June 29, 2011

Pace Lattin and The Fight Against Interactive Advertising Fraud

In the fight against "bad things" that crooks do, Interactive Advertising Fraud is not generally seen as a serious crime. In fact, it's highly unlikely you'll ever see a Law and Order or CSI episode dedicated to Interactive Advertising fraud. Most people think that it's a fairly innocent crime, and even within the interactive advertising and marketing community its often a fight to get anyone to pay attention to the issues. However, for the last decade as owner of several interactive advertising companies, a publisher of several major publications in the industry, I've dedicated myself to what I can honestly say is a serious issue.

The simple reason that fraud against online advertisers is a real issue is that someone does get hurt. Often the fraud is committed on small businesses, companies that use Google and other engines to advertise. They are often spending their entire budget on a "proven" method. Almost all of the time, these small companies have no idea that they were at all defrauded, but instead think that their marketing just didn't work.  Unfortunately, these companies often can't afford to lose this money, especially in this economy and their businesses survival depends on the results of their marketing campaigns.

Here at RedOrbit, we were the victim of fraud, when we bought advertising for our website and found that the techniques being used were far from legit. RedOrbit was lucky, it quickly found who was involved and took action, bringing a lawsuit against the perpetrator.  We had found that the person involved had hidden his identity from us, had spent time in jail and had recently been arrested again by local police.

Another victim is also the interactive advertising and marketing community in general. As there are more stories in the news about fraud, more and more agencies and advertisers become wary of working with new companies. It stifles innovation in the industry because advertisers assume that only the "older" companies will provide real advertising results and that the new entries into the industry probably are less legit.  Companies have to then spend money on fraud systems, hire consultants and find solutions to often non-issues, before they can even launch their company. While being proactive is responsible, many companies are forced to take extraordinary measures to protect themselves, costing more than they really can afford.

The truth is that fraud is a serious issue in the interactive advertising industry, and continues to plague what we do. The people behind these schemes and scams are crooks of the worst kind, stealing money from both small businesses, established businesses and often from consumers. They infect our computers with viruses, promote their fake products via spam, and then often disappear into the shadows of some backwater town or third-world country.

Pace Lattin is a highly recognized interactive advertising expert who also works as a Compliance Officer for many companies including RedOrbit.