Atlantis has officially kicked off the marketing push its team promised with a 57 second long commercial advertising its services. The video is immediately reminiscent of something a Silicon Valley start up might produce, a comparison that the executives at Atlantis will relish. Loera and Vladimir, the co-founders of the black market, run the business and site with the clear goal of being perceived as a legitimate start-up.
Atlantis, which recently passed $500,000 in revenue, is aiming to win new customers and take a few away from the online drug market’s top dog, Silk Road.
It’s a bit early to gauge the reaction to the video yet as it has less than 300 views. However, The Verge posted the video and Gawker’s Adrian Chen tweeted about it, so it’ll get at least some of the attention that Atlantis founders Loera and Vladimir seek.
The Verge’s Adrianna Jeffries wrote:
Isn’t it a bit indiscreet for Atlantis to advertise its illegal service so brazenly (and flout YouTube’s user guidelines in the process)? Silk Road, by contrast, does not even advertise its address; it must be shared person-to-person or found by following links from deep-web sites such as The Hidden Wiki or other guides to the digital underground.
Silk Road doesn’t outright pay for for commercials but that’s because it doesn’t have to. SR has been featured in major media around the world. It runs a much, much higher trade volume than Atlantis does on any given drug (vendors on both have reported 30 times higher sales on SR at least). Finding links to Silk Road does not require a person-to-person connection or even going to The Hidden Wiki. Google does the trick, as does surfing the web at any number of popular sites including reddit.
Atlantis is paying for commercials because the number one complaint of Atlantis users is that there are not enough customers.
A recent prominent thread on the Atlantis forums featured numerous vendors wondering how the operation could attract more traffic.
“i dont even have any damn feedback on SR yet,” wrote vendor MissBliss, “and ALREADY with listings only 48 hours old on the road, i’ve sold just about 2/3 as many pills vs what i’ve sold on atlantis for over a month with a priority listing & glowing feedback… cant wait till these SR sales get reviewed and more buyers over there become comfortable with me.. expecting shit to really take off in the next few days or week.”
Gawker’s Adrian Chen wondered, “How is this not a trap” on Twitter.
Silk Road is many, many times more visible than Atlantis, whose team sees themselves as much more technically adept than the team behind SR (as they said in this interview). If SR can be globally notorious and welcome the entire world, the thinking at Atlantis goes, so can we. Atlantis may well end up being a trap — who can say at this point? — but this commercial is only an indication of ambition, not necessarily honeypotting.
I’ve reached out to the team behind Atlantis for further comment, expect an update when I hear back.