The high road and the low road
Why spend $10,000 to do a photo shoot for a magazine? After all, all your profit is in the ads.
Sometimes it seems like people who build websites and magazines that take the high road aren't paying any attention at all to conversion and revenue and manipulation.
The low road of media ought to work. After all, it's filled with tricks that have been tested and shown to work. On a website, a pop up, a popunder, a cloaked IP address, a persistent window that won't go away, loud headlines and calls to action... all of these things should convert.
We saw the same thing with magazines over the last few decades. You can fill a magazine with come ons, get rich quick claims and guaranteed results... and yet Conde Nast (home of The New Yorker) and other high road publications made more money and had happier advertisers...
The reason manipulative media doesn't work as well as you might expect is that people have a choice. Sure, on a per thousand basis, the manipulative tricks you might decide to use seem to work, but people don't have to show up in the first place. Generally, the people who do show up for these low road attempts at manipulation aren't the right people to begin with.
I see this every day at Squidoo, blogs and other user generated pages. People who build pages that are generous, filled with useful information and generally focused on teaching people do extremely well. They get a lot of traffic, a ton of clickthroughs and earn money every day. And yet, countless businesses in search of a quick buck show up with obviously selfish scams involving Forex and affiliate-Bank and 'exclusive' offers. And they fail, again and again. They fail because people who have a choice don't participate.
Data is your friend. And the data shows that the top blogs, top lenses, top magazines... they all follow the high road. If you need to be manipulative or non-transparent to make a buck, time to rethink the plan.