Being Faked Out Is A Real Problem – How To Make Sure Your Advertising Isn’t

There is a trend within the online realm that’s spilling into traditional media, and it has major consequences for your advertising – fake news.

It’s already influenced an election and has now scammed other advertisers.  By setting up fake websites, advertisers spent nearly $5 million a day for video ads that were never watched!  This fraud started in September and has not stopped. The sites that were duped are not your run-of-mill organizations.  They include Fox News, CBS Sports, The Wall Street Journal and everyone’s favorite – Facebook.

What’s an advertiser to do?  Demand accountability from your agency!  Insist that your ads are not displayed in a manner that will be associated with fake news.  Check your headlines and content.  That’s a giveaway.

  1. Fake Ads are cropping up as well.  If there is a sensationalistic story about Tiger Woods tearing his ACL, don’t click on the ad!  Chances are its fake.  Go to Google and other sources to verify it.  If it’s fake, report them to the publisher of the site.
  2. Fake Reviews are cropping up all over the internet including Amazon.  In fact, Amazon sued over 1,000 people last year for selling fake positive reviews of products.  Some companies are compensating customers for leaving positive reviews which is an FTC violation.  If a vendor pitches this concept – run away!  Then report them.  Combat fake reviews by getting legitimate reviews to your site from real customers. 
  3. Fake Websites with fake customers that cost you thousands.  Leave it to the evil Russian empire to come up with not only fake websites but fake human traffic that surfs the web, clicks on content, moves the mouse and has a real IP address to fool the ads.  Bot traffic isn’t fake.  It’s real and a real problem for advertisers.  Watch your analytics for unusual spikes in traffic and clicks that are clustered over a short time period. 
  4. Fake Bills can look very real.  This tactic is as old as carbon paper but it’s still effective.  Be diligent about the bills and invoices that you pay – presumably online.  Fabricated emails, fake agreements or expiring URL’s are just a few of the schemes used by fraudulent companies. 
  5. Fake News is not as direct but is more damaging to your brand.  The biggest publishers like Facebook and Google have been working very hard to write algorithms to stop Fake news from being displayed and consumed.  But they are bad at detecting it. One issue is defining it.  At what point do they decide it’s not truthful  -30%, 40% 50%?  And what about editorials?  Those are just opinions.  Add click-bait on top of it and you can see this being a slippery slope for the publishers to censor. 

Fake news, fake websites, fake ads and fake reviews are going to be an issue that will be with us for a long time.  Choose a marketing company you can trust when deciding to promote your brand.  Not only will it affect your image, but it will affect your balance sheet.

Next up? Fake locations.