How to Spot a Scam

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Local Ad Link MLM Scam

The following testimonial can be read at

Local Adlink
17815 Sky Park Circle
Irvine, California, 92614
U.S.ALocal Ad Link – Great Program or Complete Rip Off?

Recently, I was exposed to the “business opportunity". After evaluating this company, its comp structure, and marketing practices, I am concerned about the black eye their bogus program will put on the face of the internet marketing industry – in particular, Google.

First off, from what I understand, LocalAdLink claims to have a “secret sauce" in the form of advertising packages that utilize Google Adwords. Reselling and managing Google Adwords account is no secret. Companies and individuals have been doing this successfully for years and often it is outsourced to professionals who optimize Adwords campaigns – I am one such professional. Observing the methods that LocalAdLink uses shows me that they are novices at best when it comes to managing Adwords Ads. I'll get to those specific practices later in this post.

Local Ad Link intimates that they have some sort of secret window in to Google sponsored links. The fact is they are buying clicks just like anyone else – the difference is they have no idea how to by clicks or build a good strategy.

Here's one of the many reasons why: they are selling advertising packages that claim to be targeted to specific zip codes. Google is in fact set up to do geo targeted campaigns, however, the accuracy of geo targeted campaigns varies based on the size of the geo targeted area. For example, when it comes to targeting a whole country, Google can get a 99.9% accuracy. At the state level, it's about 85% accurate. At the zip code level it's only 50% accurate. That means that 50% of geo targeted clicks at the zip code level are WASTED clicks. This translates to a low value, off target strategy – complete hype.

Here's an example of how ridiculous this strategy is:

I searched on Google for “Corona CA Signs" and found a page with a LocalAdLink ad in the sponsored pay per click links.

Note, the search term I used in Google is “Corona ca signs" indicating that I am searching for signs in Corona California. So far so good – LocalAdLink has a client, Vital Signs was represented at the top for this search term, however, the ad copy is not optimized to increase Quality Scores. This is a minor flaw compared to what is found when you actually click on the link and see the landing page for Vital Signs.

The Local Ad Link displays a client that is only 569 miles away from Corona! So much for zip code targeting! But, anyone who knows Adwords already knows this. It is obvious that Vital Signs will receive zero value from a search for signs by someone in Corona CA. Ask yourself how valuable that click is. This is not an uncommon scenario with Local Ad Links ads - it's their standard - completely off target and total waste of the one chance their service has to produce any value.

This still is not the worst of it. The ads are only shown intermittently and rotated with other competitors if shown at all.

Still worse, Local Ad Link not only wastes the very few clicks it gets for its clients on out of the area results that are far from targeted, but they pay their representatives 50% of the client spend. On top of that, they still have to turn a profit AND pay Google their Pay Per Click fees.

Put this in perspective. Professional (reputable) pay per click management firms like Jumpfly and many others charge a client a 15% management fee for REAL Adwords optimization.

Here is a post from another victim of LocalAdLink:

“I signed up for Boomj local adlink advertsing. I signed the $99 permonth ad. I calculated out my cost per click and it was $16.50 per click instead of googles $2.38 per click. I used Google analytics to monitor whats going on.
I get the same amount of clicks from organic sites. or even my free yellow ad.

Google said I has 10 clicks in 10 days and only 2 of the clicks were new visitors. So I paid $16.50 per click. Wow! what a deal. This is definently a scam. Go with google adwords. this works. I have over 80% new visitors compared to my local adlink ad at only 20% NEW VISITORS."

Is anyone catching on? This is the most blatant advertising scam I've seen in a long time. From what I've heard, Local Ad Link actually tells prospective MLM prospects that they are better off going through them than going straight to Google. Then, they hype up their zip code marketing 'strategy'. Sadly, it is painfully obvious to anyone who understands Adwords that there is no strategy whatsoever behind the hype.

In the end, Local Ad Link can only be a scam. They have to buy their clicks from Google like everyone else. The only difference is that they mark up the resale amount higher than anyone and then they put the ads in all the wrong places with the worst strategy in the history of Novice Google Adwords advertising - putting a black eye on Google and REAL professionals who actually study strategies that work.

Translation – it's all hype and there is little to no value for the client. In the end, all their service accomplishes is to deliver a highly insincere version of what Google can really do for a business. I wonder how long Google will allow itself to be abused or how long it will take for people to catch on to this scam. Either way, scams unravel at some point. If you are caught up in the ether and hype of Local Ad Link's MLM, just go shop around for Pay Per Click management companies - they are everywhere charging 80% less and actually implementing a real strategy.


Consumeradvocate said...

Excellent article my friend. You have a great blog site. I will recommend it to my friends.

I am a 72 yr. old consumer advocate. I am exited that younger people are picking up the cause for Ralph and I.

Frank Thomas

Martha said...

Unrelated to this post, but I couldn't figure out where else to submit it. Two scammers currently targeting the Boston furniture section:

Richard Loyld / Rechard Loyld / /

Sanchez David / David Sanchez / / /

Both contact the user about an item being sold, wait for a response, then claim they want to purchase it, demand the user take down the Craigstlist listing, and ask for an extensive set of personal details (full name, physical address, phone number) to mail a check and make vague claims about a staff or movers coming to pick it up.

David also claims to be deaf and thus can only communicate via email. said...

great we cannot tell whether a business is scam or real online.