I was reading one of my local newspapers online this morning, and was a bit surprised on the copywriting in the sidebar for an article. A “Shocking” online report regarding colon cleansers? Why would the Chicago Tribune be writing online reports about that?
Clicking through the article only continued the confusion: three products, each evaluated against each other, each with testimonials, reviews, stars, and even a convenient “buy” button…
And that’s when I realized I’d been taken. I was on a product sales website, reading falsely written testimonials, by false doctors, with false reviews. And I’d been taken there through a false article promotion, through a newspaper resource I tend to trust.
Who wins with all these lies and deceptions? The product company doesn’t win by betraying my trust. The newspaper certainly doesn’t win just by reporting advertisement click revenue. I’m three times more suspicious of all their promotions now. There, at the top: are those really news photos? Or another fake article advertisement? Off there, in the sidebar: really a journalist-written, editor vetted article?
There’s often a good amount of give-and-take tension between advertising and usability. But as newspaper revenue shortfalls increase, I’m seeing more and more obtrusive, abusive, and plain deceptive advertising practices. Newspaper revenue shortfalls aren’t resolved by betraying the reader’s trust. Trust is a lot more expensive to build than readers.
Have a comment or question? Send us a note. It won't be shown here and email isn't required, unless you'd like a