In early November 2020 the Taboola advertising platform promoted an advertisement claiming an old camera found in the deep ocean revealed “horrifying Titanic photos.” Placed by Floor8, it purported to show a black and white photo of Titanic. When you clicked through it was a different title claiming to show what the last days of Titanic were like, and no mention of a camera. Naturally it drew in a lot of people who wondered if it was true or not.
The clever folks at Snopes looked into it and confirmed it was false. Apparently Floor8 took a frame from Cameron’s Titanic movie and altered it to appear black and white. And it was simply a plot to get you to click through a slideshow. You probably have done this without even noticing how clever it is. You are at a website and see something like “You will not believe what the cast of Lost in Space looks like today!” or something similar. The purpose is to grab your attention so that you click through a long slideshow. Advertisers make money on this slideshow clicks, which is why it takes a frustratingly long time to get through them. In the advertising world, it is called advertising arbitrage.
That is a fancy phrase for bait and switch which more accurately says what is going on. You are lured on for one thing but directed to something else. In the retail trade, you advertise a product knowing you do not have it. When a customer asks for it, you say it is out of stock and on backorder for several months. You then direct them to the next best product, which of course is more expensive. This tactic, however, is considered deceitful and fraudulent in many jurisdictions. And will ultimately damage the reputation of the business that practices it. Now in this case there is no actual product they are selling. But they are luring you in promising something that turns out to be false, as in this case. And while there is no product, it is done to generate sales to advertisers. I have no doubt some clever prosecutor may make a case out of it.
Probably the lesson from this is when you see it is a sponsored ad on many news or entertainment sites, to not click through for an endless slideshow that pays advertisers every time you click to the next slide.
No, an ‘Old Camera’ from Titanic Wasn’t Found in ‘Deep Ocean’
Snopes.com, 20 Nov 2020