MarketInvoice using competitor’s domain names as keywords

Marketinvoice has launched a new concept in invoice finance but having had a look at their website I’m not too keen on what I saw there.

My regular readers will know that I have a bee in my bonnet about what I consider to be unethical activities on the internet and often wonder whether unethical marketing and promotion is coupled with unethical behaviour in other aspects of a company’s activities.

There are a couple of factoring brokers who have web pages designed to attract searchers looking for specific factoring companies which I consider to be unethical but there again many factoring brokers will do just about anything to earn a buck anyway.

Yesterday whilst searching on Google for “rbs invoice finance” I noticed that the third entry down the page was from MarketInvoice and curious to see why an invoice finance company would have a web page covering one of their competitors I clicked on the link.

It would seem that MarketInvoice have pages and pages in a section of their website laughingly titled “Learning Centre.” Each page is devoted to one of their competitors and is heavily keyword linked and they include a number of real gems, two of which I have cut and pasted below having first removed the extensive keyword linking:-

This is wrongABN AMRO Commercial Finance
Originally the company was known as Venture Capital and has been part of ABN AMRO, thesecond largest bank in the Netherlands, since 1992

IGF Invoice Finance
Headquartered in Paddock Wood, Kent, with offices in London and Leeds, IGF Invoice Finance are a company that offers flexible finance solutions for businesses. They are single invoice finance specialists and offer a number of financial products including selective invoice discounting and factoring.

For the benefit of anyone from outside of the industry who might be reading this ABM AMRO were never called Venture Capital and IGF Invoice Finance are not single invoice finance specialists.

In addition to each of the factoring companies having their own page there is another page where summaries of each of the lucky 11 recipient’s pages appear although it does seem that the wording is identical.

This webpage is divided into two section, the first headed “Bank invoice finance and factoring” with the sub heading “Primarily this is because all factoring facilities’ funding comes from the same capital providers, the commercial finance divisions of the major high street banks.”

The listing for High Street banks commences with the aforementioned ABM AMRO but try as hard as I can but I still haven’t managed to find a branch on any high street near me.

The second section covering independent banks and factoring companies has the interesting sub heading:-

“Fundamentally there is some competition on service between the independents; however, once a company is signed up and committed to an 18 month facility, there are significant switching costs, and the factor effectively holds a monopoly over the business (the debenture entered into prevents any other funding without the factory’s prior written consent).”

The two comments that I find interesting are firstly the crafty suggestion that companies commit to an 18 month facility which is most certainly not true with the majority of factoring companies that I deal with and secondly that “the debenture entered into prevents any other funding without the factory’s prior written consent” which apart from the laughable typo is true but makes me very nervous about their whole business model if they feel that they can buy and sell trade debts without the security of a debenture.

As I started off by saying, one can expect unethical behaviour by the type of factoring brokers that don’t have ethics anyway but this is the first instance of unethical marketing by an invoice finance company and the lack of ethics in their internet marketing coupled by the elementary mistakes that they have made lead me to the conclusion that MarketInvoice is one company that I won’t be dealing with.

 

5 thoughts on “MarketInvoice using competitor’s domain names as keywords

  1. Hi there,

    just dropping a quick response as the Head of Communications here at MarketInvoice. First off, I’d like to thank you for pointing out some minor errors on our website; we’ve only put our Learning Guide online recently, and it’s very much a work in progress. As you’ve noted, we’ve made some quick corrections.

    We decided to do the learning guide because about 60% of the businesses who come to us have never used (or even heard of) factoring before; we’re well aware there are a multitude of options. It seemed to be a good piece of online content that would be useful to an SME audience.

    Many of our clients are not suitable for whole turnover invoice finance; equally, many business who come to us are simply too big for us to handle at the moment. In fact, we often refer companies to, and work alongside traditional factoring companies, and in this context providing information about them doesn’t feel unethical at all.

    We freely admit the learning guide is good for SEO; however, it will never displace the owner of the keyword in Organic search. I’m sorry you think what we’re doing regarding keywords is unethical; to us seems no more unethical than buying a billboard across the street from a competitor’s ad. It’s a big market; it seems fair to attempt to compete. We see ourselves are helping to grow the market for factoring as a whole.

    Obviously, we can agree to disagree.

    Secondly, I’d like to explain our attitude to debentures. Our capital advances come from a network of professional investors (hedge funds, family offices & high net worth individuals); we have strict tests before anyone can invest through our platform. Equally, we have a complex algorithm & checking process which measures the risk, verifies invoices and assesses whether a seller should be allowed to put their invoices on the platform.

    We don’t have any retail investors; these are investors who are very good at gauging exotic risks; they are very much going in with their eyes open. It may be that you look at the lack of a debenture & think that represents an unacceptable risk for the investor, but we are not forcing these people to put their money through us into small businesses. The ability to invest across multiple invoices with multiple debtor-seller relationships provides a good way to balance risk internally within a portfolio, and of course, no-one is investing all their capital with us.

    We look at debentures very much from the SME perspective; owner-operators do not want to put their home & the financial security of their families at risk. If that’s a niche other people in the industry don’t want to deal with, is it wrong for us to attempt to fill the void?

    Equally, in terms of the length of lock in of factoring contracts, our figure of an 18 month lock in comes from the numerous SMEs who we have dealt with; about 40% of whom are emerging from an existing factoring line unhappy. Maybe it is we only see the people who are unhappy with the terms of traditional factoring, but we’ve seen hundreds of factoring agreements in the last 18 months; obviously they vary tremendously but anywhere between 12-18 months are the most common terms we see.

    Obviously, as a company which operates without any lock-in, it seems legitimate for us to make the point that our competitors will lock you in & control your whole debt book. I’m happy to discuss this further – either here in the comments or you can email me on w.foxton@marketinvoice.com, or feel free to give me a call on our office number.

    Regards,

    Willard

  2. I don’t see that your analogy is valid at all as you are trying to entice people to your website by keyword linking your competitors’ names and not by promoting your own services, which I think is unethical.

  3. As I said, we shall have to agree to disagree on that one; but I hope I have at least convinced you we are:

    a.) open & honest about what we do and;

    b.) have addressed you concerns about our business model.

  4. This was so interesting to read. Factoring remains an extremely competitive marketplace in the United States as well. We’ve seen all sorts of tricks employed either with aggressive organic SEO tactics and/or aggressive PPC campaigns. When it comes to marketing on the internet, there’s a very fine line between ethical marketing and advertising to get ahead of the competition.

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