NaturalNews Network: Marketing, Mind-Games & Pyramid Schemes, Oh, My!
“To respect our readers, the NaturalNews Network refuses to engage in pop-up ads, pop-under ads, interstitial ads, spamming practices or other annoying content. We focus on providing empowering content for intelligent readers.”
Since the way alt-med alt-groups provide (or don’t provide) information is a topic near and dear to my heart, I’d like to take a closer look at NaturalNews.com’s claims, and how they “empower” their readers.
First, let’s look at their claims about advertising. It’s true, I have not encountered pop-ups, pop-unders, interstitial, or spam advertising during my journeys through NaturalNews. They apparently do consider their readers intelligent enough to recognize such obvious types of advertising when they see it.
In reality, though, the site seems to be one great, big advertorial for products and services created and marketed by founder Mike Adams (soi-disant “Health Ranger.”)
For example, the sidebar on article pages (like this one) contain ads for a bewildering assortment of products, such as Mike Adams’ “Valley of Longevity Shampoo” ($39.95/36 oz.), and his FREE [emphasis original] report “The Five Best Anti-Viral Products to Beat Influenza, Swine Flu, Bird Flu and SARS.”
Adams claims that he derives no profit from the products or companies he recommends , but at the bottom of each page of the “FREE report,” is an ad for two products (“How to Prepare for and Survive Any Pandemic,” $39.00 for 3 CDs and a checklist, and “Swine Flu Advanced Preparedness Course,” $29.00 for 4 CDs), sold by Truth Publishing International, Ltd., a company owned by NaturalNews.com. Its corporate address is in Taiwan, and its “editor-in-chief” is none other than Mike Adams, and it is the publisher of his many books.
Oddly, some of the ads have no apparent connection to “natural” living—for example, Adams’ free “special report” on “How to Build Your Financial Safety Net.” It (along with several other articles on the site) contains dire warnings about life after the Global Financial Bloodbath, along with important “tips” about minimizing expenses, creating “low overhead” and creating independent income streams.
Ah, now some of the sidebar ads begin to make sense. Like Adams’ “FREE Report: 20 Tips, Tricks and Traps on Buying Land in Vilcabamba, Ecuador.” (Comes with a FREE subscription to the Health Ranger’s “real estate announcement list.”)
Adams claims to have no financial stake in Vilcabamba real estate sales, however he does, out of the goodness of his heart, recommend a local realtor, and personally conducts tours (for which he gets paid.) His photo tours of the area constantly mention how very cheap the living is. And how he runs his empire almost entirely online.
His latest post (as of this writing) on NaturalNews.com was a July 4 article titled “Celebrating Independence from the U.S. Food Supply (in Vilcabamba, Ecuador),” all about how the bounty of his year-round organic garden—made possible, of course, by the temperate climes of Ecuador– frees him from the clutches of “Big Food.”
Is it any surprise that Adams provides (many annoying pages later) a magic formula to help you do the same? Or that it involves providing goods and services similar to those touted by NaturalNews.com? Or that his “Seven Profitable Solutions” for doing it all happen to involve tactics used at NaturalNews.com? Or that near the end of the article, he includes information on joining an affiliate company so that you can “start earning revenues immediately when other people purchase health products or enroll from your website.” Or that the top of each page contains an ad that reads:
“Advertisement: ”Which revenue opportunity is the Health Ranger going to announce in November?
“MYSTERY COMPANY? Click here to find out about an upcoming health-related network marketing company Adams will be announcing in November… (and WHY he’s not allowed to announce it yet on the home page…)”
Anyone else smell a potential pyramid scheme?
Presumably, Adams is referring to his “NaturalNews Moxxor Team.” He has already created a marketing company to help others sell Moxxor, a “natural “miracle” product. Despite proponents’ protests that it can’t be a pyramid scheme because it involves the sales of an actual product (some pyramid schemes do, in fact, include product sales), the description rings all kinds of alarm bells:
“How much does it cost to be involved?
“It costs $100 /month to be an active distributor. For that $100 per month, you get two bottles of the green-lipped mussel supplements. This is all that’s required to be “active” in the organization. To get paid, however, you need one more thing… (see next question)
What do I have to do to get paid?
“To quality for team commissions, which are based on a binary tree structure, you simply have to personally enroll two people, and that’s it! From there, you will quality for anywhere from 5% to 15% of your “pay leg,” which is based on the Group Volume (GV) of all the people beneath you in your Binary Tree….
“How do I quality for the 15% commission on my Pay Leg?
It’s easy: You can buy the “Pro Pak” up front (about $850 plus shipping), and instantly qualify for 15% Team Commissions on your Pay Leg. The Pro Pak (which is entirely optional) gets you 18 bottles of the product and allows you to “fast track” your earnings. This makes a lot of sense if you’re joining early in the growth of the company. If you don’t buy the Pro Pak, you can buy a Starter Pak for $295 (qualifies you for 5% commissions) or a Biz Pak for $575 (qualifies you for 10% commissions). You can also skip all the packs and earn your way to those qualification levels by building up your Group Volume (see the official compensation plan for details).”
BUT WAIT, HERE’S THE BEST PART:
I clicked on one of the links on food production in Adams’ July 4 article (so shoot me, I was curious). There were many links to stories about the “plummeting” of global food production, and it will not surprise anyone who has read this far that the sidebar contains numerous ads for Mike Adams’ books.
The one that almost made my irony meter explode?
“Spam Filters for Your Brain: How to navigate through the lies, hype and mind games of the food, drug and cosmetics industries
($27.95/PDF, $29.95/soft-cover, $35.95/both formats)
“Marketers and advertisers know how to exploit you. They’ve developed and refined tools of manipulation that can actually influence your behavior without you knowing it. Through decades of focus group experiments on consumers and their children, they have decoded the decision making process that governs us all.
“They may not know you personally, but they know what makes you tick….
“Spam Filters for Your Brain gives you back total control. Until you learn this information, you are a walking target for Big Business. Right now, people are being manipulated and exploited into buying these high-profit (and health compromising) products without even knowing they’re being manipulated!
The only way to stop being unwittingly exploited by clever marketers is to learn this insider information that advertisers and marketers don’t want you to know. “ [Emphases original]
Mike Adams obviously has a keen sense of humor. Unfortunately, the joke is on the army of credulous souls looking for “The Answer” to their health, financial and emotional problems.
- 1. Adams may not directly profit from the products and companies he recommends, but somebody does. For example, one of the sites he recommends sells a mind-boggling array of products at prices that are not exactly “chump change” (although nobody but serious chumps would buy them), including –I kid you not– “World’s Most Potent and Concentrated Velvet Deer Antler Extract (apparently an Ancient Chinese Secret) for only $149.97 per bottle (containing 30 recommended doses) or $129.97/bottle for a monthly auto-ship.