From permission marketing fame to cyber greenmail shame, Seth Godin has finally jumped the shark. Spinning it as SEO reputation management is a kind way of describing this scam. What Godin has done is launched Brands in Public. Sounds innocent enough? Hardly.
Godin has put together hundreds of Squidoo pages for companies with major brands. A complimentary service? Done with permission? No. The aggregated content on these pages are determined by Godin/Squidoo…unless your company is willing to pay $400 per month in “greenmail” to control the content and spin it.
“If your brand wants to be in charge of developing this page, it will cost you $400 a month.” – Seth Godin
Because Squidoo pages rank high in the search engines, Godin is essentially telling these companies to fork over the money or have their online reputation interfered with by him because he’s using their keywords/brands to drive a lot of traffic to Squidoo.
From an ethical standpoint, there’s little separating what Godin is doing from cybersquatters who sit on domain names filled with the companies’ brands demanding unreasonable sums. Morally, it is similar to competitors using the companies’ brands as keywords in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to drive traffic elsewhere. The main difference is the dollar amounts involved. Let’s say that 500 companies give in to Godin’s demands and fork over $4800 a year. That’s an additional $2.4 million in revenues generated simply using the “pay me or else” method of marketing.
Is this legal? I’m sure a few of the companies will be discussing the matter with their Internet and trademark attorneys.
Is it ethical? No.
I’m disappointed in Seth Godin.
You should be too.
Recommended Reading: Seth Godin Tries Out Brandjacking