Discover what's up in the business of marketing each Friday.
“Internet Marketing” Isn’t A Scam; Fix It, Please, The Verge
Hey, The Verge. Can I just call you Verge? We’ve got a little problem. Apparently you’ve grown past your gadget roots. In doing so, you’ve stumbled into just labeling a wide swath of legitimate marketers as scammers. By the way, in doing so, you’ve made yourself out to be scammers as well.
Postscript: Please be sure to read my follow-up post, The Verge’s “Scamworld” Profiles “Internet Marketing” Schemes You Should Avoid
You know what I’m talking about, that giant feature article called Scamworld. It’s a good, scary, sad tale of scummy make-easy-money programs out there. I’d love it if not for this one thing:
Raygoza is an Internet Marketer — a 21st century snake oil salesman.
Here’s the issue. I’m an internet marketer, but I’m not a 21st century snake oil salesman. Neither are the thousands or millions of other people who perform internet marketing activites such as:
- search engine optimization
- email marketing
- paid search
- display advertising
- social media marketing
These are all legitimate internet marketing activities. I can see that The Verge itself does some of them. So how’d we end up being further described like this:
The term Internet Marketing describes both a particular business model used to sell fraudulent products and services online, and the community or subculture that embraces it. It operates out in the open — with poorly designed websites, tacky infomercials, and outrageous claims designed to scare off the wary and draw in the curious, desperate, and naive.
Wow. I’m in an airport right now dashing this out, but when I get home, I can’t wait to tell my boys this new term for what Daddy does.
Hey, don’t believe me that you’ve got it wrong? How about a look at Wikipedia. It has a page about Internet Marketing. What’s there is like what I describe, not the nightmare that you’ve redefined internet marketing to be.
Oh, but you mean — let me quote as I was informed — Internet Marketing. With Capital Letters. As your features editor tweeted to me:
we’re pretty clearly talking about a particular phenomenon, capital I capital M.
Oh, you’re pretty clearly talking about a scummy segment that pushes “Internet Marketing” as a make money scam. But you’ve done nothing, nada, in that giant huge article, to clarify there’s actually a broader, longer-standing discipline of Internet Marketing that has nothing to do with that.
But hey, if Nokia comes along and declares that all its Windows Phones are now iPhones, I suppose you’ll start calling them iPhones, too.
Please fix this error. Because it is an error. Then I can go back to loving The Verge again. Please?
Postscript: About 15 minutes after this story went up, The Verge asked if I’d come on the VergeCast podcast that was in progress. I felt we had a good conversation about the issue. I’d still hope they’d better clarify the story. Here’s the show:
Postscript 2: To stress again how long-standing “Internet Marketing” has been an umbrella term used for the range of legitimate marketing activities done on the internet, consider the Internet Marketing Association. From its website:
- Founded in 2001
- The board includes a director from Adobe and a partner at Ernst & Young
- Corporate sponsors include IBM, Tesla, Google & Disneyland
- Two US congressional representatives are listed as government sponsors
- Members are from companies and organizations like Coca Cola, NASA and the YMCA
I can’t say that I’m that impressed by the group, which hasn’t seemed to react at all to the Verge’s article, despite the advocacy mission it’s supposed to have. Indeed, reading a recent article on the site advising people to using spinning software to create near-duplicates of articles is actually the opposite of what Google advises.
My impression is that the group started way back when internet marketing (of the non-Verge kind) was growing, similar to how the SEMPO group for search marketers was founded, and has since devolved largely into an annual awards and event group. It seems clever in getting lots of general support even if it doesn’t really do much to promote internet marketing activities.
Still, to get that type of support, it’s clear that a lot of major companies are involved with Internet Marketing that’s not the type described in the Verge article.
Postscript 3: Please see The Verge’s “Scamworld” Profiles “Internet Marketing” Schemes You Should Avoid.