CNet illuminates the troubled story of SpiralFrog, an online music startup that burned through $26.3 million, and only generating sales of $1.2 million.
They bought traffic with the misguided intention to "get eyeballs fast." Smell like 1999 to anyone? Their traffic maintained a 1:1 correlation to the amount of money they were plowing into affiliate ads.
It's a cautionary tale. Great metrics might help you raise dumb money. But if you're buying those metrics, it's just a house of cards -- possibly worse than a Ponzi scheme. At least in a Ponzi scheme, someone comes out on top (and later, in handcuffs, hopefully).
If you buy traffic, everyone loses.