in Best Practices

Deliberating deluding the public through shady advertising practices is one of the reasons advertising is consistently one of the least respected industries.

False Arrow Image Galleries are Black Hat

One online tactic that I find particularly disturbing is the use of false image gallery arrows. Most meme and viral sites now have image galleries of amusing images to scroll through. The advertising tactic that is being employed on these sites is to add false previous and next arrows above and below the gallery.

The real arrows are tiny or simple text links. The false arrows are large, use the color scheme of the site and easily mistaken for the gallery controls, when in fact, they lead offsite to shady advertisers.

False Arrow Image Galleries are Black Hat

This example above is from the site They are certainly not the only site to use unscrupulous tactics like this. Notice how underplayed the design of the real NEXT button is compared to the false arrow. I’d love to know what the statistics are for how many people fall for this. If high, I’d use the results to wage a campaign against them. They should be illegal.

True, most of the more respected meme sites with galleries shun these tactics (thank you for not participating in this, Buzzfeed. My hat is off to you), but most do and it’s unacceptable.

Make no mistake, this tactic is black hat and it’s every bit as despicable as phishing emails. If you own a site that uses this type of advertising, please consider something else. There are far more legitimate ways to make money. If you find nothing wrong with this, consider me your sworn enemy.

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