Internet Advertising as we know it is totally broken - it really has become the Wild Wild West and a danger to consumers and advertisers alike. In terms of the Advertisers - they are having to fend off spoofers, hackers and bot-nets and paid-for-traffic and all manner of dirty tricks being used to hike up Advertising Viewing Figures for financial gain. All this fake extra traffic is costing site owners more in terms of heavier server load, and all those ad-views supposedly being served can be as much as 50% fake!
Several so-called hackers and international cartels have been identified and brought to order recently - where they were using various means to spoof and inflate ad traffic. And we on the development side of things are aware of just how smart some of these bots are becoming. As AI continues to evolve - we will reach a level where AI will be near enough indistinguishable from actual real human input. Interfaces after all have no biological component really - these are digital inputs which can be and are being increasingly cleverly manipulated.
So Advertisers are having to deal with wholly erroneous stats, and having to foot a considerable bill for fake views and clicks. Over on the consumer side things are much worse still, and it’s still largely down to privacy leaking and illicit tracking. A recent TED talk showed how easy it was to intercept mobile positional trackers used by advertisers - meaning that users can be geographically stalked which is of course more than a little worrying.
Advertisers tend to be wholly irresponsible too in how they handle customer data - selling off sensitive data to everyone and anyone (Facebook anyone?). We still have the malware side of ads - which are used to embed dangerous code onto browsers and devices - to read a variety of transactional input and throughput including of course passwords and financial data and references.
The Programmatic Advertising movement really needs to be shut down - as in fully automating the submission process there has been a huge reduction in the degree of due diligence and in putting in measures to prevent malevolent code being uploaded by such means. Even if the core advertising code is not malevolent, corrupt parties can still abuse the output of those ads - by profiling, stalking and exploiting the end users in various ways.
For all these reasons and more I always engage an adblocker or two on every device, and never ever click on and ad willingly - and never will do intentionally. The only times I do hit an ad is inadvertently while scrolling on a mobile phone and accidentally triggering a click on one of the embedded ad formats - which really should be banned on mobile devices as they are all too easy to click on inadvertently while all you’re trying to do is scroll down the screen / page.
I’ve long been advocating a move to more responsible advertising, which as I see it is Native Advertising, Endorsement and Product Placement - if done correctly - those are all honest pursuits and not devised to trick anyone into clicking inadvertently or taking advantage of some technological loop-hole.
In the absence of a greater move to Native Advertising - the various digital mediums seriously need to tighten down on their regulations and stop abusing consumer trust. GDPR is really only a step in the right direction, and even then has not been properly enforced to date. Internet Advertising is meanwhile still very much totally out of control. And for all its rhetoric and guides on best behaviour, the Internet Advertising Bureau is having very little impact on curtailing the excesses of most of its members.
The whole current digital display advertising medium is fake, false, flawed and above all - dangerous to both sides of the experience. I fear that if something significant does not happen soon there won’t be much of it left to salvage. Advertisers need to be more responsible and more accountable and they can’t continue to exploit consumers in such a woeful manner - there are already plenty of life lessons witnessed, one of those will evolve into a critical class action suit, and it will be game over for everyone involved.