Commentary

Ad Injection Could Be The New Ad Fraud

Mobile operators’ threat to block online ads in Europe this week, reported last week, was startling. The assumption was that, jealous of the pie they’d been missing, operators would hold Google up for ransom.

This could be the start of a new wave of advertising, one where ads are removed and new ones injected in place.

For centuries advertising has been a vertical industry. The New York Times ( to my knowledge) never owned forests to pulp, but did own content creation and curation, printing and distribution — and was thus guaranteed to hold onto all advertising revenue and control. Radio stations, TV stations, cinema, and outdoor were all industries where ads’ route to market was pretty simple.

A cursory glance at a LUNAscape shows how complex and horizontalized digital forms of advertising have become. A single ad may now involve 10 or more companies, all extracting their share of revenue, all putting themselves in the path.

I wrote a piece a few months ago saying that the power and money lie at the interface between people and services, not in their delivery. How long is it before advertising realizes this?

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Facebook Instant is about taking other sites’ content, hosting it and then monetizing that layer. at this moment in time Facebook offer brands the chance for them to add their data and sell inventory and charge a mere 30% .

Ad injection is already a big deal on all other sites — you know, the bit of the Internet outside Facebook. Google studies showed more than 50,000 browser extensions and more than 34,000 software applications that took control of users’ browsers and injected ads. The study found that about 5.5% of IP addresses accessed Google sites that included injected ads. And already 100,000 plus  people have complained about them so far this year.

If mobile operators are able to block ads with their technology, what’s to stop them from injecting new inventory in their place (Verizon did just buy AOL) and monetizing that layer more powerfully with better customer and location data?

And where would this trend end? My Panasonic Smart TV is connected to the Internet, a technology like TV Ad Blocker allows a customer to block ads on linear TV and serve other content — so what’s to stop Samsung or another TV maker from placing its own ads in place of TV content? Once again, ads could be targeted better, offer richer calls to action and be served in real time.

From connected cars to virtual reality, to smart mirrors to wearables, our lives are about to become more screen-based than ever. The opportunities to present images to us have never been greater, but the routes to get messages to us will become more aggressively fought over.

So now’s the time to start thinking in a new way about advertising. Forget the pipes that serve us ads — they are just boring digital pipes that fade into the background. Thinks of new ways for messages to cross screens, new calls to action, and new, more intimate ways to reach people. And if you’re part of a complex LUNA chart, maybe now’s the time to start realizing that one day soon you could be disintermediated.

3 comments about "Ad Injection Could Be The New Ad Fraud".
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  1. Kevin Lee from Didit, May 21, 2015 at 3:59 p.m.

    It's actually the LUMAScape chart, not Luna ;-)  During the years of Gator/Claria and WhenU there were similar issues around conquest advertising and ad injection.  Litigation, threat of litigation and regulation derailed those players.  The current situation is more complex. Many of the players are based in foreign countries even though they infect US computers.
    As to disintermediation, its all about adding value.  If you add value your position in the chart is more solid. 

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 21, 2015 at 4:16 p.m.

    More customer data and locations is the last thing any one of us needs. We don't need to be spied upon more. 

  3. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, May 22, 2015 at 10:11 a.m.

    In the hypothetical connected TV example, which party is the victim of fraud? Who is being harmed? The viewer, whose TV displays an ad that is from a source other than a broadcast TV station? there may be no real harm there, so no damages. The station that sold ad time based on industry standard viewer ratings, which now have to factor in a "blocking" measurement of some still to be defined type? The advertiser that paid for more viewers than are actually being delivered? Perhaps, but how substantial is the harm? We don't have any idea yet. So perhaps fraud is too harsh a term to use when explaining this.

    This won't be an issue till connected TV has much more market share, but it seems to indicate that the marketplace will see new metrics, definitions, and techniques to find and reach these new viewers - yet another business opportunity in the programmatic realm.

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