Online advertising has allowed many businesses and websites to reach and tap the largest market at minimal effort and cost. With the increasing number of Internet users and the development of technology, it offers a lot of benefits for companies and entrepreneurs in this modern age. However, there are certain downsides of online advertising that involve activities that many consider as illegal or unethical for both the business and the consumers.
Its popularity has immensely increased over the years and cyber criminals take advantage of that to exploit unsuspecting users and companies. Before we proceed to the negative implications of online advertising, it is best that we first understand its inner workings.
How online advertising works
Notice how when you go online, different pop-ups and adverts that eerily correspond to your recent interests appear randomly on the page. That is basically what online advertising is, and it all begins with you. Every time you visit a website, certain information about you like your age, gender, location and recent pages you have visited, to name a few, are collected to create your digital profile. Web pages and ad networks would then use your profile to correlate it with their inventory of ads. If there’s a match, then they send the relevant advert to your browser. Most of the time, online advertising involves third parties who are trying to match up their ads to your digital profile in an auction. The highest bidder would be able to send their ads to you.
The negative side of online advertising
- Invasion of privacy
Users, who have an idea of how online advertising works, feel that the whole process of creating your digital profile is a violation personal privacy. Knowing that your online activities and browsing behavior are being watched and recorded by businesses and other parties who want to promote their products to you is really off-putting.
- Breeding ground for harmful malware
Cyber criminals use online advertising as a way of spreading harmful data or apps that could be detrimental to Internet users. Malwares, such as Adware and Spyware, can infiltrate your computer and attack its system, causing serious damage. Users usually come in contact with malwares by intentionally or unintentionally visiting unsafe websites or clicking on suspicious adverts. A word of caution: These malwares can easily slip into trustworthy websites and ad networks by disguising themselves as legitimate ads. Many of these corrupt apps or data can auto-run, which means they could automatically redirect you to an unsafe landing page and infect your computer system without you having to click on anything.
To avoid being victimized by these cyber-attacks, make sure to increase the security settings of your computer by installing a reliable malware protection software and turning on ad blockers in your browser. Also, be wary of the sites you visit and the banners or pop-ups that you click on. The best way to protect yourself from the negative aspects of online advertising is to be aware and vigilant at all times.