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An affiliate page deconstructed

Note: Read the explanation of affiliate / shill marketing first to understand the motivations behind affiliate sites.

Let’s look at one affiliate site I found by searching for “weight loss”.  The URL is
This site tries to sell the ThermothinPlus with Acai and Colon Cleanse products.


1- Geotargeting

The website is targeted specifically to the visitor’s location, in this case Toronto.  The affiliate marketer is hoping that visitors will relate more to somebody from their own city.

If you visit the website from a different IP address, you will actually get a totally different site.  In the alternate version of the site, the “Laura Johnson” character (probably the affiliate marketer pretending to be a fat chick) is apparently somebody who has created a weight loss system, not some fake blogger recommending a product that “worked” for her.


2- Images likely made up

Affiliate marketers usually pull images from Google Images or because it’s a way to quickly put something together (they are always tinkering with their webpages to figure out what will convert better).  In this case I couldn’t figure out where the images came from.  But it’s highly likely that the images are of different people.

Firstly, in the before/after comparison, anybody who loses such significant weight will likely have excess, flabby skin. When people lose a lot of weight, they don’t lose the skin.  Trying Google images on “weight loss loose skin”.


Also, the page shows another set of before/after pictures.  But the “after” picture in that set does not match the earlier set- there’s no way that the cute brunette sitting on that bed is the same person as the one pictured below.  The flab does not fit the other.


Bottom line: it’s very likely that these are all different people.

3- The site claims that 46 pounds was lost… but the first sett of pictures shows a much more dramatic weight loss.

4- To gain credibility, the site points out that the product was endorsed by Dr. Oz on the Rachel Ray show.  Affiliate marketers will try to associate the product with authoritative or trustworthy sources in order to induce visitors into buying.  Dr. Oz probably never endorsed the weight loss products in question.

5- The site is a “blog”.

The marketer is trying to gain the visitor’s trust.  The site is masquerading as a blog where the blogger relates her own experience about a particular product in a way that appears less biased than a hard-sell (which don’t work).

It should be obvious that the site is a blog only in appearance.  There is no other content on the site.  When you try to navigate away from the page, a pop-up is thrown up that makes a last-ditch attempt at converting the visitor.


6- The site was updated this month.

If you look in the HTML code of the website, there is a Javascript that changes the text to the current month.

Other tricks in the text of the website:

- The author talks about her experiences in a way that the target audience would/might relate to.

I tried all the “brand-name” diets like Atkins, South Beach, cabbage (my least favorite) soup, lemon juice. I even tried weight management plans like Weight Watches – the food was horrible! I eventually gave up. I stopped going out with friends. I felt ugly. I started eating more and more because I just didn’t care. I was in a downward spiral.

There’s a lot of people out there (fat and thin, male and female) who are very insecure about their weight.  They would probably relate well to other insecure people.  They would also have the shared experience of trying diets that don’t work.

Act soon!!!

The first part of the page is designed to get the visitor interested (”this worked for me” / “this can make you thin”) and to make the visitor trust the blogger.

Halfway into the page, there is copy that makes it appear as if the visitor’s chance of getting a deal on the weight loss products is disappearing.

Please do also make sure to order those free packages right now. Because the ThermothinPlus Free Trial Offer is expiring on July 31, 2009 and the Colon Cleanse Free Trial is expiring on July 31, 2009! So make sure to get yours before they run out of stock!

The marketer is trying to get the visitor to act quickly and not carefully research the purchase.  Of course, there is a Javascript on the page that keeps updating the date to whatever the current date is.

Social Proof

At the end of the blog, there are a bunch of comments left by the blog’s “readers”.  This may be an attempt to use social proof.  People are more inclined to do something if everybody else is doing it.

Choice of weight loss products

Affiliate marketers will promote the products with the best payouts, which tends to be the products with the highest margins.  It costs less than a dollar to make a bottle full of pills.

Do the products actually work? It’s extremely unlikely.

Are people really dumb enough to fall for this stuff?

You might be asking yourself that.  Keep in mind that while most people are smart enough to be skeptical, there are people out there who are extremely insecure about their weight.  So insecure that they will try a lot of things to be skinny.  And many anorexics don’t even realize that they aren’t fat.

It’s sad that affiliate marketers prey on these people… but that is what they do.  And it works. There is also a lot of money to be made.  Some marketers make six to seven figures a year doing affiliate marketing.

No honour among thieves

Another practice among affiliate marketers is to simply copy somebody else’s campaign.  Hence, Sandra’s diet blog.  However, the copycat didn’t do a very good job as their geotargeting failed and left blanks on the blog page.  Oops.


One Comment

  1. Juicing Recipes wrote:

    Shameful but I guess thieves have no shame. The internet is full of these quacks and wackos who have no intention of getting you what you want, instead their only intent is to rob you of your hard earned cash.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink