Lies In Advertising

Jared Byerly

I was watching Sheryl Sandberg on the Today Show the morning after the first debate between The Donald and Hillary (Sept. 2016). She wasn’t discussing the debate, but she was offering insight into the growing power and involvement of women in the world of big business and how attitudes are changing. One of the interesting things asked of her by one of the hosts was, “How are things going at Facebook with the false advertising claims?”

This question referred to Sandberg employment at one of the biggest social-media companies in the world and their recent problems with claiming their ads were reaching 1/3 more users than they actually were. She brushed it off with a positive spin and moved on to another topic. She’s good, smart, and anyone would want her on their side.

It made me stop and think though because it was recently discovered that there are more recent stories involving not-so-true(th)-in-advertising realities. One of them involving the Presidential candidates and their use of Twitter.

The Donald is well-known for his use (abuse?) of the Twitter-scape and he’s constantly bragging of how many followers he has (12million!) Hillary, not to be outdone, has also utilized the Twitter universe when it suited her, and likewise, has made claims of huge amounts (9million+) of subscribing fans. The problem is, they are lying. Big surprise there, right?

According to a new article, Twitter-bots are inflating their numbers. Sometimes by a full third. http://mashable.com/2016/09/22/fake-followers-presidential-candidates/?utm_cid=hp-h-32#8zLzIr7Fi5qM

Of course, Trump and Clinton were undoubtedly unaware of the overstatement of followers, but it shows how much inflation of supposed truth is now happening, and accepted in digital marketing. This now has a new name in the cyber- and advertising worlds: Ad Tech Tax. This phenomenon is associated with something referred to as malicious advertising, or “malvertising”, the use of fake ads, fake traffic, and fake analytics. In its worst form, malvertising infects your computer with malware when you click on an ad, and sometimes when you don’t click on an ad.

But it’s this “Ad Tech Tax” that concerns us with the lies of advertising. As Kalkis Research pointed out in their report, “Clickbait and Traffic Laundering: How Ad Tech is Destroying The Web”, “…The Web is turning into a click-bait jungle…Ad dollars are being stolen. Ad efficiency is declining. Traffic laundering is thriving. Bad guys have become experts at gaming as tech metrics and monetizing fake or unwilling visitors.” https://kalkis-research.com/clickbait-and-traffic-laundering-how-ad-tech-is-destroying-the-web

This, in part, explains the rise in ad blockers.

Barrett Golding, in an article on rjionline.org (Reynolds Journalism Institute), wrote of the money being made in this new age of false advertising, “The old 15 percent cut for media agencies has crept up to 55 percent in 2014. In 2015 the creeps took 60 percent.” https://www.rjionline.org/stories/breaking-news-2-when-good-ads-go-bad

As Golding points out by the end of his article, quoting David Ogilvy, the giant of traditional advertising, “Everyone involved has a vested interest in prolonging the myth that all advertising increases sales to some degree. It doesn’t.”

The point being, that while all advertising lies to you about what a product or service will supposedly do for you, it is a rare instance when it follows through. Twitterbots in a Presidential campaign is a perfect example of this, and the only thing you’ve been cheated of is your Democracy.

(read Barretts article: https://www.rjionline.org/stories/breaking-news-2-when-good-ads-go-bad