The pretentiousness of affiliate greed

Just an example here of how the mad rush to monetize the internet infects almost every website you visit. Today, Bon Appétit is the teacher in the moment.

I found a lovely recipe for “Shockingly Easy No-Knead Focaccia.” It does look good, and I hope I can find the time to try it.

There’s a section about “What You’ll Need,” with the ever-present disclaimer:

All products featured on Bon Appétit are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through the retail links below, we earn an affiliate commission.

So let’s see what we’ll need to make this recipe:

All of these products, lovingly chosen by Bon Appétit’s editors, were selected not for utility but to generate the maximum possible revenue for the website’s owners. I mention this because in order to purchase every one of these items at the listed links (with the exception of the Bon Appétit Market which is currently 404), you would need to shell out $314.00… and Bon Appétit would earn a commission on all of those sales.

I pity the poor wights who come to this page and think they need to buy all of these utensils before they can make the recipe; almost every item on this list could be had at Dollar Tree for $1.25 each (you’d have to go to Walmart or somewhere similar for a 1-quart saucepan for $8.97 instead of $155.00 at Amazon), and the digital scale isn’t even used in the recipe unless you’d rather measure 625 grams of flour instead of 5 cups.

The Internet is an amazing source of information, but overshadowing everything is the commercialization of any possible space. I remember one of the earliest and cleverest examples of turning the Internet into a cash cow, the “Million Dollar Homepage.”

Every pixel on this page sold out, meaning whoever came up with this idea made off with a cool million. It’s interesting to go back in time and revisit the purchasers (many of which are now defunct), and to wonder if that investment in an odd form of advertising ever converted into sales… but I doubt it.

Advertising in general is expensive and largely ineffective; the best websites hit around an 11% conversion rate, but the average landing page conversion rate is 2.35%. That means that 97% of the money a company spends on internet advertising or a web presence goes directly into the sewer. The ones who make that money are the advertising providers.

The monetization of everything on the Internet seems to be unavoidable, but from where I sit, it’s exhausting.

The Old Wolf has Spoken.

How can you tell when an advertiser is lying?

Answer: His lips are moving.

Let’s look at this ad that appeared on my Facebook feed (Android). The first one seems to indicate that US comsumers are urged to stop using WiFi after some sort of revelation by Donald Trump.

But click on the ad (which I never do, unless I’m following some sort of jiggery-pokery down the rabbit hole) and you end up with an advertorial (read: advertising thinly disguised to look like a news article) for YesBackup, a cloud backup service.

If you’re confident in your product’s abilities, Mr. or Ms. CEO, you shouldn’t resort to outright lies, trickery, and deception to get customers. Even the use of Advertorials (sometimes called “farticles” or “fake articles”) alone is enough to make your integrity suspect. Now this may be the the work of an affiliate marketer, that doesn’t really excuse the company – they are, after all, responsible for all of their advertising whether in-house or contracted out.

The takeaway: Be very careful clicking “sponsored ads” – the vast majority of them are going to be deceptive at best and outright scams at worst.

The Old Wolf has spoken.