Fraudulent Facebook Ads: Epidemic or Under Control?
Category: Social Media
Whether you’ve been in the digital marketing industry for decades or you simply browse your news feed regularly like 77% of the American population, you likely already know that Facebook is a dominant force in online advertising. However, some people, like Justin Seitz, the creator of Hunchly (an investigation tool), think the social media giant might not be doing enough to weed out fraudulent Facebook ads.
There’s a domain name associated with every Facebook ad, and in most cases, that domain displays alongside a photo and caption, which prompts users to click. This is very helpful; it lets viewers know where they are going before they even get there. According to Seitz, individuals have found ways to display prominent, authoritative domain names in fraudulent Facebook ads. This means that while individuals believe they are going to a news site, like CNN.com, they are actually being sent somewhere vastly different.
Another tactic that is growing more and more popular with social media fraudsters involved utilizing apparent celebrity photos and quotes to lure users into clicking. Individuals believe that they are clicking to read an article about a celebrity being “kicked off” of a television show, when realistically, they are viewing a fraudulent Facebook ad for a diet supplement. One such round of these advertisements focuses on Melissa McCarthy and her weight loss with a supplement known as garcinia cambogia.
Why Is This a Problem?
Although it may not seem like a huge deal at first, think about the amount of traffic that legitimate businesses, celebrities, and domains are losing because of these fraudulent Facebook ads. Someone truly thinks they’re visiting a news site, and they end up on a landing page for a completely unrelated product. There are tens or even hundreds of thousands of clicks in just a few minutes’ time, and all of that diverted traffic is paying no attention to real advertisements for products and services.
What Is Facebook Doing?
According to Seitz, Facebook is doing next to nothing to prevent these ads from cropping up. In fact, as an experiment, he created an advertisement for his own product, Hunchly, and told Facebook to use CNN.com as the display URL. Although he was fairly certain his ad would be rejected, it surprisingly went through. Seitz pulled the ad immediately, of course, but he’d managed to prove his point. There is simply not enough ad policing.
What Does the Future Hold?
Facebook recently announced that it would extend its Audience Network to include non-Facebook users, which sets the bar fairly high. There will be much competition to have ads shown to people who play games or utilize other ad-driven apps in the Apple Store or Google Play Store. As such, weeding out fraudulent Facebook ads is even more important than ever before.
Although Facebook has been fairly lax lately when it comes to fraudulent Facebook ads, many legitimate marketers hope that the social media network will put its foot down on black hat marketing techniques. In fact, Seitz says he feels “that the general Facebook user and consumers as a whole are being victimized because of it.”