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If your newsfeeds are anything like mine, they’ve been full of headlines promising huge discounts over the past few days. And it’s set to continue, with Black Friday now feeling like an every-week event. The problem is, online media has now been set up to push these deals to you. Here’s why.
Websites used to make most of their money through advertising. The ads team would strike a deal where HP, say, would pay £20 per thousand impressions of an advert. That model for making money has hugely diminished, to the point where you’re lucky to get £1 per thousand.
So websites need other ways to make cash. Some do so via events, some via associated print publications, some through those aggressive but effect auto-playing video ads and “skins” that fill the whole of your viewing area.
Black Friday affiliate deals…
But the biggest area of growth has been via affiliate deals. These are where Amazon, Ebay and the like offer websites a small percentage of the sales fee if you buy the product direct from their link.
But it’s had a side effect: come sales season, every single website around the world (or so it seems) pumps its resources into promoting deals.
There are good sides to this. Journalists are digging through the deals to find the best offers, and if you’re fortunate then you will reap the benefits.
Sadly, the downside is equally obvious. In their eagerness to make you buy, the publishers are using sales tactics that are roughly on a par with street vendors yelling “Two for a pound” in your ear as you walk past.
I wouldn’t have a problem with this if it was just a handful of sites – although using adjectives like “epic” to describe a 30% saving is stretching the definition of that word beyond breaking point – but the cumulative effect is damaging. My Google news feed used to be a nice selection of stories to match my main interests; now it’s a sales catalogue.
What can you and I do about this? Bugger all. Aside from not clicking on the links, which frankly won’t do much good if everyone else is clicking them. Or you might choose to mute the most offensive brands on your social media/newsfeed of choice.
Really, though, this is the way things are going to be. Unless we all choose to pay for access to our news, publishers have to make money. Still, at least you now know why it’s happening, right?
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