If you’ve ever surfed the Internet, you’ve encountered Direct Response advertising. For shoppers, that enticing “buy now” or “learn more” button on the page on your screen will take you right to the website where the merchandise you seek is ready and available for purchase with just a click or two.
For advertisers hoping to bring shoppers to their digital checkout counter, it’s a quick connection to a consumer they’ve carefully identified via analytics and research.
The website looks very similar and the products appear nearly identical, but the site visited is not the site the shopper thought he or she clicked on. Often, the product they purchase turns out to be inferior quality to the product expected, or worse yet, never arrives at all.
This digital ad fraud is called “spoofing,” and it’s become a vexing and expensive problem for advertisers, which strikes at the heart of
Major eCommerce platforms, like Amazon and Shopify, are aware of this practice, but, to date, have taken few steps to thwart such practices or increase consumer awareness surrounding the issue.
According to the Trustworthy Accountability Group, a multi-industry effort to secure and defend the digital advertising agency, fraud is a multibillion-dollar problem for online retailers and advertisers. The problem affects advertisers and content hosts alike. The Association of National Advertisers estimates that almost two-thirds of all digital advertising dollars are lost to fraud.
To protect yourself while shopping online, keep an eye out for the signs of an impostor website.
- Question deep discounts. If you are actively shopping for a product, you’ll soon have a general idea of how much it should cost. One retailer might offer a better deal or better terms than another, but the prices are usually within range of each other. If you see the product you’ve been looking for offered at a vastly reduced price at a website, there is a good chance the product is a knockoff or otherwise counterfeit—possibly even a scam.
- Check that URL. If a mouse click is supposed to take you to a site selling a particular brand of product or retailer, check the website domain name to see if it matches. Big retailers and large manufacturers have their own websites and aren’t as likely to sell their products on third-party sites. Also look out for websites ending in .net or .org as they aren’t often used in regular e-commerce.
- Mind the spelling. Big retailers and large manufacturers have professionally-made and maintained websites. Look over the entire website and check to see if there are spelling and grammar mistakes. Check for dead links around the site. These kinds of errors might seem superficial, but they’re indicative of a website put together on the cheap.
- Get in contact. Look for contact information like an email address link or an address and phone number for the retailer. If you cannot find that information, be suspicious.
- Don’t send money. If a transaction is supposed to be handled by bank transfer, be extremely wary. Once actual money has changed hands, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to get that money back if there’s a problem. Use a credit or debit card, both of which have formal avenues and procedures for challenging a fraudulent sale.
For more information on buying media that sells, contact Diray Media