Friday, November 19, 2004

Content Hypertext Spam

*****

Well, I thought that "Comment Spam" was the worst thing that ever happened to blogs and interactive functions of web sites.

Boy, was I wrong. There's something worse.

I call it "Content Hypertext Spam." Others refer to it as IntelliTXT, from Vibrant Media, the provider company that offers this "product" to dumb webmasters.

You know I never attack a company or a product. But this time, I'm making an exception, though I'm going to concentrate on the concept, more than the supplier.

What is "Content Hypertext Spam"?

Let's say you're at some web site.

You skimmed, skipped, and scanned until you found an item of interest, an article on a topic of concern to you personally or professionally.

You start reading this article.

You enjoy it. You're learning some valuable facts.

You see a blue, underlined word or phrase in the text.

You're no dummy.

You know that text is clickable/selectable.

You click/select it, hoping to be taken to another online resource that will explain in more detail some aspect of the topic discussed in the article.

WRONG.

You just navigated to a web site that wants to sell you something.

Some product that is probably totally unrelated to the topic or issue discussed in the article.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you to:

CONTENT HYPERTEXT SPAM.

Every time an unsuspecting user clicks on/selects such a deceptive link, the web site owner/webmaster gets some money from the advertiser.

HOVER STATE WARNING: You will know it's Content Hypertext Spam, prior to clicking on/selecting the link, because a box will pop up, like a tool tip, when you hover your cursor over the text. The box will contain a headline like "SPONSORED LINK", a paragraph of descriptive text, and a URL (web address) to click on/select.

What you thought was a legitimate hypertext link, was actually a Hidden Advertisement.

This is Spam...hidden in Content...and disguised as a Hypertext Link.

Content Hypertext Spam goes far beyond simple Comment Spam.

To be bothered or led astray by Comment Spam, you have to read an article, then activate "Read Comments" (navigate to comment posting page of web site), then read the Comment Spam, then stupidly click on/select the spammy, possibly dangerous URL contained within the (usually irrelevant) comment.

With Content Hypertext Spam, all you have to do to be annoyed or misled by this spam is innocently read an article and click on/select a linkable bit of text.

Content Hypertext Spam by IntelliTXT is "Spam" because it is:

1. unsolicited advertising

2. commercial in nature

3. disruptive of content path

4. irrelevant to topic of article

5. irrelevant to purpose of online resource

6. deceptive (pretends to be relevant content, but is really an ad)

7. destination is AWAY from topic, rather than TOWARD relevant information

8. harmful to editorial integrity

9. damaging to credibility of online resources in general

10. violates user expectations of link destinations and how links work

11. blurs distinction between editorial content and advertising

12. voluntarily, knowingly incorporated into web site content by webmaster, but users are in the dark about what the links really are (clandestine marketing ploy)

13. the link spam could target more words than the webmaster anticipated, thus making webmaster an object of ridicule and distrust

14. can result in users never returning to site, and also going to the trouble of warning others: thus generating negative word of mouth advertising against you

How You Can Combat Content Hypertext Spam:

Add *.intellitxt.com to your restricted sites list.

Depart from, and never return to, any online resource, web site, or blog, that contains Content Hypertext Spam.

Contact the webmaster and complain about the deceptive Content Hypertext Spam.

MORE INFO


For more insight into this new form of internet trash, please see:

Marketing Works-Julia Hyde "Vibrant Media's IntelliTXT--the next generation of annoying online advertising"

Editors Weblog.org "News Sites: new risks of confusion between ads and contents"

Wired.com "This Headline is Not For Sale"

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