More and more, I'm finding it increasingly unbelievable when I come across companies that use deceptive web marketing practices in an effort to pull-in audience or drive their demand generation programs.
For clarification, here's an example of what I mean. If you go to Monster.com -- when you log-in, change a record, or perform virtually any activity -- once you click the "okay" button to submit the transaction, the next page you are taken to is an advertisement -- a pre-populated submission form that you might think is just a review of your data (if you're in a hurry). The default choice (the big button) submits your information to the advertiser. You have to actively select the "No Thanks" button each time. What's more, if you're updating your account, you may have to go through this screen several times.
Beyond the shear frustration of the interruption, the real problem with this type of advertising is the profile of who winds up in the lead pool. Do you really want a list of people who were deceived into signing up? What kind of loyalty can you build when your first interaction is deceptive? This is also the reason why I'm usually opposed to purchasing one of those "lead lists" -- one of those "I never thought of that" moments that frequently come up when the sales guy decides to try on a marketing hat.
On the reverse side of this topic is the discussion that I frequently have surrounding Google Adwords and Search Engine Marketing programs. One common thread I hear is "we keep getting all of these leads, but they're not any good." With several Adwords programs that I've run, the volume of inquiries that sales received rose dramatically, but because the products were picking up a small segment of a consumer market, many of the inquiries had high customer service requirements with low potential unit volume (one or two units). But it's important to remember that with Adwords, these people looked for the product, clicked on the ad, went to the site and read enough to bridge the gap and contact the company. Contrast that with someone who was tricked into signing up. These prospects may not have been an ideal fit for the product that sales was offering, but they had already bridged one major gap -- they were actually interested in the product.
Deception Marketing - Making it Go Away
For me, the aggravation of having to navigate deceptive or interruption marketing programs isn't just the shuck-and-dodge that you have to do to avoid getting lumped in -- particularly since you didn't want the product in the first place -- it's that there isn't a very good way to penalize the companies that do this type of marketing. If you don't like it, you just don't show up in their pool of prospects.
Imagine something that cataloged and scored this type of marketing. Maybe it might look like Scoville units, the system that they use to measure how spicy peppers are. Instead of being more spicy, marketing programs could be measured by degrees or units of Spam. After all, interruption marketing is basically Spam. And while spammers could probably care less, if you were a reputable organization, would you really want to have a high Spam score?
Unfortunately, I don't know of anything like this system. So, until then, my only choice is to call these programs out when I find them and they stand out in some way.