March 26, 2015

Will Advertising Corruption Scandal Explode? (Part 1)

Two years ago we wrote, "Not only are online advertisers getting screwed by crooks, some of them are also getting screwed by their agencies."

This is suddenly a hot topic.

For over two years, the Crack Investigative Team here at The Ad Contrarian Worldwide Headquarters has been reporting on corruption and fraud in advertising -- particularly in the online ad industry.

In June of 2013, we said,  
"This is the biggest advertising story of the decade, and it's being buried."
(A bibliography of some TAC writing on this story appears below today's post.)

Billions of advertisers' dollars have been stolen, wasted, and misappropriated while everyone who should have been acting responsibly turned a blind eye. There was just too much money at stake.

Meanwhile, pathetically naive and impressionable marketers continue to throw good money after bad down the online advertising toilet.
- They don't know what they're buying
- They don't know who they're buying it from
- They don't know what they're getting
- They don't know how much they're paying
If the victims weren't so fucking dumb, it would be sad. But, honestly, I can't help but be amused.

There are several types of fraud being perpetrated on online advertisers, here are a few of the major ones:
1. Phony traffic - Bot-nets generate billions of phony visits to websites daily, which advertisers pay for.
2. Phony clicks - Likewise
3. Phony websites - Sometimes called "spoofing," phony websites pretend they're real websites and sell imaginary ad space to knuckleheads
4. Invisible ads - Euphemistically called "unviewable," these are ads that "technically" appear but are invisible.
5. Agency kickbacks - Suddenly, the most topical corruption issue. 
The wonderful thing about all these scams is that everybody thinks it's the other guy who's the idiot. Everyone assures their clients and their management that it's the other guy being screwed and "we have processes in place to protect ourselves."

Yeah, right.

Meanwhile the crooks and sleazebags are laughing all the way to the bank.

In the past ten days, the trade press has finally come out of its inexplicable torpor and has started to report on the some of the issues, particularly the agency kickback issue. Will this explode into a full-fledged scandal?

Some thoughts on that will appear here on Monday.

Some pieces on this subject -
Online Advertisers Getting Hosed 4/29/13
Time To Clean Out The Stables 5/2/13
Online Ad Criminals 9/16/13
Alarming Online Sleaze Factor 10/16/13
The Scam What Am 11/14/13
Epic Screwing Of Online Advertisers 2/27/14
NYTimes: 57% Of Online Video Ads Unviewable 5/6/14
Ad Industry Is The Web's Lapdog 5/19/14
Woeful Weenies Of Traditional Media 6/2/14
Amazing Tale Of Online Fraud 10/15/14
Digital Clown Act In Big Trouble 10/30/14
What Every CEO Needs To Know 12/8/14
Agencies Cheating Clients, Says Former Mediacom CEO. No Shit,Says Me. 3/9/15
The Difference Between Waste And Fraud 1/14/15


Cecil B. DeMille said...

If advertising is indeed the rattling of a stick in a swill pail, then online advertising is plumbing the depths of a chamber pot with a straw.

Lewis LaLanne - NoteTakingNerd said...

I want a T-Shirt with this scrawled across it in Courier font. . .

"If the victims weren't so fucking dumb, it would be sad. But, honestly, I can't help but be amused." ~Bob Hoffman

I would wear this Tee at marketing seminars I attended and the quote could serve as a conversation starter.

Next, I want it on the top of my business cards so that it reinforces the point that I'm in the business of accountable advertising and marketing.