blog: Don Marti


perfection is achieved

10 March 2019

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The perfect targeted advertising business model has been discovered. I have seen it. Maybe you have seen it too.

Here's how it works.

  1. Identify users likely to be enraged by a political issue. Start a PAC with a name related to that issue. Also start an LLC.

  2. Run rage-provoking targeted ads about your issue, with a call to action to sign a petition or complete a survey.

  3. Upsell a fraction of the people to make a donation to your political action committee. Use a Dark Pattern to get some people to consent to having their credit cards billed monthly.

  4. Actually deliver the petitions or surveys or whatever, and actually make a few PAC donations to politicians to get on their donor lists. But keep most of the money for yourself by paying it to your LLC (from step 1).

It's data-driven. It's sticky. It's social. It's got everything that a surveillance marketing business needs, and nothing it doesn't. No manufacturing. No support. Not even any drop-shipping. Just register a PAC and an LLC and start running ads and social media.

If you don't get these perfect ads, yay for you. Your eyeballs are probably too expensive on the ad impressions market, or you don't seem like the kind of person who would get enraged about any issue that they have a landing page for.

One reason that this model works is because people made so much noise about the Citizens United decision and shadowy political groups. So the people who are paying into these things probably never even feel ripped off—they feel that's just how things work now, and they're getting away with working the system.

Update 20 May 2020: Exposing the Dorr Brother Scams: How do the Dorr Brothers do it? This is a similar business model. Not surprised that a lot of people are trying new models in this area.

Update 20 Aug 2020: How not to do it: Steve Bannon arrested and charged with fraud - Axios

Update 12 Sep 2021: Copy edit, add Dark Patterns link.

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