The Marketing Analytics Intersect

Have you ever thought about why your company does not send email spam?

Ok, based on the number of unsolicited emails I get that don't provide an "unsubscribe" option, perhaps you do send spam. :)

No. I don't mean that kind of "we can write high-value content for your blog Occam's Razor" kind of spam or even the you ordered from us once and now we will keep emailing you BUY NOW offers kind of spam.

I mean, why don't you send out Nigerian Prince scam emails?

Even when everyone knows they are a scam, they are still profitable.

If making some money by doing something shady were ever acceptable, I can't think of a lower investment higher ROI possibility.

Ok. So you don't want to go to jail. But, there are other equally spammy, borderline scammy, ways for you to make some money.

Why does your company not do that?

I suspect it is because you feel it is icky.

Or, perhaps it is because it is not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.

Or, perhaps the short-term win is not worth the long-term loss of reputation, brand, etc.

Or, perhaps, you are that special type of person whose high-morals prevent you from stooping to such low-quality actions because it just seems to be in such poor taste.

If one of those is the reason that you don't send scam emails a la nigerian prince... That is a very good thing.

If more, or all of the above, are reasons that you don't send scam emails a la nigerian prince... You are worthy of admiration.

But. Here's my question: If you choose not to send spam email, or undertake other such spiritually questionable initiatives, why would your site's content end with this...


Above comes from a very old, what one might consider, a reputable content website.

There is no theme in the "You May Like."

Every single one goes to an obviously spammy (sometimes scammy) website where the only name of the game is the old school goal to drive up page views for ad impressions.

You will always feel dirty having ended up at any of the above.

Even if you don't click on any of the links, you will feel dirty for how you were treated, insulted at the assumption of your low intellect, and at the very least, you will think ill of the site that would include this "You May Like."

If your business would never send out nigerian email scam, why would you do the above?

You know it is wrong. You know it is absolutely low quality. And, you know it is borderline - if not actually - harmful to your audience.

Why still do it?

Why still risk brand destruction?

Rather than remembering your good content, chances are high I'll never come back again because I question your foundational judgment.

What I've been told by a few companies I've checked with is that Taboola
(and alike) add a small but material amount of money to the bottom line. Hence, they believe the tradeoff between brand destruction and cash is a reasonable one to make.

Keep that thought in mind, we'll continue below.

First, here's another example I bumped into on the site of a brand that you would easily consider a "premium content" site. Don't skip over it, feel the user experience. You are reading an important topic article, you reach the end, and now I request you to read at least all the text in bold below...


How does it make you feel? Keep that feeling with you.

I do not doubt that experiences like the above add some revenue to the publisher. Remember, Nigerian prince emails added revenue to the sender too.

Here's the long-term, even medium-term, thinking that's missing: If the small amount of money you make with the above brand destruction is material to your survival as a business, in exchange for at the minimum crap user experience at its worst sending your users to bad places... Do you really have a business in the first place?

If your content is worthy there are a whole host of ways in which you can monetize it and grow it. (See PS at the end.)

If your content is worthy and you are failing to monetize it, is Taboola really going to save your business? (No. You are simply postponing your day of reckoning.)

If your content is not worthy and hence you are failing to monetize it, is Taboola really going to save your business? (No. You are simply postponing your day of reckoning.)

The most dangerous implication of you slapping Taboola on is a false sense of temporary small success.

It results in the perpetuation of leadership failures.

Medium to long-term, it results in business death.

: (

Survival requires hard decisions. Thriving requires innovation. Nigerian prince scams or Taboola solve for neither.


Two important points before I close.


I cannot emphasize this enough: Taboola is not the problem here, you are.

Just as PowerPoint does not suck, you do... Taboola is simply a platform. The fact that it is being used to drive brand destruction, cause user experience deterioration (or harm), and not address the actual business problems you have is all on you.

Can Taboola be used for user-positive AND business-positive purposes? Their site outlines some ideas, I encourage you to visit it.

If you permit me a moment of liberty, I want to use Taboola as a mnemonic...


I would have failed to inspire you through this newsletter if you don't see all the other Taboolaing that your company is executing.

(Taboolaing: Making short-term tradeoffs for long-term business loss.)

When your company sends unsolicited emails to your users, you are Taboolaing.

When you decide to hide your call center phone number, you are Taboolaing.

When you make borderline misleading claims in your ads, you are Taboolaing.

When you keep the package size the same but now put less cereal in it hoping no one will notice, you are Taboolaing.

When your internal company politics means non-performing executives retain good-sized teams, you are Taboolaing.

When people who speak the truth, with data, are mowed down because the truth is inconvenient, you are Taboolaing.

When you put the company first and the user nineteenth, you are Taboolaing.

When you send a deceptive PR story to all TV stations and they unquestioningly play that story to amplify the borderline truth, you are Taboolaing.

When you... Et al.

You catch my drift.

The central example in this newsletter is just that, an example. The implications of that example are everywhere in your company. I hope this sharpens your ability to see them.

Bottomline: The road to long-term business sustainability goes through a commitment to innovation that creates distinctive value, the love required to deliver user-first experiences (product, service, everything), and the courage to make hard choices.

If you are going to fail, why not fail with pride?

Why engage in Nigerian prince-ing?


PS: Publishing as a business is in hard times. I recognize this. Read everything Thomas writes to think differently about publishing - pay for his subscription, I do. Like this Plus article on Monetization and this Plus article on market dynamics. Again, knowledge is not free, please pay for Baekdal Plus. Thank you.

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