When an advertiser partners with an ad publisher, it is looking for engagement, interest, and hopefully a conversion. An advertiser certainly is not looking for a publisher that misrepresents its brand or others to consumers.
Unfortunately, these types of deceptive advertising practices are on the rise as more people are online and on mobile devices. Digital ad publishers are actively placing imposter ads on behalf of their clients or unbeknownst to their clients to poach leads from competitors and boost their own personal profits.
Major brands are not immune to this. In fact, a recent CSO Online article reported that even cell phone giant T-Mobile was caught as a named customer of a company, Flash Networks, that engages in injected ads. The ad abuse caught T-Mobile by surprise, and they denied that injected ads were part of their strategy.
The majority of the time, clients are in the dark that practices like imposter and injected ads are even taking place, increasing the likelihood that fraudulent activity will continue, making legitimate digital advertising tactics much less impactful and effective for businesses.
One recent study from Forensiq highlights the rising increase of mobile ad fraud, estimating that the annual cost of fraud to advertisers is more than $857 million. To avoid having your marketing dollars fall into this category, look for digital ad publishers following these guidelines to ensure that their marketing initiatives are driving quality leads, not trouble from the law:
1. Stay current on industry regulations. When you invest in digital advertising, you want it to bring in customers – not legal trouble. Imposter ads and trademark infringement will ultimately attract the attention of the FTC. Partnering with an ad publisher who is committed to staying on the right side of the law can only benefit your brand over the long term.
2. Be aware of the origin of calls generated by publishers. Imposter ads are happening to brands large and small. In addition to imposter ads, at Fraud Posse we also see fake URLs and trademark infringement of major national and international brands on a daily basis. Digital ad fraud is rampant and you don’t want to work with a publisher that’s engaging in these practices, as it impacts your brand as well.
3. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Imposter ads can deliver big numbers quickly, which is why ad publishers us them. But these deceptive practices are hardly a guarantee – at best, they’re targeting consumers who were originally seeking out another business or service, and at worst they can get you involved with publishing networks on the wrong side of the law.
4. They keep you informed. Look for a digital ad publisher who is strategic and transparent about how they are going to reach your target audience. If you suspect that your ads are being published in a manner that isn’t in keeping with industry standards, make sure to address that with your publisher or do some sleuthing of your own. The quality of the leads brought in by your ads, and the reputation of your business is at stake.
5. Watch out for call laundering schemes. Call launderers operate call centers that purchase calls from imposter ads, reset the consumer’s expectations and then warm transfer the call to an advertiser that is unaware of the call’s origin. Advertisers that purchase calls from call launderers may be on the hook for trademark infringement even though they didn’t place the ad.
Ultimately, your brand will take the hit for a deceitful publisher. Make sure you take the time to understand who you are working with and how they will approach your business. If an ad publisher is guaranteeing results and recommending imposter ads and unethical practices, it’s better to look elsewhere than to risk legal ramifications. The decision will be beneficial to your lead gen practices – and your state of mind.