Monday, November 09, 2009

Banner Ads can be so misleading.

I was on Facebook, and I should have known better. The ad showed a couple of small pink Tupperware containers and a pink ribbon and said that the free sample offer would be ending in 11 minutes. Mm-hm. And the next free sample offer will start in 11:01.

But I fell for it. I clicked. It took me to and asked for a little basic information, including mailing address, age, and general medical concerns. The next thing I knew, I was responding to page after page of "don't you want to buy a Nissan?" and "don't you want to get 180 health-related e-newsletters two or three times a week?" questions. Grrr. But I finished the survey (honestly, I'm afraid to stop, because what if I end up signed up for something because I specifically didn't say no). Did they say that my free samples would be in the mail? Did they even mention what free samples I would receive? Of course not.

So, I hunt around and look for a way to contact the company, and when I find the form, what options do I see listed in the drop-down menu for subject? Stuff like "Complaints" and "Advertised Offer Not Available" and "Samples Not Received." A little further digging finds that this site (and other sites targeting people looking for information on specific diseases and conditions) is run by Marketing Technology Solutions." Based on their own corporate website, linked-in page, and a press release about a lawsuit they recently filed against a rival, MTS seems to be in business to put ads in front of people seeking medical information and to "generate leads" -- in other words, collect personal information from people so that pharmaceutical companies (and apparently other businesses like Nissan) can try to sell them stuff.

Now, I know there's no such thing as a free lunch, except that the reason you're giving me the free lunch is in hopes that I'll want the same thing for lunch tomorrow and I'll be willing to pay for it. Luring me into the restaurant, having me fill out a bunch of surveys, then sending me away hungry is not the way to win my trust or my business. All I'm asking for is a little honesty in advertising.

Marketing Technology Solutions should be ashamed of themselves, but they seem to have come up with a scheme that brings them in a lot of money from medical companies and that's all that matters to them. Same for Facebook. They ought to ban misleading ads, but they're in it for the money, too.

No comments: