Wanna be an annoying, sleazy marketer? HERE’S HOW!

by Joe Merkel

First off, let me start by saying this is just my own opinion. Despite that, however, I think most people will agree with me here.  On the other hand, if you practice any of these marketing tactics, don’t immediately assume I’m bashing you. As with anything in this grand adventure known as life, there are exceptions to these.

Before I continue with my opinions, I asked Jon Bradshaw, Co-Founder of TinyTorch.com, to give an example of a marketing technique he finds annoying:

“Something that really bothers me is when reputable sites do not filter out these awful ads. Recently, I found myself clicking on an advertisement featuring a list of marketing best practices. Instead of seeing an itemized list, the content was displayed in a carousel. On the page there was only one obvious ‘next’ button which actually turned out to be part of another ad. Not only does it make me angry with the ad, but it also makes me angry with the site it was sponsored on.”

With that said, let’s dive right in.

1. Force conversions down people’s throats.

I find this to be most prevalent with online IQ tests. As someone who’s constantly questioning his intelligence (and who has a relatively low budget), I semi-frequently find myself searching  online for free IQ tests. Oh, by the way, don’t try it! They’re all lies! My scores have ranged from 108 to 140 on the ones that actually give free results. 

But that’s just it. 97% percent of these so-called “free IQ tests” will NOT give you free results. Sure, they’ll let you take the IQ test– all 200 sections of it; but when you finally reach the end, BOOM! “See your results! Enter your card information below!”

Are you serious!? I just spent ninety minutes on this test, and you’re going to tell me I have to pay for my results!? Gee, I wish I would’ve known that before I wasted the last HOUR AND A HALF OF MY DAY!!! But I can’t be too mad; perhaps my IQ really isn’t all that high. After all, I was dumb enough to fall for this BS (more than once, I’m embarrassed to admit).

2. Use ads that take up the entire screen.

Seriously! Do it! Because that won’t put a bad taste for whatever you’re selling in anyone’s mouth!




Sorry, I’m choking on my own sarcasm.

Remember the late 90′s/early 00′s? Remember what every internet user back then seemed to endlessly complain about? If not, let me refresh your memory:


“Annoying” is a related category when you search for pop up ads on Google. I rest my case.

The screen-hogging abominations I’m referring to are the same thing.  I can’t think of a single time where these kinds of ads have gotten me, or anyone I know, to convert. So, advertisers, just… don’t.

3. Spam the masses with geo-targeted, template-based ads.

I’m kind of a meme nerd. As such, one of my go-to websites to get my meme fix is trolino.com. But as much as I love their memes, I equally hate their ads. One reason for this is because of the blatant click bait-esque, spammy load of bogus ads they host– ads that say something like “This new law in Beaverton has lawyers in an uproar!”

Of course, it only says this when you’re in Beaverton. But travel south 1,000+ miles and suddenly that same law goes into effect in San Diego too! Wow! What a coincidence!

Unfortunately, I can’t find images of the specific ads I’m referring to but luckily their campaigns seem to have ended. However, they were replaced by something arguably worse, which leads to my next tip on annoying marketing.

4. Gross your audience out!

You see this? Here’s another one from trolino.

Maybe it’s time to find a different meme site…

Do you know what this is? I sure don’t, but it disgusts me. I never want to see it again. I might just be weird on this one but *barf*. NEXT!

5. Require a credit/debit card BEFORE the “free trial’”.

This one is about as sleazy as it gets and don’t you dare try to tell me otherwise. 100% of the time (real statistic), companies that do this are relying on the forgetfulness of those who sign up in order to profit (*cough* Netflix *cough*).

Somewhere in the fine print of their T&C, there is ALWAYS something guaranteeing the potential customer-to-be will be charged if they don’t cancel by the end of the trial period (*cough* Amazon Prime *cough*). Hell, half the time when they cancel during the trial, they’ll still get charged and presented with a giant fiasco just to get their money back! Automatic credit card charges are Lucifer’s greatest form of entertainment.

What annoying / sleazy practices do you see everywhere, and wish would stop?

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.