Panos Ipeirotis, who writes the aptly named "A Computer Scientist in a Business School" blog, describes how he made national news by unraveling a multimillion-dollar "clickfraud" enterprise that used hidden frames, pornographic traffic brokerages, clever misdirection and obfuscation techniques, traffic laundering, skimmed traffic, and other techniques from the shadier side of the Internet's ad-supported ecosystem to extract anywhere from $400K to $5M to date. The monetary losers were pornographic sites, but a number of high-profile "legit" sites were implicated, unwittingly used as "laundries" for the traffic. The scheme itself is awfully baroque, and Ipeirotis does an admirable job of laying it out, while introducing all these marvelously weird terms describing the modern practices of Internet grifters.
At this point, we now know how this person makes money. Clearly, there is click-fraud: the scammer is employing click-fraud services to click on the pay-per-click ads "displayed" in his parked domains. If some of the ads are also pay-per-impression, he may also get paid for these invisible impressions that happen within the 0x0 iframe.
Why the parked domains though? Why not doing the same directly within the porn site? The answer is simple: Traffic laundering.
What do I mean by "traffic laundering"? First, the ad networks are unlikely to place many ads within a porn site. On the other hand, they have ad-placement services for parked domains. Second, the publishers that get the traffic from the parked domains see in the referral URLs some legitimately-sounding domain names, not a porn site. Even if they go and check the site, they will only see an empty site full of ads. Nothing too suspicious. Hats off to the scammer. Clever scheme.
You think we are done? No. There is one more piece in the puzzle. How does the scammer attract visitors to the porn site?
The other interesting part: The porn website does not really contain porn! There are a few images but most of the links are to other porn website that actually host the video. In other words, the scammer does not even pay the cost of hosting porn!
We all probably had at least one friend who attempted to reinvent themselves after high-school in a way that was so not them that it just made you feel pity. You know what I'm talking about. Like the goody-goody who tried so hard to change their squeaky clean reputation, but would clearly never be a badass cool kid, no matter how many times they told you that they got "sooooo drunk" last weekend.
That's what this ad reminds me of.
Somehow, North Dakota has managed to create a tourism ad that is simultaneously offensively sleazy and desperately uncool. It's trying to make a wink-wink, "women are objects" lad mag joke. But it looks like your really dorky, incredibly square uncle's idea of a wink-wink, "women are objects" lad mag joke.
It's sleaze as designed by people who have no idea what sleaze is supposed to look like. They've just heard about it third-hand from someone who went to Vegas once.
I played with a lot of Legos when I was a little girl. And, while I certainly liked dolls, that wasn't really what I used Legos for. (And, frankly, going shopping, playing house, and being "just like me" wasn't what I used dolls for. In my experience, games of playing house tend to involve a lot more violent interaction with pirates, Darth Vader, and Nazis than advertising to girls would lead you to suspect. First you put the baby to bed, then you defend her with your mad karate skills, right?) Ads like this old one from 1981 appeal to me a whole lot more than modern girlvertising. I've seen this ad passed around the Internet before. But the contrast with those recent reminders of who advertisers and toymakers think girls are strikes me as particularly timely.
Here's a neat bit of paper ephemera: A brochure of the Soviet pavilion at Expo 58, also known as the Brussels World Fair—which was the first World Fair after World War II. The Soviet pavillion brochure includes period-perfect illustrations, a neat map, and promises of love 'n' leisure in the land of the Reds: "Sputniks and Rockets! Soviet Women!"
Well, I suppose we all have to pay the rent. In the Japanese television commercial embedded above, Jamiroquai's Jay Kay sings an alternate version of the band's '90s funkyraver smash hit "Virtual Insanity" in which the lyrics have been changed to praise the noodly goodness of Cup Noodle instant ramen (known in the USA as "Cup Noodles").