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"Which?" have been in the news this week (reaching the BBC news homepage even), criticising Black Friday Deals, yet here they are promoting a tweet referencing some of the brands they were criticising.

Why might they do that? (a short thread...)
Firstly - for context - this was the news article: bbc.co.uk/news/business-…

"Black Friday sales offer few real discounts, says Which?"

"don't fall for the pressure tactics around Black Friday." it says, yet today they are promoting tweets about Black Friday Deals.
The study is flawed. eg:

1. They deem something not a "real deal" if it was the same price within 6 mths before/after Black Friday.
2. They only looked at 83 products.
3. It doesn't seem to take into account email only discount codes, etc, that are common on Black Friday.
4. It ignores that for many stores Black Friday is about good discounts on *lots* of items, rather than massive discounts on a few.
5. Products that stay online for a full 12 months are less likely to be seasonal things that get big 'end of life' deals around Black Friday.
But this is beside the point: "Which?" are pushing Black Friday themselves at the same time as criticising it & retailers they promote.

A reason they do that is: "Which?" make money from Black Friday. They are actually a Black Friday competitor of the retailers they criticise.
Here's an example: This is a Google Search result for Which, focussing on Black Friday Deals. That's quite a lucrative term to try to rank for, and one that all those retailers they reference will also be trying to rank for.
Here's some of the content of that page.

Note the repetitive titles of the links there. "Best Black Friday deals on mobile phones", "Best Black Friday Dyson vacuum cleaner deals".

They're like that because Which want those pages to rank in Google for those phrases.
(None of this is very sophisticated, and it could be done more effectively, nonetheless...)

Once you're through to those pages, they link to deals on the retailers' sites.

At a glance, it looks like those go straight to the retailers (note the URL at the foot of the page here)
But if you look a little more closely at the code, you see often they redirect through 'digidip.net' (image 1)

Here's what 'digidip' do (image 2).

Ie, many of these links are 'affiliate' links - Which get paid by those retailers if you click through them & buy.
If you scroll right to the foot of one of those Which posts, it tells you so.


1. Consumers search google for 'black friday deals' related terms.
2. Click through to the Which site.
3. Click from there to a retailer.
4. Buy something.
5. The retailer rewards Which with £.
In other words:

Which are consciously trying to rank for phrases like "Black Friday Deals", "Black Friday Deals Currys", "Black Friday Deals Amazon".

At the same time they sew seeds of doubt whether those retailers offer "real deals", & positioning themselves as arbiters.
They rank okayish for various Black Friday terms in Google (including legacy content like 'black friday 2018 date' which, to be honest, they could do better by updating some of the old articles that rank for those)
And, of course, getting coverage across lots of news sites means they also pick up links and citations, which help further in their quest to rank for 'Black Friday' related terms in Google.

1. Which are criticising retailers over Black Friday.
2. Which themselves gain revenue from Black Friday.
3. Which deliberately aim to rank in search engines for Black Friday related terms.
4. News articles criticising retailers are one part of that.
5. In doing that, Which essentially sew seeds of doubt in the honesty of those retailers, at the same time as competing directly with them in Google search, and at the same time as taking money from them for promoting their deals.
No particular judgement here, and I'm sure there's a heavy mix of altruism in here as well as self-interest, but I thought worth pointing out how it works & that there is some sort of benefit to Which in the whole thing, sometimes at the expense of retailers.
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