Education, Tech, Tips & Techniques

Brands lie, here’s how to tell if an Ad is Fake

Again, don’t believe everything you read.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Aug 16, 2022

Hopefully you are aware of the algorithms in social media that exist to get you to buy a product. Targeted marketing ads from brands are the culprits. This method of fine-tuning offerings is a real skill, showing you a listing of products that you want, similar products, and products you’re most likely to buy based on what you are searching.


For the most part, we’d like to believe that all ads that are on reputable sites have been superbly vetted through a system to make sure they are legit, but this isn’t always a case. So, what happens if you get an ad for something you don’t need? Or worse, the ad you fall for is actually fake? Unfortunately, if you fall for a fake ad, you could fall victim to a financial scam or something unsafe.


What is PPC?

Essentially, when you Google something, you will see a wide offering of results from brands with content that is hopefully related to your query. Underneath this will be ads that were paid for by companies to be placed near the top of the list — this is called pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.


Why is it dangerous?

The issue with PPC is that Google does not require proof from companies to prove that the business is legit. This could be troublesome because brands or scammers can place higher than actual established entities, leading people to believe it has the most important and relevant information. Just think of the high volume of people who search items like weight loss medication and could be receiving the wrong information.


Because scams are going rampant, Google announced its strategy to improve advertising transparency via its identity verification platform. Established during 2018, it requires paid ad owners to need more than a Gmail account to purchase ads.


Why isn’t fake advert monitoring a thing with these companies, you might ask? Could it be that they are only in it for the money? Are there too many to research? Is there a staffing problem? Why won’t these big companies and social media platforms monitor fake adverts and content? Should the government get involved? And if there are people that feel these are harmful, how do we restore their trust in online ads? These are all questions we have, and will continue to investigate when more information is available to us.


In the meantime, to stop getting fake ads delivered to you, you can start by turning off ad targeting on your Facebook account, Instagram account, and every other account you receive them on.


Especially Instagram, where Reels can now be turned into ads. And here’s some tips on how to avoid believing fake news.


Photo via Gabriel Hongsdusit