Is online advertising a massive scam?

Consumers believe the adtech industry is dangerous, untrustworthy, and incompetent. Ad fraud is one of the largest frauds in the history of the world. Nobody knows the exact extent of ad fraud, but several reputable studies peg it at over $ 60 billion. The World Federation of Advertisers says that by 2025 advertising fraud may be the second largest source of criminal income on the planet after drug trafficking. Bob Hoffman’s new book, Adscam, tells it like it is. Here are some excerpts.

Everywhere we go on the web, we are being followed. Everything we do on the web is cataloged. This is called tracking. Tracking is just a pleasanter word for surveillance . It has been reported that by the time an average child is thirteen years old, the adtech industry has 72,000,000 data points on that child.

Facebook would like us to believe that it is simply a bulletin board where people are free to post their beliefs and that this is healthy for society. The Wall Street Journal report revealed the truth. It described how these platforms direct people into extremist groups of all stripes. Surveillance marketing is little more than ten years old but has already helped drive a wedge of intolerance into democratic societies.

We hear that tracking is necessary because consumers want more relevant advertising. Nonsense! In 2021 Apple changed its operating system to give its iPhone and iPad users the choice of being tracked or not. Eighty percent of people in the U.S . chose not to be tracked.

Pew Research Center studied consumer beliefs about online data collection. They reported that 81 % of the public say that “the potential risks they face because of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits.” 79 % say they are “concerned about how companies use their data.” 79 % of Americans say “they are not too or not at all confident that companies will admit mistakes and take.

Consumers believe the adtech industry is dangerous, untrustworthy, and incompetent. They are right.

Most ad fraud falls into three buckets — fraudulent audiences, websccording to Hewlett Packard Enterprises, ad fraud has the highest potential for profitability and the lowest barrier to entry. According to Advertising Age magazine and Spider Labs, “… an estimated 20 % off ( online ) ad budgets globally ( are ) being snatched by fraudsters.” If they are correct, in 2022, about $ 70 billion will be lost to online ad fraud.

A famous case involves Chase bank. They were advertising on 400,000 sites every month. Imagine analyzing the audience and clicking activities on 400,000 sites to understand what is happening. On a hunch, they reduced the number of monthly sites to 5,000 ( a reduction of almost 99 % ) and saw no difference in performance. An astounding number of the places they were buying programmatically were worthless.

Half of programmatic ad money is being siphoned off by the adtech industry before it reaches publishers . About 1 / 3 of the dollars “were completely untraceable.” In some cases, the untraceable costs were as high as 83 %. This means the money evaporated into the adtech black box without a trace. – Only 12 % of the ad dollars were completely transparent and traceable. An astounding 88 % of dollars could not be traced from end to end.

The programmatic advertising ecosystem exposes advertisers to double jeopardy. First is the 50 % of your investment you surrender to intermediaries, then there are the other flavors of online danger — viewability.

Oh, and about Facebook.

When the history of this era is written , one of the key themes will be the remarkable success that social media manipulators had on influencing and exacerbating the divisions in democratic societies 

Bob Hoffman, Adscam

Facebook’s terms of service and privacy policies are longer than the U.S . Constitution. Facebook would like us to believe that it is simply a bulletin board where people are free to post their beliefs and that this is healthy for society. The Wall Street Journal report revealed the truth. It described how these platforms direct people into extremist groups of all stripes. Surveillance marketing is little more than ten years old, but it has already helped drive a wedge of intolerance into democratic societies.

A report by Reveal and The Markup found that “Facebook is collecting ultra-sensitive personal data about abortion seekers and enabling antiabortion organizations to use that data as a tool to target and influence people online.

A reporter for the AP did a test. They wanted to see how Facebook’s “moderation” policies would handle posts about abortion, guns, and drugs. First, the AP posted this on Facebook: “If you send me your address, I will mail you abortion pills . Then they posted the same post but substituted “a gun” for abortion pills. “If you send me your address, I will mail you a gun.” Then they posted the same but substituted “weed” for abortion pills. “If you send me your address, I will mail you weed.” The post about abortion pills was removed within one minute. The posts about guns and weed remained up, untouched.

Facebook is too powerful to be run by a jerk like Mark Zuckerberg. He has simultaneously shown himself to be utterly inadequate in handling the responsibilities of managing an organization with the power and influence of Facebook. Facebook is ruled by an individual miles over his head and has no sense of the damage he is doing to society.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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