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The Nettle Annual 2006

The Truth About Doublers – A Lesson in Viral
Marketing
In autumn 2004 I began a vendetta against money doubler
programs.
Doublers are a thinly-veiled version of the Ponzi scheme. Probably
illegal and definitely immoral.
It wasn’t just the prevalence of such programs at the time; it was the
attitude of many people towards these online scams. Views ranged
from the “don’t care” variety to “they must be ok, because I’m
making money with them” naivety.
After several frustrating forum discussions, I decided to write a
strongly-worded article, denouncing these programs and exposing
their fraudulent mode of operation. “The Truth About Doublers” was
born.
At this stage I think it’s only fair to admit that my motives were not
entirely altruistic. Although I liked the idea of educating the
uninformed about the dangers of these schemes, I also recognised it
as an opportunity to raise my profile and to experiment with the
concept of viral marketing.
Viral marketing is simply advertising that propagates itself. So
named because of the way in which real-life viruses can reproduce
and spread in rapid order.
There are many forms of viral marketing, the most common being
affiliate programs. Someone purchases a product and then
recommends it to someone else, who recommends it to someone
else, and so on.
The most famous example of viral marketing is arguably that of
Hotmail. Hotmail give away free email accounts and, because each
email sent contains an advert for Hotmail, users of the service are
advertising the service continually.
Essentially, viral marketing is about giving users of a product or a
service an incentive to share it with others. If the incentive is strong
 
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