Mobile advertising booms, but being hacked

Written by on August 27, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

chainMobile is now the most important channel for the advertising industry. It is growing incredibly fast. And, like all technology advances, it is increasingly under attack from the dark side. In 2014, advertising spend on mobile increased by nearly 65 percent. Banner adverts are still the most popular single campaign, accounting for 47 percent of the market, overtaking search. The market is worth $31.9 billion and counting.

Sadly, the arena is still in an experimental stage, as witnessed by the blunt banner ad approach. And some new launches are pretty bizarre.

In the UK, they are installing giant ‘eyes’ outside stations and big stores. These eyes contain thousands of lenses, which can read the faces of people in range. This means that – wait for it – the eye can display adverts targeted at different sections of the community. Apparently it can detect gender and age and thus serve adverts based on this information. Quite what happens when a family group consisting of a teenage girl, a 20 year old boy, mum, dad and the grandparents goes past is not fully explained. Presumably very trendy, family orientated, safe and long lasting denture fixative.

More seriously, the mobile advert is now a target for malware, which has tripled in the last year. Malware infected adverts are injected into ad networks which distribute the adverts to far-flung sites and when clicked get into visitors’ phones. Generally Adobe Flash vulnerabilities are the target of choice for these nice people. Although it is yet to become a widespread problem, the industry is worried. Indeed, the security company that was doing the survey was found and thwarted by the hackers. This meant that the tripling actually happened between June 2014 and February this year. Since then it was not possible to measure the threat in the same because the hackers had blocked the original way of measuring it.

Overall, advertising is facing disruption on a scale never seen before. Such is the disruption that the industry cannot measure its own effectiveness. For instance, how do you measure whether someone has viewed a video online? If they finish it, re-size it or click an advert in it? If an advert starts automatically, does that count? The industry and the way that its effectiveness is measured needs a complete re-think. Even the leading agency, WPP, believes that the optimism in the industry seems ‘misplaced.’

With targeted mobile advertising still very much at an experimental stage – whatever anyone tells you – the new malware threat might well scupper many companies’ ambitions in this area unless the security guys step up the monitoring of mobile ad networks – and we bring common sense to the targeting.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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