Advertising is so central to the human experience, so ingrained in modern culture, it’s a wonder we can make any shopping decisions at all. Americans reportedly see up to 10,000 adverts per day. And, while your immediate reaction to that figure might be to dismiss it as nonsense, consider the fact that we’ve had to become adept at tuning out most of them just to get on with our lives.
Social media advertising is a relatively new addition to the marketer’s arsenal but it became ubiquitous very quickly. By definition though, it intrudes on our social lives. Facebook took this intrusion to its logical extreme by including adverts between conversations on its popular Messenger app. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise then to learn that advertising on social media is not popular with its users.
Adverts have endured a difficult time in the public consciousness recently, not least because of the growing threat of malvertising online. Malvertising, a portmanteau of ‘malicious’ and ‘advertising’, usually involves pieces of code injected into ad networks that can cause all sorts of problems for websites and their users. Geoedge, a company that protects users against malvertisement, indicates that this type of threat can cause significant damage to a business’ reputation.
The problem of malvertising on social media has prompted calls to force websites to take more responsibility for the activities that take place on their platforms. However, it’s a difficult problem to identify and prevent as it involves vast networks of third-party agencies, all of which can be susceptible to attack. Unfortunately, malvertising often remains hidden until it reaches a website’s visitors.
SurveyMonkey indicates that web users don’t like the way social media ads are presented to them. Depending on their age, 74-78% of adults believe that there are too many adverts on their preferred social media sites, while more than half (63%) are tired of repetitive marketing campaigns. This presents an issue for Facebook, in particular, as on-site advertising is given such a large amount of site real estate.
Marketing company Bango expanded on users’ problems with social media by claiming that ads are often irrelevant because they’re based on what people share rather than what they’re interested in buying. This desire to capture shoppers’ interests sounds good on paper but it relies on a person’s social media persona matching their private one. Not everybody wants their friends to know that they like Dungeons & Dragons, after all.
It perhaps doesn’t help that mobile app developers have turned fakery into an art form on social media, with seemingly no resistance from Facebook or Twitter. While it may be impossible to assess each advert individually, the onus is on large networks to address this kind of deception the moment it manifests. A misleading game ad can easily open the doors for dangerous malvertising once criminals discover websites with their guard down.
Overall, while social networks still feel like a permanent detail of modern life, they’re eroding trust in consumers faster than they’re creating it.