If you haven’t yet found time to read BadMen: How Advertising Went From A Minor Annoyance To A Major Menace by Bob Hoffman—his “frightening and highly entertaining look into the hidden, corrupt, and dangerous world of online advertising”—may I suggest an audio preview on the topic, care of Radio New Zealand?
“There is a huge criminal underworld that knows how to fake online traffic and fake online clicks and as a result there is a multi-billion dollar fraud happening in the online advertising industry,” Hoffman says.
Last year in the U.S. online ad fraud was estimated at $7.2 billion. This year the estimate is $16.4 billion—more than twice what it was one year ago. Clearly, this criminal enterprise is expanding like a “cancer” on the industry.
Hoffman says, “The Association of National Advertisers estimate that about 25 percent of the money an advertiser spends actually gets to the consumer, 75 percent disappears paying middlemen, in fraud, in unviewable ads—it’s really a mess.”
This is an area where self-policing is not a workable idea. The FBI and other investigators will most likely need to crack this case wide open.