August 27, 2014

Misleading Ads

By Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

Consumers hate them. Regulators are cracking down. Publishers regularly make complaints about them. And BuzzCity will not accept them on our mobile network. 

Misleading ads – banners imitating operating systems, virus threats, chat messages and falsely promise free stuff – have been a bane to consumers since the early days of internet advertising.

Yet some companies – oblivious to consumer and publisher concerns - continue to market in this manner thanks to a mistaken belief that click-throughs are sufficient to generate sales.

What companies actually need to do is to measure quality engagements.

What happens after mobile surfers arrive at your landing page? Do they proceed to find out more about your products and interact with your brand? Do they continue to the checkout counter? Or do they immediately bail and go back to what they were doing before? 

The Right Environment for Mobile Ads

BuzzCity is serious about creating a healthy environment for mobile advertising.

To do this, we monitor content across The BuzzCity Network - both publisher sites and ads.

First, we use fraud detection technology to ensure that we only admit high-quality traffic into our network, only real users click through and advertisers are not billed for bot-based shenanigans.

Second, we've created a set of brandsafe channels so that advertisers can confidently target the type of content that makes the most sense for them. Several of these channels - like News & Information, Entertainment & Lifestyle and Mobile Portals - are manually curated.

And finally, we manually vet every ad distributed by the network.

No Misleading Advertising

BuzzCity recently updated its guidelines on the types of ads that will be rejected.

Ads must not impersonate the user interface of a phone or application. This means no fake system warnings or app updates . . .

. . . and no fake chat or download notifications

Promises of fake free benefits are a no-go too.

An ad for a WhatsApp wallpaper is fine:

but banners for false updates are not.

Basically, if an ad is meant to trick a consumer, we don't want it on our network.

A Note to Freemium Content Producers

In some places, the tide has also turned against ads promoting freemium content. In the UK recently, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has criticised Electronic Arts (EA) and banned an ad for the game Dungeon Keeper because it showed an image of a well-developed dungeon – which would be hard to amass without in-app purchases – while stating that the game is free.

ASA warned EA that future ads should make clear “the limitations of free gameplay and role of in-app purchasing with regard to speeding up gameplay”.

While BuzzCity supports the freemium business model, we encourage game-makers and other content producers to be careful that the copy in their ads does not irritate consumers or run afoul of the rules.

Mobile advertising is one of the best ways to reach and interact with consumers. Let's continue to create ads that are informative, useful and entertaining.

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