goodroi - 9:52 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)
As someone who has played with paid links including links on newspaper sites - it is 99% of the time only for Google manipulation. These links usually cost a good bit of money and rarely generate enough sales to come close to covering the cost of the link. They are (or I should say were) a smart investment because you could quickly recover the link cost with the sales from higher Google rankings.
You can put lipstick on a pig but it is still just a pig at the end of the day.
A better investment would have been for more natural link development. Imagine a contest to rewrite the "roses are red, violets are blue" poem and the top 100 poems would have won free Valentine roses. Something like that would have naturally generated publicity, goodwill and backlinks. Of course the backlinks would not have grown as fast or with just the right anchor text but it would have been much less obvious manipulation.