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I have noticed increasing numbers of adverts that turn out to be click-bait, and I think advertisers are taking advantage of Road.cc's Daily Deals engine. At least that is the charitable view.

Typical example of what you see:
Gore C5 Gore Windstopper Thermo Trail Jacket
Evans Cycles
£107.00-40%

But if you were hoping to pay just £107 you will most likely be disappointed. The price is £169.99 when you click through. So what's going on?

Well, there is one size/colour combination available at the advertised price. One out of the possible 15 colour/size combinations. And it's inevitably an outlier. It's just underhand and dishonest, what you see is not what you get.

Interestingly, when I copied and pasted the advert text above, it looked like this:

Gore C5 Gore Windstopper Thermo Trail Jacket | Dark Blue - Small
Evans Cycles
£107.00-40%

So the crucial information - Dark Blue Small - is available, but it is not displayed in the formatted web page.

So the deception is 100% deliberate. Over to you Road.cc

15 comments

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IanEdward [389 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

I'd bet road.cc have to promote what they're asked to promote, it's a free website after all and they'll need the income.

They're hardly the only ones anyway, wiggle/CRC etc. are really bad for this, google almost anything and they'll come up first, even if they don't have it or only had it 4 years ago etc. etc.

Actually renders Google slightly less effective as a search engine given that it now throws up poor quality results, but of course what Google care about is the advertising $$ so they won't care either.

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cougie [98 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Christ. This is the Crime of the Century ! 

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Sriracha [351 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
cougie wrote:

Christ. This is the Crime of the Century ! 

Actually, you'd be wrong there, it isn't. However, unlike the Crime of the Century, it is easily resolved. The information required to avoid click-baiting is available to the webpage, but is deliberately withheld from the viewer. I'd have thought that with little effort Road.cc could make this wilfull annoyance go away. Unless they prefer it the way things are?

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Tony Farrelly [3006 posts] 1 month ago
10 likes

I think you're referring to the road.cc Daily Deals sidebar? This is an auto-generated widget that we know does, in some cases, pull in deals that we'd not normally promote. The issue that you refer to with price inaccuracies and limited available sizes/colours is something that seems to be affecting Evans Cycles particularly.

The 'deals engine' is a third party plug in widget that in turn is plugged in to a database of products from all the big online retailers plus ebay and Amazon - it's constantly updating and it's set to pull in the best deal on a particular product in real time - it's also the same widget that pulls in the best deals on review products. We have no control over what appears in it - other than to ask for the settings not to pull in multiples of the same thing from the same retailer.
The retailers don't pay us to be in it, we earn commission (eventually) on any sales that it might generate. The same engine is used in various forms by all our competitors too.

Unfortunately some retailers seem to have decided to try and game the widget - particularly when it comes to clothing by pricing a harder to sell size or colour at a much lower price so that it gets pulled in - in much the same way as pretty much all of them try to game Google. It's a short-sighted policy and it is something we're talking to Monetizer – who's widget it is – to see if there are ways we can screen out stuff like this. At the moment though we and they can't.

We can and do screen the deals that appear in our DealClincher articles though because we have control over those – we always try to be as open and honest about the availability of the product that we're highlighting. If the item is in limited stock, or only discounted in a particular colour, we'll always tell you.

 

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Sriracha [351 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Tony, thanks for the detailed reply and for the intentions you signal. In particular:
"It's a short-sighted policy and it is something we're talking to Monetizer – who's widget it is – to see if there are ways we can screen out stuff like this. At the moment though we and they can't."
But surely you or they can. In the example I gave (yes, Evans) the visible ad does not specify that the price is only for small/blue, it just lists the attractive price for the item in general. And yet within the html the information "small/blue" is already embedded. So this is not a complex issue of having to attach some slippery data - the data is there, but is switched off from being displayed. Flip that switch.

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devon__tri [11 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Easy...

 

 src="https://link.monetizer101.com/widget/custom-2.0.3/iframe.html"

Block the following:

 

link.monetizer101.com

cdn.road.cc

 

The daily deals just simply will never appear... you're welcome.

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alansmurphy [2351 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

Monitizer possibly can but then if there were multiple price points for multiple products it wouldn't work or in fact just show lots of (for example) jackets of the same sort and all the prices and colours (meaning you don't see the bike / multi-tool etc. that may be of interest).

 

With regards to Tony being able to do something about it, no direspect to this awesome site but do you think they have that power? "If you don't change it we'll walk away" is likely to result in 'bye'. I'd rather the odd advert that doesn't apply and receive all the content here than be asked to contribute to the revenue source in other ways i.e. content pay wall.

 

 

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Sriracha [351 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
alansmurphy wrote:

Monitizer possibly can but then if there were multiple price points for multiple products it wouldn't work or in fact just show lots of (for example) jackets of the same sort and all the prices and colours (meaning you don't see the bike / multi-tool etc. that may be of interest).

 

With regards to Tony being able to do something about it, no direspect to this awesome site but do you think they have that power? "If you don't change it we'll walk away" is likely to result in 'bye'. I'd rather the odd advert that doesn't apply and receive all the content here than be asked to contribute to the revenue source in other ways i.e. content pay wall.

 

 

Valid points. Of course you're right that it is outside Tony's power, he is already doing his best.

As regards multiple price points depending on size/colour; once the incentive of gaming the system is gone maybe the 'need' for multiple prices will disappear.

However if there are durable reasons for multiple prices depending on size/colour and there was an imperative to avoid multiple listings at least they could include the weasel word "from"(which does appear once you click through to Evans' site).

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Rick_Rude [506 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I tried to browse the site on Chrome on a mobile and it was an ad frenzy. You almost literally can't post anything as 75% the screen was taken up by the ad and sometime even when you tried to close it, it instally popped back up. A totally shit user experience.

The ONLY was I look at the site on a mobile is with Brave or something else that blocks all the ads properly.

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Sriracha [351 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Rick_Rude wrote:

I tried to browse the site on Chrome on a mobile and it was an ad frenzy. You almost literally can't post anything as 75% the screen was taken up by the ad and sometime even when you tried to close it, it instally popped back up. A totally shit user experience.

The ONLY was I look at the site on a mobile is with Brave or something else that blocks all the ads properly.

Samsung Internet with Disconnect for Samsung works a treat. I find it a decent browser too.

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Tony Farrelly [3006 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Rick_Rude wrote:

I tried to browse the site on Chrome on a mobile and it was an ad frenzy. You almost literally can't post anything as 75% the screen was taken up by the ad and sometime even when you tried to close it, it instally popped back up. A totally shit user experience.

The ONLY was I look at the site on a mobile is with Brave or something else that blocks all the ads properly.

Barring last weekend that's not an experience of the site on mobile that I recognise and I do spend a fair amount of time looking at it, and working on it (sometimes) on a mobile phone. Last weekend we did briefly get transported back to the bad old days of spammy pop-ups, when someone(s) found a hole in our (and other programmatic ad networks' defences) a problem that affected a lot of sites besides just us.
Obviously we know that the ads are an irritant for some, but they pay for the site and the alternatives that will keep it a free to use experience either don't pay enough (affiliate) or for the amounts we'd need to run to actually pay for the site would IMO compromise what we're about (sponsored content).
One of our 2020 New Year's resolutions is to explore other methods of revenue raising. One of the ideas up for discussion is a paid for ads free version of the site - our user surveys suggest that there is potentially enough support for that to make it viable. Obviously the down side for some would be that it would only work if people using ad blockers had to chose between taking out a subscription or turning off their ad blocker if they wanted access.
Currently Google is (inadvertently I hope) making the internet a tougher place to be for specialist and independent websites like this one so I'm sure we're not alone in looking at stuff like this with half an eye on loosening their grip.

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kil0ran [1771 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I'd definitely pay for an ad-free version of the site. Would save me money in the long run because I wouldn't think "oooh, bargain" and end up buying stuff I don't need  1

I think if you did it so you kept the affiliate links in reviews/best-ofs but got rid of the sidebars it would work. If I've read a positive review I'm going to want to check current pricing.

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kil0ran [1771 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I'd definitely pay for an ad-free version of the site. Would save me money in the long run because I wouldn't think "oooh, bargain" and end up buying stuff I don't need  1

I think if you did it so you kept the affiliate links in reviews/best-ofs but got rid of the sidebars it would work. If I've read a positive review I'm going to want to check current pricing.

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hirsute [1261 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
kil0ran wrote:

I'd definitely pay for an ad-free version of the site. Would save me money in the long run because I wouldn't think "oooh, bargain" and end up buying stuff I don't need  1

I think if you did it so you kept the affiliate links in reviews/best-ofs but got rid of the sidebars it would work. If I've read a positive review I'm going to want to check current pricing.

I'd pay too. I did send an email at the beginning of the week enquirying whether there is a way to make a voluntary payment.

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mylesrants [514 posts] 4 weeks ago
1 like

I like the site as is. 

The adverts are income.

As always in life or the internet. If you dont like it....click away, move on.