So, I received an email the other day from a company called Media Discovery, offering me monies in order to sell them advertising space for this very blog.
To make a long story short, it wasn’t a completely spam email, just spam-ish. The first email I received in January the 21th was the following one:
I was wondering whether you’d be interested in selling advertising space on Ahughes.org? The advertisement would be unobtrusive and we can pay you an annual upfront payment for the advertising space.
We can also provide guest blog posts from industry experts in many cases.
I am from Media Discovery, a new media agency headquartered in the UK. We plan out and acquire advertising space on major websites and portals, as well as smaller niche sites. I personally deal with our smaller publishers, increasing brand awareness and share of voice for the major brands that our group works with.
We’d love to work with your site. If you have any questions or would like further information, please do not hesitate to email me directly.
So, I just ignored it without really thinking about it, I had much better things to do. It did look semi-legitimate though and the language, as well as the writing, didn’t remind of these Nigerian scam emails.
Then, out of the blue again, after seven days, here we go again. A second email:
I recently sent you an email about hosting an advertisement on your site. I hope you received it, if not it may have ended up in your junk folder.
I believe we offer a very attractive system of advertising. You would be paid a yearly-renewable fee for placing a text-based advertisement that is appropriate to the topic of your site.
Please get back to me if you are interested in placing an advertisement on Ahughes.org?
I didn’t really believe that anything like this would work. I didn’t even try googling to check whether it was a scam or not, because they claimed to be UK based –in Kingston upon Anus as it was finally proved– and I live near Willisden, London. In my mind this was not a simple coincidence, for the right or for the wrong reasons and I was curious about this deal, so I cold-emailed them back:
Please accept my apologies for my late reply, I’ve been really busy the previous weeks.
I am very pleased and it is an honour for me the fact that my blog attracted your company’s attention.
I would like to know some of the details of this advertising system of yours in order to honestly tell you if I am interested or not.
To begin, what do you reckon is the topic of my site? Also I would like to know about what fee we are talking for, approximately for a site similar to mine.
I am looking forward to your reply.
And then, when they replied, everything was crystal clear:
Thank you for getting back to me.
Here are additional details regarding our proposal:
After reviewing your website, we think that a new blog post would be the best and least intrusive option for you. We’ll pay 100 USD as an annual upfront payment, for a single post, and we will endeavour to make sure that you are paid within two working days, using PayPal or Moneybookers.
We will assure you that the blog post will be related to your website’s theme and philosophy. Here’s an example of a website that has the same type of advertising (The sample text advert is “J.D. Power” located in the 3rd paragraph.): http://www.mycarreviews.co.uk/citroen-c4-review/
We have highly competent writers here who can draft an article that will suit the theme of your website. You can even cite your preferred topics for the post and I will make sure that they will be taken into consideration.
Please let me know if you’re interested, so I can have your site assessed by our Technical team. I can then ask one of our client services team to send you a new article or ask our team of copywriters to craft an article to fit your site. This will include the advert details and client information.
Alternatively, if you have any more questions about this advert type, then please do let me know.
When I saw the 100 USD instead of GBP, I realised that the whole Kingston and UK thing was just a coincidence. This company operates in a very grey zone and it is technically illegal. I will explain to you how this works, in case you are tempted to try.
They want to buy backlinks from your blog, in order to sell them to their clients. The way they do this is simple. You write (or they write for you an article) and then in the middle of it there is a backlink that redirects to some casino, or penis enhancers or whatever spam is trendy on the internet. And they pay you for this. Because by doing this, their client’s page is performing better in the organic search results, at least for a while.
First reason you shouldn’t do this, is because you respect your readers, your blog, you have high standards and won’t sell your soul for some bucks. But even if you don’t give a flying fuck about the above, you will get punished for another reason.
The reason is called black-hat SEO and after a while, Google and every respectable search engine out there will understand that you are engaging in this technique and you are selling links. The result will be to be blacklisted and punished, you will not appear in the search results any more. I don’t know how much punished you are to be honest, as I am not claiming to be yet another SEO clown.
Then, your blog will be of no use for them, they will drop you like a stone and they will move towards molesting another fresh and virgin blog.
So, to sum up, I just wrote them back my last email (even though I will keep this post updated with any correspondence):
From what I can understand, you are offering me 100$ in order for me to upload a single post in my blog that will contain links to your client’s website, in order to improve his SEO.
Well, in case you don’t know, this is called black-hat SEO and it is very very unethical, shady and bad. Bad girl.
This is going to be reported and published in order to save poor bloggers from ruining their SEO for a couple of bucks.
Finally, the whois information for the domain mediadiscovery.com from mi6.ahughes.org is the following:
mediadiscovery.com domain lookup results from whois.tucows.com server:
Domain Name: MEDIADISCOVERY.COM
Registry Domain ID: 86883746_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.tucows.com
Registrar URL: http://tucowsdomains.com
Updated Date: 2012-07-12 04:21:11
Creation Date: 2002-05-23 18:14:04
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2015-05-23 18:14:04
Registrar: TUCOWS, INC.
Registrar IANA ID: 69
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: email@example.com
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.4165350123
Reseller: Fasthosts Internet Limited
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: Sandra Philips
Registrant Organization: New Web Ltd
Registrant Street: The Quadrant 118
Registrant City: Kingston upon Thames
Registrant State/Province: Greater London
Registrant Postal Code: KT2 6QJ
Registrant Country: GB
Registrant Phone: +44.2081336468
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Registry Admin ID:
Admin Name: Sandra Philips
Admin Organization: New Web Ltd
Admin Street: The Quadrant 118
Admin City: Kingston upon Thames
Admin State/Province: Greater London
Admin Postal Code: KT2 6QJ
Admin Country: GB
Admin Phone: +44.2081336468
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax Ext:
Admin Email: email@example.com
Registry Tech ID:
Tech Name: Sandra Philips
Tech Organization: New Web Ltd
Tech Street: The Quadrant 118
Tech City: Kingston upon Thames
Tech State/Province: Greater London
Tech Postal Code: KT2 6QJ
Tech Country: GB
Tech Phone: +44.2081336468
Tech Phone Ext:
Tech Fax Ext:
Tech Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Name Server: NS10.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Name Server: NS15.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Name Server: NS13.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Name Server: NS14.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Name Server: NS11.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Name Server: NS12.DNSMADEEASY.COM
URL of the ICANN WHOIS Data Problem Reporting System: http://wdprs.internic.net/
>>> Last update of WHOIS database: 2012-07-12 04:21:11 <<<
Registration Service Provider:
Fasthosts Internet Limited, email@example.com
You can shamelessly spam the hell out of firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the one that the domain is registered at.