Mobile Advertising Bad Practices Exposed II

The last time we published a list of bad practices in the mobile advertising industry, it caused quite a flutter. The resulting consequences were bad for some companies indulging in such practices. Although, we won’t like to go into those details, here’s a round up of the Top 5 Mobile Advertising Bad Practices in 20o8.

#1 – Misleading (mostly porn) ads leading to unnecessary clicks

This is number one bad practice in mobile advertising still dominant amongst most players. Networks create a dummy porn Ad link which takes them to another page which contains several set of other actual ads. To add salt to the injury, these ads were put on adult inventory.

This practice stopped briefly after we posted the last blog entry but it has made a resurgent come back with a few smaller ad network players.

Here’s the AD screenshot taken just 3 days back.
Mobile advertising bad practices

Here’s what a user actually see’s when he clicks the ad

Mobile advertising bad practices
What is surprising is though most networks stopped this practice, several newer networks have adopted it including copying the exact ad text creative.

#2 – Advertisers getting charged for fraud clicks?

Although we’re not sure of this, there is a strong possibility that this could be happening because we’ve seen that several advertisers get very high CPA charges on a few networks. Though fraud clicks may not be the exact reason, but it could be one of them. Most advertisers don’t tend to use detailed tools to analyze their campaigns and therefore mobile ad networks can take advantage of them if they want to.  This highlights the importance of having detailed advertiser analytics – something that we will cover in another blog.

#3 – Taking user clicks directly to those pages which charge the user

Several forums were abuzz this year about another India based advertising network directly routing the users clicks to a page where they are billed for. When a user clicked on ads, content was downloaded (without the users’s permission), the money was deduced from his phone balance and a ‘thank you’ message was sent to (mock) the user! This is a classic case of misusing mobile advertising. The responsible advertiser or ad network must understand that such an event undermines the effectiveness of the medium and can have long term consequences. It is also the duty of advertising networks to check and advise an advertiser against it if he has put such a URL willingly or by mistake.

# 4- Auto Redirection to Landing Page

Another bad practice, this one by mobile publishers has come to my notice is auto redirecting the end user to an advertiser’s landing page. Recently when I was talking with a wap site publisher, he told me about this feature, some of his partner sites were using, wherein the site has a no. of ad links and if the user does not click on any of the links within a time frame, the publisher automatically takes the user to any 1 of the landing pages of the advertiser. I am not sure if such a thing is possible but if it is possible, then again advertisers and users are being taken for a ride.

#5 – Expired Ads

Some large players in the mobile ad business end up showing ads which have already expired but display “Nothing to show” when clicked. We’re not sure what is the reason why this is happening – it could be that the ads have already expired but not removed from some temp cache or it could be to create a false impression that there is inventory available where as it is not available.  This misleads publishers and leads users to a dead end.

Time to update the Mobile Marketing Association Code of Conduct?

I think it is high time that MMA take notice of such bad practices, updates its Code of Conduct, and inform all stakeholders in this ecosystem to avoid such practices.

Players in the mobile advertising ecosystem must behave responsibly otherwise the medium will loose its credibility with advertisers. Given the tough economic climate and recession in several countries, advertisers might start expecting the rates to be further commoditised or might just stop using this medium until credibility is re-established.
Publisher Team


13 thoughts on “Mobile Advertising Bad Practices Exposed II

  1. Great post!

    One of the reasons we built our campaign tracking and analytics platform for mobile (Mobilytics) is so advertisers can monitor their ad spending.

    The ad networks expect to simply be trusted which is not good enough. We have found many instances of click fraud, as well as advertisers being charged for click by robots and crawlers.

    Since Javascript is not used for the ad links, most ads are simple hyperlinks with limited tracking on the advertiser’s side.

    We need to hold the ad networks as accountable as they are on the wired web.

    Greg Harris

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  4. great post buddy!!

    Is there a list of advertisers who are following these bad practices. I am asking this coz we are a application developer company and recently tied with us some Mobile Advertisers for getting ads.

    We dont want to be at the wrong end.

    Appreciate your help.


  5. Great post

    While the mobile industry and its players are just getting to the interesting stage in development and acceptance, the unorthodox “dark siders” (aka exploiters – make a quick buck) are damaging the potential reputation of the mobile channel

    The idea of a Mobile Industry Code of Ethics is a good one, as is the analysis of ad tracking.

    Another good idea is to create an Ad Network Black List that is freely accessible to all – perhaps backed by leading industry players

    Interested to discuss this further


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  7. interesting and eye-opener article.
    In crunch times like these, when mobile operators are educating advertisement agencies/media houses, it is of utmost important to provide them the real statistics and follow the moral code of conduct.

    Every big operator around the world has mobile adverting as top 5 investment areas for FY09-10 and FY10-11. While operators are already investing hugely in the solutions, it is of utmost important to Ethical with the clients.

  8. 100% true ,
    Reason no. 1 and 3 are still Dominating in the industry. I dont know how to stop such actions .
    But you did a great job by posting in your blog so that it can reach upto masses 🙂

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