Thanks to Bryce for clarifying comments on my earlier post how the Columbia House ad appears at the top of Blogdex. Apparently, there are a number of weblogs hosted at Tripod and this ad appears on these sites. The unfortunate side effect of text advertising, he writes:
There’s no manipulation in this
instance, what happened is a natural side-effect of text advertisements.
In a healthier advertising climate it likely would have escaped notice
— Tripod would be serving a variety of text ads instead of just one.
He also suggested I look at the Googlebomb approach to search engine (google) ranking manipulation.