Everything you read isn't a lie, it's a MyVoucherCodes press release

21 February 2011

Bitterwallet - MyVoucherCodes spamIt started when we looked into the numbers behind a story on the RAC's website, which led to a search through Google News.

There we found the original source of the RAC story - a survey about loose change left in cars - and dozens upon dozens of similar press releases, all published by the same source.

Together with their PR company, MyVoucherCodes is publishing an insane number of press releases about an insane number of surveys they've alleged to have carried out. For a voucher discount business, they're spending an incredible amount of time conducting polls and questionnaires about everything from pocket money to PINs.

This is they list of surveys we found - all apparently published in the past four weeks alone. We've linked to the original release where possible:

25th January - Study reveals children dictate the contents of the shopping trolley

25th January - Two fifths sneak a peek at other peoples’ PINs

26th January - 1 in 10 Considering Private Rubbish Collection Services

27th January - Bribery alone costs parents £240 a year on average

27th January - We can name takeaway staff - but not neighbours

27th January - Poll reveals January as month when most take out credit

28th January - Quarter of young women feel mothers dress too young

31st January - Third of parents ‘don’t trust’ babysitters

1st February - A fifth would be more inclined to shop locally if they could pay on card

4th February - Should you rent for life?

4th February - 1 in 10 fooled by spam financial e-mails

4th February - Average Briton Spends 1 Month Queuing in Supermarkets in Lifetime

4th February - Women stay in unhappy relationships to not be single on Valentine's Day

4th February - Study reveals, smart phones mostly used for ‘playing games’

10th February - Brits reveal woolly knowledge of RAM

18th February - £109 million stashed in vehicles across Great Britain

17 surveys published in less than four weeks, nearly one per working day on average. Looking back through Google News and the websites of press release aggregators, it doesn't seem like unusual activity for MyVoucherCodes, but any newsroom hack will tell you there aren't many companies churning out a press release per day. As is often the case, some press releases go ignored while others attract attention from the national media and other popular websites.

One by-product of the tactic is to ramp up MyVoucherCodes Google ranking; while SEO consultants charge thousands to optimise a website's copy and metadata, one of the easiest ways is to publish content that may be of interest to other websites, and hope they'll return the favour by linking to the source.

When Google Search determines where a website should appear in search results, one of the key factors is how many other sites link to it. The higher the ranking of these sites, the higher the ranking of any sites they link to. Paying third party websites for links to improve search results is tantamount to cheating as far as Google is concerned, as American chain JC Penney recently discovered. Spamming publications with editorial content on a near-daily basis is perfectly acceptable; some sites link back to MyVoucherCodes, but nearly all quote directly credit the press release, so job done in terms of publicity.

More worrying is that a company like MyVoucherCodes can become a content farm for lazy or time-pressured journalists, ever eager to cut and paste the surveys into their articles - no questions asked. There's no indication as to how rigorous or scientific the surveys are, since no third party polling organisation is ever credited; MyVoucherCodes is seemingly responsible for surveying thousands of people every day.

And that's just one-company. Imagine how much of the news you read is nothing of the sort, but instead the product and agenda of companies and their PR agencies - all of it unsubstantiated by anyone other than the company that has everything to gain by its publication, and all of it passed off as objective news to an unsuspecting public. Well, mostly unsuspecting.

Disclosure: Bitterwallet is part of the HUKD family of blogs; HUKD is considered by MyVoucherCodes owner Markco Media to be a competitor

11 comments

  • bowdeni
    You should give them a link for their effort.
  • Paddy
    To be fair, everytime I see surveys like these, I automatically categorise them as being a) complete and utter bollox which are not scientifically accurate and b) solely there to boost the publicity of said companies/websites. I rate them in the same category as tabloid journalism..... I am cynical though.
  • Dick
    The one coming out tomorrow is that 98% of bitterwallet readers wank while reading bitterwallet. I responded to the survey 50 times. And I lied once.
  • zeddy
    Whereas Quidco isn't competitive in relation to TopCashBack.
  • pickles
    what's that got to do with anything?
  • angry s.
    More to the point, has anyone, ever, in the history of the universe, managed to unsubscribe from the myvouchercunts e-mail.? God I hate these people.
  • hippy
    maybe they only done one survey but had all those questions on them about how much money you had on your car or do you sneak a peek at someone standing beside you in the toilets. But in reality im like paddy, they are all bollocks to me and i know these surveys are just a tool they use to try and sell me something i dont want. im currently doing a survey about the amount of charity workers knocking on my door over the past few months and asking them how much they earn an hour and if they think they make more of a bonus than a pc world employee. The results are quite frankly scary, made up but scary none the less
  • DeejaySF
    They're bollocks, their codes never work anyway.
  • GrumpyBum
    Incidentally... there's a great news story at the moment, which will result in a mobile network on the tube. Hooray! Only, the top article for this story on Google news is called "Three quarters don't want mobile network on London Underground", which appears in THE TELEGRAPH. A quick check of what's going on tells us that it's a survey carried out by "GoodMobilePhones.co.uk". The Telegraph article even ends with a statement from the site owner: "Anyone who thinks that their mobile network may be too expensive can find the best deal for them at GoodMobilePhones.co.uk, where we compare the lifetime costs of mobile phones in order to save you money." Journalists are *********. Enjoy.
  • Ten B.
    [...] Everything you read isn’t a lie, it’s a MyVoucherCodes press release [...]
  • Anatomy P.
    [...] What’s more, MyVoucherCodes is a company I’ve seen put out dodgy PR surveys in the past, and a few moments on Google found further criticism of their PR work, including this: [...]

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