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Submission + - Hidden web ads inflate revenues, don't annoy us

rickb928 writes: Well, sort of...

The Wall Street Journal publishes here (Same story, who stole what???) and here:

'Kraft Foods, Greyhound Lines and Capital One Financial have bought some strange ads on the Internet lately. What's so strange about them is that they're invisible.

The companies might not have known about their invisible display ads — the kind that are supposed to appear alongside content on Web pages — if not for Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School who studies Internet advertising.

Mr. Edelman says his research shows that all three marketers, and many others, have fallen victim to Web sites that use such ads as a way to sell more ad space than they have.

The Web sites can get away with it, he says, because online advertisers don't always audit their campaigns for proof their ads are appearing. It isn't clear how common these ads are or how much they cost marketers.

Mr. Edelman and other Internet-security experts say the ads are created with the use of computer code that makes it look to marketers as though their ads are showing up on legitimate Web sites. But consumers who visit those sites can't see the ads because they have been placed on invisible Web pages.

In one example, visitors to a site called saw an ordinary-looking Web page with one ad for Verizon Communications and another for a weight-loss product. But, Mr. Edelman, who studied the site in January, said software code running behind the scenes opened more than 40 Web pages, each including three ads from marketers such as Domino's Pizza and Capital One, which were invisible to visitors.

Mr. Edelman's analysis of the code was confirmed by computer-security experts at Symantec and McAfee as well as online-ad advisory firms DoubleVerify and Anchor Intelligence.'

Sweet. I'm not sure what's worse, these and other companies being cheated out of ad dollars by this latest wrinkle in fraud, or us waiting while these invisible pages load. Not only do we suffer through interminable Flash loads, every geegaw Web trick to tickle our eyeballs and/or ears, but we now can be pretty sure that some of those sites that take so ^*%^ long to load are actually loading up page after page of 'invisible' ads.

I'm shocked, SHOCKED! Ad fraud, right under our noses, on the Internet? Oh my...

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