Search Marketing WTF Friday

Dear ClassesUSA, Please fire your Marketing Director. Thanks.

March 5, 2010

I’m absolutely disgusted to see what Experian (owner of Lower My Bills and their ridiculous dancing ads) has done to ClassesUSA since buying them out. They have managed to take a decent educational directory and turn it into one big horse and pony show, all the while ruining it’s credibility and also the quality of lead flow. I have worked with ClassesUSA on a client level for the past 2 years, and have seen a transformation into what can only be the unnecessary demise of a once great money making portal.

Not only have I seen an ungodly amount of the following poorly composed ads, but I have YET to find any internet advertising of theirs that is appropriate and/or relevant for their target audience.

Case in point, the set of dancing ads:

Classesusa dancing santa ad

I'm not sure what Santa has to do with going to school...

dancing woman classesusa ad

This one the woman gets caught on video dancing

Don’t forget the tatoo ad:

classesusa tatoo ad

Oh yea, totally relevant

This guy reminds me of Zach Morris. He is probably thumbs upping that MILF in the corner that is supposed to see this ad:

Zach Morris Facebook Classesusa ad

He looks like he says Dude a lot

The grumpy old man ad:

classesUSA grumpy constipated old man

I'm not sure if he's angry or constipated?

And my favorite #fail of ALL TIME, the shirtless Jesus Obama ad (speaks for itself doesn’t it?)

shirtless jesus obama go back to school classesusa ad

Caveman or Jesus? You tell me...

I guess that leaves me with one last question… Would firing the Director of Marketing for Experian or ClassesUSA do any good, or is this train wreck too late to stop?

I think I’ll just sit back and watch it burn… I mean really, WTF ClassesUSA?

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  • Reply casse no-i March 5, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Sweet topless obama-j! You forgot the constipated old man!!

    Wait. Have you even *seen* the one with the constipated old man?

    …Oh I have to find it for you now.

    Seriously, ClassesUSA … W. T. F?!

  • Reply Alan Bleiweiss March 5, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    OMG Christa – when I see ads like this, I think WTF every time. These kind of ads fit right up there with the crappy diet ads (you know – the one where the cartoon woman goes from fat to thin over and over), or the teeth cleaning ads that are excruciatingly distracting, or some of the stupidest insurance pop-ups that look like a 3rd grader made them or that they’re targeting 3rd graders.

    Some marketing people should be shot. In the head. Repeatedly.

  • Reply Carrie March 6, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    They should also fire a certain rep and their entire accounting department. Ridiculous.

  • Reply Daniel T March 31, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    I saw a dancing caveman/jesus today in Yahoo mail. It has come full circle and the internets are about to implode.

  • Reply clarkj April 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I am so glad others are annoyed by this as well. Misery loves company, ya know.

  • Reply Ian April 5, 2010 at 10:46 am

    You are right. These are terrible. I am pretty sure that Emily could make ads that would get more click through.

  • Reply Dawn April 5, 2010 at 10:50 am

    HAHA!! I thought maybe I was the only one that noticed these and thought WTF? Seriously?! Who puts this stuff on the web? I’m assuming they randonly assign a picture to the ad, but seriously – get some normal pictures! I love the one with the constipated looking old mom with the title “single moms get 10,000 to go back to school!” HAHA WTF?

  • Reply john n April 12, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    To all those complaining about the poor marketing job done on these ads… have you ever tested their actual performance? perhaps they are actually HIGHLY profitable for the advertisers. Most likely these are all affiliate-generated ads not done directly by ClassesUSA themselves.

    Great article on why “ugly” ads actually work:

    • Reply Christa Watson April 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm

      Actually John, I’m glad you asked! I DO happen to know how these ads in fact perform since I am (or my company is) a client of ClassesUSA. While you are looking at the CTR of the affiliate in terms of actual clicks and leads/conversions, you do not have insight into the quality of leads these types of ads are bringing. Ultimately, the affiliate gets paid on each conversion, therefore ugly ads may in fact = more money for them… in the short term. Long term, if the end customer sees a drop in quality or massive amounts of unqualified leads, they will either A) demand the directory to turn off this source or B) stop using this directory source altogether.

      In my case, we have significantly reduced, if not altogether shut off ClassesUSA lead flow over the past 3 years due to such poorly qualified leads. So what was once an opportunity is no longer available. It has forced us, with good reason, to focus on internal search efforts to make sure we are representing our Universities the way they wish to be, and not with ridiculous, albeit conversion crazy ads.

  • Reply john n April 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    that makes sense that the lead quality would be junk. affiliates will usually get thrown off an offer for the bad traffic, but I guess can make some quick money in the short term with some “shock” ads before the advertiser evaluates the quality.

    also, obama jesus ad is really funny.

  • Reply Weird Stock Photography | Photography for the Awesome-minded! August 6, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    […] You think this guy look familiar? He is! You may have seen him in the horrible Lower My Bills advertising […]

  • Reply Benji Leal May 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

    As a man I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I ABSOLUTELY hate their bouncing woman ads!!! What the heck?!?

  • Reply Keith May 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    They even photo-shopped a random middle-aged woman’s face onto the cartoon body and now they took it and made a cartoon version of that and put it back on. Just f’ing bizarre. I almost want to see what would happen if they did a TV ad, but I’d be too scared to watch. If only it was possible for anyone who clicked on those on purpose to be shot in the face.

  • Reply Wendell June 8, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    When ever I see one of these adds, I think my computer is getting spammed. Its true that the ads don’t make any damn sence, and if they want to be serious, they should at least make one that a person would like instead of this crap. I just scanned my computer for malware because of these!

  • Reply Ryan June 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    As a longtime marketer in this industry (on the lead gen side), I appreciate this post. WTF indeed, though I think you might be overlooking or misinterpreting some things in the evaluation of these ads. 1) They’re not affiliate-generated. These ads are straight from ClassesUSA (John). 2) The purchase (or lead) intent of a consumer who actually clicks on one of these craptastic ads when it appears entirely consumer-irrelevant at the ad level has to be quite high after the user comes to a landing page that actually explains and details the information request. If I’m a betting man (and I am), these ads are among the highest-converting sources (lead to enroll) that ClassesUSA utilizes. If your overall quality has been dropping from ClassesUSA, it’s not from these ads but from other sources of traffic. My guess is you’re falling victim to the obnoxious, albeit notorious level of lead source blending that happens in this industry – – or you know, “transparency”. You’re being sold one thing and being delivered something else.

    To your original point though, yes ClassesUSA, WTF? Even if these ads are effective, they piss off the even slightly-sophisticated Web user. As a consumer, I hate that they work for you. As a marketer, I respect you. Damnit.

  • Reply Sean June 27, 2011 at 12:38 am

    I’ll tell you one ClassesUSA ad that I hate with a passion. It’s the one with a girl dressed in superhero like clothing. And it has this photo shopped black girl’s head on it and she just had the most creepy looking, shit eating grin on her face.

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