OPENING: Facebook won’t check political ads for accuracy, Google is collecting healthcare data on millions and Apple knows everything about you if you use an iPhone. How will consumers respond?
Americans are so addicted to the Internet that the revelations around privacy probably won’t have any effect. Facebook has violated the trust of users repeatedly but it hasn’t lead to an exodus of accounts. The truth is that the Internet has become such a big part of our lives that we can’t do without it.
What about online advertising?
The global digital ad market is expected to be valued at $225 billion by 2020, so it is no wonder fraudsters are trying to steal a piece of the pie. Advertisers will lose a projected $5.8 billion to $42 billion to fraudsters this year alone. Ad fraud’s prevalence is largely due to two factors: The lack of regulation and the sheer complexity and volume of online advertising. Both of these issues make it easy for fraudsters to execute and conceal their acts. Banks may process $1 million worth of credit card fraud requests in a day, but ad fraud detectors can face up to 20,000 requests every second.
The use of ad blockers has been on the rise in recent years, fueled by web user frustration at the range of noisy, interruptive and deceptive promotions and offers which appear online.
According to research, around 30% of all internet users now use ad blockers, which can be problematic for businesses trying to reach their audiences, and tech platforms looking to demonstrate the value of their ad tools.
Online ads do best when they part of an integrated approach to advertising and marketers need to design ads to deliver messages without users clicking through to a site. Online advertising can also be very effective in generating brand awareness for new products. But don’t fall in the “programmatic ad” trap. My experience has shown that online ad metrics increase dramatically when they are placed on sites that align with demographics and psychographics.
Zuckerberg is partially right in his refusal to review and censor some political ads. People can’t take any online information as fact anymore. This means they have to do more research which, in turn, leads to the overgrown jungle of online misinformation.
Facebook is promising to clean up some pages like those with bad health information but there is still a lot of bad advice that could lead to bad healthcare decisions.
Where do we go from here?
With all kinds of venture capital money still flowing into tech start-ups, I could see the need for a website that fact checks online news and health information. Will consumers pay for it or should we tell them “surf the web at your own risk?”. That’s a billion-dollar question but we first need to decide if the Internet is just a bulletin board where anyone can post anything or a regulated media industry responsible for content.