Covert advertising is a form of advertising in movies or tv-shows that doesn’t need disclosure during or near the product placement, but works under the premise that it’s a natural part of the work. Mentioning the advertiser in the credits is advisable, but not mandatory. This makes Covert Advertising -if done correctly- quite hard to spot for the movie critics, but this also makes it a very efficient way of advertising.
Buying links is like covert advertising. If you do it the right way, it adds value to both the movie and your brand. If you do it the wrong way, it not only makes the movie look bad (themovie can get bad reviews from the critics as well), but it might also harm your brand.
Have you ever been watching a movie and saw a bad actor drinking from a soda can with the brand pointing towards the camera in a very unnatural way? Did that make you think “OMG, that’s frikkin’ bad. Why didn’t they make a regular ad in stead of this unnatural crap”? Well, that was like a bad paid text link.
Have you ever seen a movie where the main character was drinking a soda with the brand pointing to the camera and thought “Hey, I’d like a drink just like that as well!”? That was like a good paid text link.
Make sure that you don’t make your covert ads too obvious. Although Google has been busy penalizing multiple directories (which used questionable tactics), their Paid Link Detector is still far from perfect. If they can’t even figure out how to spot websites that buy thousands of text links (or sell them), buying links as a link marketing strategy will still help you to achieve top rankings. But keep in mind that there are no companies out there that only rely on covert advertising, it can only be successful on the long term if you mix it up with other tactics.