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Follow the Money: Senate Homeland Security Committee Investigating Online Advertising

May 12, 2014

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Homeland & Governmental Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on May 15 at 9:30 am ET entitled “Online Advertising and Hidden Hazards to Consumer Security and Data Privacy“.

Not only should the Subcommittee be focused on consumer security–they should also be concerned with advertiser fraud.

The Subcommittee will no doubt be regaled with excuses from the online advertising business trying to explain away how it is that sites selling all manner of illegal stuff are publishing ads by Fortune 500 companies–but none of the biggest advertising exchanges have anything to do with it.  And those exchanges just happen to be owned and operated by the two biggest search engines:  Google and Yahoo.

The witnesses include Alex Stamos, Chief Information Security Officer, Yahoo! Inc. and George F. Salem, Senior Product Manager, Google, Inc.  Perhaps they can explain how it is that their hands are clean?  Perhaps they can explain how there’s no fraud in this system:

  1. Trichordist Editor
    May 13, 2014 at 00:24

    Reblogged this on The Trichordist.


  2. May 13, 2014 at 01:01

    Frankly, no matter how convoluted the construction of the system may be, the fact is that money changes hands along every step of the way. That means that whoever is handing over the money at any particular step has a right – I’d go as far as saying an obligation – to hold whomever is accepting the money accountable for what is to be delivered.

    In that sense, whoever is running a particular advertising account cannot hide behind the fact that they don’t know where the money is going. It is their business to know. If their present arrangements cannot allow them to ensure that the purchased advertising does not appear in undesireable media, they should change their arrangements.

    Sadly, I fear that the advertisers themselves don’t really worry about it that much. If they did, they would restructure their contracts to make sure that the intermediaries are held liable for any misplaced advertising. The ad-space buyer is, in that sense, king, because without their money the whole edifice crumbles.


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