

    Thanks for any and all replies.

  2. #2
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    They say there is no such thing as bad advertising, I however beg to differ!!!

    Ostracizing any group just for a few bucks will never be worth it. Take the high road, and you'll always sleep well and come out on top. Instead of negative, use intriguing marketing - make people think and then align with your stance and you'll build awreness, loyalty and eventually go viral.

    Here's a good real world example ... Sony hired people in NYC to pose as tourists and asked people to take pics of them, the NYers agreed and then asked for the camera, the tourist handed them a cell phone (yeah this is when they first came out) and sure enough the NYer was amazed at a cell phone that took a pic, they asked where they got them, who made them etc ... sure enough SonyEricson cellphones in NY for the quarter were up 4000% --- that is what I call intriguing marketing, no one got hurt, a product was launched and went viral. And look now, does any cellphone not have a camera?

    *Note, there was some fallout towards Sony after it got out that they planted these tourists, but it went away very quickly as people were amazed at the new technology.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  3. #3
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardaka
    Some negatives I can see:
    1) Your inbox could be filled with bad emails.
    2) Increased traffic will increase hosting costs and may not result in any increase in income.
    3) If someone is "radical" enough, they could try to hack the website or take it down.
    4. You end up with a bunch of unwanted untargeted traffic that may do you no good.
    5. You end up giving negative exposure to the merchant(s) you represent.
    6. If you get caught, outted as the one who posted on the vegan board, you ruin your reputation.


    Bad publicity might work for rock stars or controversial movies, but I don't see how it could work for someone running an affiliate website. Even if you had a vegan section and a meat section, and offered products for vegans, you're asking them to patronize a site that offended them in the first place.

  4. #4
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    Haiko de Poel, Jr. -> That was smart by Sony and definitely better than going negative.

    Mack -> Oh, also some good points to add. Knew I hadn't thought of everything.

    Thank you both for the feedback. Definitely think I'll nix any ideas that could involve negative advertising now. I do want to build a brand or try too, and certainly this course is bad especially for that, so I'll stick to the non-negative ideas in my head.

  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Just taking that specific example, let me tell you where I would draw the line. If you had a site expousing the benefits of eating meat and a vegan group attacked you (bringing negative publicity), I think some of that publicity would be a positive (from those who read about it but like meat). If, on the other hand, you sought out vegan forums and stirred up the hornets nest there (seeking out the negative publicity), that's just plain SPAM. It may be effective, but it's NOT ethical.
    Michael Coley
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  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Always gotta judge whether the end justifies the action. Hopefully most people will take the time to at least answer that honestly.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
    to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there
    isn't and die to find out there is.

  7. #7
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    MichaelColey, yeah.. the later in the example I would want to avoid then, I'd rather be ethical.

    visitourmall, true.

  8. #8
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Controversial = Good
    Negative = Bad

    A well written article about a controversial topic that covers interesting points on both sides of a topic is a much better approach than a negative article that some may see as bashing a particular position. Just take a look at some of the posts here on ABW and the amount of passion that they create.

    If you form the title of the article as a question, "Is _______ better than ______?" you've opened the door for opinions. If the topic is controversial enough it could generate quite a bit of interest.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  9. #9
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    Yeah, rematt, I was thinking more along those lines, but then going out to get attention for it on your own. I see doing that now would be bad.

  10. #10
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardaka
    Yeah, rematt, I was thinking more along those lines, but then going out to get attention for it on your own. I see doing that now would be bad.
    I've often wondered how many people digg their own articles.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  11. #11
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    I would have thought most everyone does? If they use Digg.

    What I speak of is different and would seem to be a lot worse.

  12. #12
    Visual Artist & ABW Ambassador lostdeviant's Avatar
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    if you do that then who will save your soul?

    How much $ is your integrity worth?

  13. #13
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    Controversy is a tried and true method for attracting interest and links (Do a search for Jason Calacanis and SEO)

    You don't need to be negative, dishonest or even unethical to stimulate interest and emotional reactions.

    Controversy can be as simple as identifying something that goes against conventional wisdom. For example, I've written blog posts with these titles:

    - Driving a Hummer is more carbon efficient than taking a flight: Somewhat controversial because it juxtaposes a villain (the Hummer), against an activity that many of us don't think twice about (air travel). It generated a bunch of interest in the green community.
    - The Secret list of Sites banned by Digg: At the time, editorial banning of sites was a taboo topic on Digg. Although the post was buried at Digg, it generated tons of interest.

    There is an ethical line that IMHO should not be crossed: always be honest, don't conduct personal attacks, etc.

    I agree with Michael. Something doesn't feel right about seeking the forums out and intentionally baiting people.

  14. #14
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    There is an ethical line that IMHO should not be crossed: always be honest, don't conduct personal attacks, etc.

    I agree with Michael. Something doesn't feel right about seeking the forums out and intentionally baiting people.
    Yeah, not sure I was clear, but if I did this, I would be honest and not personally attacking, etc. The second part, is what I was more curious about, and I am seeing everyone is agreeing with my feelings that it could have been bad to do.

    I think a better example may have been, if you wrote an article pointing out the reasons why President Bush is the worst Prsident ever. You're stating your opinion honestly, and aren't personally attacking anyone (say you stay on his actions, no name calling), I wouldn't consider that bad to do. It would be going over a line in everyone's opinion, if you went to GOP websites to stir up the controversy yourself, yes?

  15. #15
    Yup, Sure ... now let me check ... Cagles Mill's Avatar
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    This whole discussion reminds me of the Geico Caveman commercials. The commercials would be politically incorrect if they said "so easy such-and-such racial/ethnicl group could do it". The only reason the commercials are not politically incorrect is because cavemen do not exist. Then they give it an added twist by pretending that the slurred racial group (cavemen) do in fact exist.

    The commercials are negative in that they "insult" cavemen. Personally, I think the commercials are brilliant.

    P.S. However, making a TV show around it is going a bit overboard.
    Rick M.
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