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September 06, 2007

ValueClick Burns Advertiser Big Time Out of $10,000

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 9/06/2007 09:00:00 PM
Pablo Palatnik got burned big time by ValueClick, Inc. (Nasdaq VCLK). Pablo bought $10,000 of advertising from ValueClick. Over the course of 3 days, ValueClick proceeded to put his ads on a bunch of junk websites that incentivized users to sign up for free stuff. ValueClick launched the campaign on Friday afternoon and with nobody in the office over the weekend, ValueClick proceeded to put Pablo's campaign on a bunch of sites that generated useless leads:

The campaign was launched and the leads did in fact come in. ValueClick decided to start the campaign on a Friday (leaving us no room to stop the campaign with a 72 hour clause during the weekend), and approximately 300 leads or so came in over the course of the next few days. As marketers our eyes lit up, and we thought: “that’s it, our client is going to love us!”

The results were in…and they were horrific! Nearly EVERYONE (i.e. 99%) our client had called (and they did call all the leads, unfortunately for us) said they were filling out what they either thought was a survey to win a prize, had no idea what our client was offering, stated they never filled anything out of that sort, et cetera.

What a horror story! After they campaigned, ValueClick refused to issue the refund because the traffic was valid. Apparently, there is a difference between promotional traffic and incentivized traffic! I can't tell the difference but maybe you can:

ValueClick generates leads from sites such as http://www.myshoppersrewards.com/ and according to Scott Spaulding, director of sales at ValueClick, this is in no way incentivized traffic but “promotional traffic.”

Right. And then in the Terms and Conditions, this is what they say:

“To receive the incentive gift you must: 1) Register with valid information; 2) Complete the user survey; 3) Complete at least two (2) Silver offers Page, two (2) Gold offers Page, and two (2) Platinum offers Page; and 4) Refer one (1) unique household that also must complete these requirements. Purchase may be required. Purchase may be required. Please read Terms & Conditions for details. Upon completion of all requirements, we will ship the incentive gift to you with free shipping.”

Right, so the 4th word in the sentence is incentive! Hint hint ValueClick, you might want to change the Terms and Conditions so it says "promotional gift"!

There is alot of talk about ValueClick getting acquired in the press these days. The stock popped to $35 when Aquantive was picked up by Microsoft and has since cratered to $20. Maybe it will happen, maybe it will not. But I'd think twice about it after reading this advertiser's complaint! At the very least, I doubt it will be done at a huge premium.

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