Popular Advertising Scams Online

Joe Weinlick
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With billions of people browsing the Internet each day, it's not a huge surprise that online advertising can be beneficial to both the person selling the ad space and the advertiser. However, advertising scams are everywhere online, so it's important that you're cautious when you're looking for ad space. Unfortunately, it isn't easy to spot elaborate online scams, so you many need to hire an Internet security company to verify websites before you purchase ad space for clients.

Large companies usually want to advertise on websites that get a lot of traffic. So, one of the most popular advertising scams on the Internet involves a website owner faking the amount of traffic the website gets each month. In fact, the WallStreetJournal.com recently reported that the website Songsrpeople.com has been scamming advertisers such as State Farm, Amazon, and Target into purchasing ad space by using fake traffic.

According to Internet security experts, tens of thousands of dubious websites like these are popping up all over the Web. The websites use botnets—a collection of Internet-connected programs communicating with other similar programs—to make it appear as if the website is receiving a lot of traffic. Unfortunately, advertising scams like these can be hard to track because botnets can mimic the behavior of online consumers—clicking from one site to another, watching videos, pausing at ads, and even placing items in online shopping carts.

Some advertising scams involve hackers swapping an advertisement that is supposed to be displayed with one that will generate money for the hackers. Basically, hackers would sign up for online affiliate accounts that pay them money when people click on the ads they place. Then, they use a complex system to replace ads on popular websites with their own ads. So, an ad for Pepsi that appears at the top of ESPN.com could end up being an ad for a timeshare. Online scams such as these have also affected advertisements that appear on search engine results pages. If this happens, your client isn't actually reaping the benefits of the ad space that was paid for. Fortunately, you can analyze the amount of traffic the client's website regularly gets from an advertisement. So, if the traffic decreases for no apparent reason, the ad may have been tampered with.

While most people are aware of how online advertising scams affect consumers—paying for items never received, storing credit card information to be used fraudulently later, and enticing people to purchase products that don't work—many people aren't aware of advertising scams that affect businesses. As a professional in the advertising industry, it's up to you to be cautious and research websites before you purchase ad space for clients. Doing so will help you avoid some of the most common scams targeting advertisers.


(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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