robzilla - 4:23 pm on May 7, 2011 (gmt 0)
I think there might be a hidden agenda behind these articles.
I agree. It looks to me downright shady, in fact. Surely they know that outing paid links will draw the attention of (i.e. links from) the SEO community, but that's just linkbait, I suppose. They must also know, however, that news articles from reputable sources like the New York Times have the ability to quickly (though temporarily) climb up in search rankings. This way, a single article released at the right time can relatively easily compete with, even outrank, brands that spend months preparing for the important traffic surges leading up to these holidays. You might say that's just good strategy, but combined with the outing of supposed paid links of the top competitors for that very same "mother's day flowers" keyphrase, it seems to me more like a smelly kind of piggybacking.