Beware: Free Gift Card Ads

Watch out for those ads offering you free gift cards, free iPads, MacBooks, whatever. Invariably the goal of the person behind the ad is to get as much personal information out of you as possible, so that they can sell that data to various marketers. Who will then sell that data to other marketers. Who then market to you repeatedly. And sell the data to even more marketers, who also market to you repeatedly. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Consumerist and MacWorld warn readers about these kind of ads, specifically ones found on Facebook. They call them scams. I'm not sure if that term is accurate or not. It might be. But what I do know for sure is that they are email avalanches in the making. You remember my Co-reg tracking project? The 11,000+ email marketing messages I've received in response to me signing up on just a handful of websites? Well, most of those websites are exactly the kind of ones that Consumerist and MacWorld are warning you about.

These "free gift" sites take the data from the one or two forms you fill out, and sell it all over hell and gone. That's why I've got individual addresses that have received 200+, 500+ or even 1000+ "fabulous offers."

This is the exactly the kind of co-registration or lead generation thing that gives email marketing a black eye. Email marketers, put yourself in the consumer's shoes. Do you really want to do that to your email account?
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