There are a ton of pay per click ad campaign scams out there today. Most of the stories end in the exact same way where the victim doesn’t pay Google or Bing directly. They end up paying the company who set up the ad campaign in the first place. However recently I found this one particular modification to be incredibly interesting. This one, not only somewhat locks people into their scam (or as they put it “service”) but also gives them positive reinforcement to help perpetuate their trick/scam.
Metered phone numbers:
I did some research online about this one company trick/scam practices. Lots of people have complained about the metered phone numbers that they use to prove to their clients that they are driving traffic to their website. Please read these two articles here: “Dex Sucks” and “Rip Off Report“. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Yes, these meter numbers can, once you cancel the service with this company actually persist online. The problem is if a potential client calls it will no longer be calling the original company it will either be out of service or be assigned to yet another “client” who also fell victim to these tactics.
The Pay Per Click funnel:
For this example let’s use a client that I am currently working for. I am in the process of doing a complete website redesign for BigTenRentals.com (Yes, that website is purely XHTML but that’s another long story). So how is a company that was hired to do PPC ads a shady company that is funneling the pay per click ads to them first? Well, it turns out that they are the owners of BigTenRentals.NET. What they did was set up an entire pay per click ads campaign on bing/yahoo and google and direct all of that campaign’s traffic to there spoof/ripoff .NET site. Why are they doing it? Because we (before I was hired) hired them to set up a PPC ad campaign. Those campaigns should go directly to our pages NOT there’s.
The pay per click scam:
This the part that the other articles have missed. When I called the marketing firm/rep who implemented this, I asked them does Google and Bing/Yahoo bill us directly? The rep replied simply… “no we build Big Ten Rentals directly”. I then asked, “what is there ‘take’ on pay per click ads?” I also said, “I know everyone needs to make a buck” he simply replied that that is above his pay grade and that he doesn’t know what percentage they take out. I informed my client BigTenRentals and they are currently spending several hundreds of dollars per month on this pay per click ad campaign. The main problem I have is: I have no idea just how much of that several hundreds of dollars is actually going to ads and how much is being pocketed by the company! Honestly, this company may be on the up and up (I almost typed that with a straight face!) but I have no way to prove that either! After all, they don’t want to release the percentage to me (their own client) over the phone. That set off a HUGE RED FLAG for me. The other problem I have is with the funnel website! We essentially paid this company to become a competitor online, that is a huge slap in the face for this SEO guy! I have looked into Trade Marking BigTenRentals and forcing them to stop.
Competing domain name:
They essentially set up a competing domain name when they created BigTenRentals.NET. Granted their single page domain will never outperform our website which has hundreds of pages. Plus, I think they have actually blocked their website from being indexed on google (I need to double check). The sad thing is the current website for BigTenRentals.com is so incredibly underperforming because of the poor practices of the previous web designer. Everything was terminated in images which are not searchable by Google or Bing. Hundreds of missed opportunities and thousands of missed clients on that website.
I then proceeded to ask what the bounce rate was on that spoof website bigtenrentals.NET (again not owned or operated by Big Ten Rentals the business). The website is obviously not optimized for humans to have total credibility in that site (Please see the screen capture provided). It doesn’t look like a reputable company.
That company’s PPC ads:
Their target pay per click ads cover lots of things that Big Ten Rentals rents. From bleacher rentals, event tent rentals and just all-around general rentals (Big Ten Rental’s stock is simply amazing). That landing page of scam/spoof.NET has a mishmash of items that Big Ten Rentals has to offer. They should have at least set up a landing page that was about bleacher rental. Plus a specific page for Event Tent rentals. Right now if you click on a bleacher themed pay click ad it goes to that single page shown.
How I setup PPC ads: (The way it should be done)
When I set up a PPC ad campaign I set it up for specific subjects. Let’s take “event tent rental”. When the person clicks on the paper click add pertaining to event tent rentals it will take them to a page that is specific about event tent rentals on BigTenRentals.com. They are currently serving up a mashup site with random junk on it.
Recorded phone calls:
You will notice on the BigTenRentals.NET that the phone number on that page isn’t the Big Ten Rentals actual phone number (their real number is 1-319-337-7368) . The phone number on BigTenRentals.NET is (1-855-237-1398) a meter number and most of the time the calls are being recorded. There are several that are “billed” that haven’t been actually recorded.
Credibility and positive reinforcement:
I’m assuming that the reason behind the recording calls is to give credibility and positive reinforcement to this “service”. This campaign, that this company is doing, is actually working! At least that this how this company is trying to make you feel. They are able to prove that they have increased both phone calls and traffic to your website through these practices. I must admit it is a smart idea. Shady, untrustworthy, but smart.
That is what google analytics is for:
I don’t need someone BS paper click Ad funnel to prove that most of the website’s traffic is coming from pay per click ads. That is exactly what Google Analytics is for!
I’m truly sorry!
The worst part is, I am sorry that I didn’t catch this sooner. I’ve been so busy with multiple things for Big Ten Rentals (and another one of the owner’s companies) that I haven’t really had a chance to really look at the analytics. I would have seen that most of the traffic was coming from this pay per click funnel. I hate that I missed this. I hate that I let my boss down. But what I hate even more that I let you and your company make money for an extra month while I’ve been at this job (about one month). Please note that I will rectify that situation shortly.
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