Tuesday, January 31, 2023

CNET’s AI-powered SEO Money Machine

Mia Sato and James Vincent:

CNET is the subject of a swirling controversy around the use of AI in publishing, and it’s Jaffe’s team that’s been at the center of it all. Last week, Futurism reported that the website had been quietly publishing articles written using artificial intelligence tools. Over 70 articles have appeared with the byline “CNET Money Staff” since November, but an editorial note about a robot generating those stories was only visible if readers did a little clicking around.


Daily mortgage rate stories might seem out of place on CNET, slotted between MacBook reviews and tech news. But for CNET parent company Red Ventures, this SEO-friendly content is the point.


This type of SEO farming can be massively lucrative. Digital marketers have built an entireindustry on top of credit card affiliate links, from which they then earn a generous profit. Various affiliate industry sites estimate the bounty for a credit card signup to be around $250 each. A 2021 New York Timesstory on Red Ventures pegged it even higher, at up to $900 per card.

Via Nick Heer:

It seems to me there are actually two controversies here. The first is the publication of miserable articles generated by some computer program, but these are all bland crappy articles that nobody should be reading. The second concern is, I think, much worse: these are financial articles often presented as advice — on a technology news website, no less — which are designed to exploit search engines to get extraordinary kickbacks.


Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Leave a Comment