Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The use of fake news scams is the topic of the year in the media industry. There are many victims in this crime that include advertisers, content distributors and readers who think they are true. Check out this NY Times story on how fake news is created. The IAB at their leadership conference on January 29 revealed that the digital supply chain needs to rid the system of these bad actors. Marc Pritchard, global chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, delivered a keynote at this conference stated the media supply chain as murky at best, and fraudulent at worst, Pritchard said it’s time to get tough and delivered four key actions to the industry for 2017: adopt one viewability standard; implement accredited third-party measurement verification; get transparent agency contracts; and prevent ad fraud.

It all starts with Facebook and Google as they need step up (They are victims too) as these scams targeted their networks because they are the biggest. These digital gamers manipulated the key word search, landing pages and user behavior to break through the content firewalls on these networks. Google has just announced in a blog on January 25, 2017 that they took action against 340 websites and 200 publishers were banned, but in my opinion they only did this because they were caught letting this happen. It is nice that they are cleaning house, but what about the advertisers that paid for the ads that went on these fake sites, should they not get a refund for this criminal behavior, nobody talks about that. Check out this story that says Google is magnifying Fake news

Facebook used to have fact checkers, but they went instead with an algorithm to solve this with the mis-guided belief that technology will do the job better (plus save money). They are trying to automate this process and we all know there are some pretty smart scammers that will find holes in their system eventually. These actions are just a hollow attempt to shield themselves as crooks are always smarter, just ask the malware and virus cybercriminals. They let stuff like this go on until somebody complains and have a more reactionary attitude versus preemptive. Their comeback has always been they are technology companies and not responsible for the content is just some lawyer speak to shield them from civil liability lawsuits.

Emarketer reports that advertisers are starting to realized they have been scammed and we may see a shift of ad dollars into more trustworthy mediums like newspaper, magazine and tv station websites as they are considered premium websites that are not sold on ad networks where fraud is prevalent. This is a problem that plagues programmatic ad networks  as they deliver a lot of junks ads and the advertisers has no control of the media selection in the network. Just ask as the advertisers that showed up on the Breitbart.com website unknowingly. This Globe and Mail story tells it all

The next emerging issue are the use of social media influencers or brand ambassadors as they are, in my opinion, borders on deceptive advertising as they are paid endorsements but appear as arm’s length ones that fools the reader that they real. The Advertising Standards Canada has established guidelines for their use on disclosure that is required in order for a testimonial, endorsement, review or other representation (in any medium) to comply with Clause 7 of the Code.

1  A testimonial, endorsement, review or other representation must disclose any "material connection" between the endorser, reviewer, influencer or person making the representation and the "entity" (as defined in the Code) that makes the product or service available to the endorser, reviewer, influencer or person making the representation, except when that material connection is one that consumers would reasonably expect to exist, such as when a celebrity publicly endorses a product or service.

2  If such a material connection exists, that fact and the nature of the material connection must be clearly and prominently disclosed in close proximity to the representation about the product or service.

At the end of the day the online medium is becoming more untrustworthy and is shooting themselves in the foot and need to clean up their act and step up and be accountable for their actions or lack of action. So I am going to say for all the advertisers that have been scammed. I want a refund for all the times I have been scammed on your website or ad network.

About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at)
reflexmediasales.com or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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