But for the video series, he only focused on the lion footage. Since his shop is loaded with a handful of products, his next step is to get people to see the goods. First, he creates an Instagram account with Lions Jewel that will post some pictures with a link to his shop. Then he taps on an Instagram account that publishes images of nature and brokers a deal under $ 20 that brings several hundred people to his website through Lions Jewel’s Instagram account.

When they get to the site there is a countdown clock to let them know they are running out of time to receive the free bracelet offer. This is of course not true. But it creates the “feeling of scarcity,” as Ganon says, that leads to shopping. This clock is just another app for Shopify, Hurrify. Ganon claims it is supposed to increase conversions by 2 to 3 percent.

While shopping this type of website, an occasional screen will appear that says, “Alexis in Oakland just bought the windproof business coat from West Louis (TM) Business-Man.” Ganon and the appmakers say these popups provide “social proof” which in turn is used to increase conversions. One would expect such an app to show actual purchases, and it can. It can also show “custom notifications” so you can create fake customers who are supposed to be buying things. Pick out some cool sounding names, pick out some cool places (London, Paris, Mexico City, Oakland) and combine them into robo-social evidence.

Given the myriad of behavioral tricks aimed against the average internet user, some of them will take up the free lion bracelet offer. But for those who don’t by just visiting his website, they have been flagged on the Facebook system because Ganon installed a standard Facebook tracking pixel. This means that Ganon can now re-target those who visited but left without buying anything on Facebook. And he spends a lot of time designing and testing ads that will bring them back for purchase.

This is not unusual in digital marketing. In fact, it is a perfectly common practice. But busy so bare, it shows the weirdness of our current trading model. I like lions so I follow an Instagram account that posts pictures of them, they post an ad, so I go to a website and now I get ads following me on the internet promoting a lion bracelet. It’s enough to make you long for the days when you go to the mall or buy things from a catalog.

Ganon says he also blogs for his websites. Perhaps he cobbled together “fun facts about lions” for his lion shop by looking up the most popular lion content on the site, Buzzsumo. Once you get to that page, he could realign you.

This is a primary purpose of “content marketing”. For example, a company might get someone to write some blog posts to their CTO on cloud storage topics that only people in the industry might be interested in. Because of this hyperspecificity, anyone who ends up on these pages is likely a potential customer. Even if the prose is illegible, it doesn’t matter when you stare at the words. The content has already served its purpose. If you got to the page while logged in to Facebook, you have assigned yourself to a custom audience that can be targeted to the Facebook backend. This is a fundamental function of the system: it works for every segment of the population, from chief executive officers to white supremacists to lion lovers.