If you’re like most people, you work hard to avoid clicking on the creepy “one weird trick” ads that advertise simple but amazing solutions to weight loss, car insurance, diabetes, small penises, and other modern woes. They wouldn’t be everywhere if they weren’t effective, but who is clicking? What happens when they do click?
Slate tackled this issue, sending Alex Kaufman online with a special quarantined laptop and a prepaid debit card, just in case. What happens when you click on those ads is: an informercial. No, really. You get a lengthy video that’s sort of tangentially about whatever product the company is hawking today. Maybe it’s a $90 auto-renewing penis pill subscription. Maybe it’s a book on how cinnamon is a magic diabetes cure.
Whatever it is, the product may not even be the ultimate goal. What they really want is a mailing list of people who are willing to sit through a boring and lengthy video and listen to its claims. Those people are going to pay attention to other wacky claims.
Why is the art so awful? It gives the ads credibility. No, really: what they’re selling is one plucky little company against Big Pharma and possibly also The Man. Slick ads make you think that you’re dealing with a slick operation.
Prepare to Be Shocked! [Slate]