Who’s Policing the Digital World?

Over the last few months there have been several troublesome developments involving what is acceptable in the digital world – from the internet to the iPhone, and from ads to apps.

Being in the online advertising business, I’ll start with ads because right now online consumer advertising is getting a black eye – and no one (except Google) seems to be doing anything about it.

The problem child, or children, are the scammy Acai berry-weight loss-colon cleaning-work from home-teeth whitening ads that permeate the web.

They are giving advertising a bad name. When that happens people stop trusting and worse, stop buying.

A year ago a close friend fell for the Acai berry scam.Mysterious charges appeared on her credit card.Fortunately the credit card company refunded the charges but it was an exasperating experience.Obviously many people were affected by the ads, and since then there’s been a strong consumer backlash.

But here we are about a year later, and my question is, why the heck are these ads still running and why is nothing being done to stop them?

Specifically I’m calling out the likes of sites such as CNN.com and ad networks like Pulse360 (which places the ads on sites).

Guys, it’s time to man up and stop the ads.

I don’t care how much money you make from them, the bottom line is that consumers are getting screwed and you are partly responsible for serving up this garbage.

And while we’re at it, what’s with the CPA networks that promote these offers? I know this is the money train for you. But come on, all you have to do is check out the landing pages of these sites. Read the small print on them and tell me you think the ads are legit. Yeah, those very landing pages that pose as legitimate newspapers. Tell me guys, just how the heck are you sleeping at night?

At least Google has had the kahunas to do something about it, launching legal action against companies promoting “work from home” using the Google trademark. But that only takes care of one part of the problem. What we need is a concerted effort from websites, ad networks and CPA networks to stamp this practice out.

Let’s move from the ads now to one of the gatekeepers of the mobile world –Apple.There has been some furor in the last few days with Apple banning certain apps in the app store because they contained “overtly sexual content”.Now we all know how Apple does what it wants and will impose restrictions as it pleases.History shows that their refusal to allow cloning of their early computers all but guaranteed the success of the PC.

So now they’ve restrict adult related apps in their app store and I’m OK with that – except when you look at the details. For some incomprehensible reason they’ve banned all the small app developers but have kept Playboy, FHM and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit apps in the store.

Here’s what I want Apple to do. Go and meet with the parents whose complaints drove you to this new policy which protects their kids. Tell them why Playboy and co are still in the store. Can’t wait to hear the “spin” on that one.

So come on Apple we’re not stupid. You don’t need the money that badly. Just be consistent and kick them out.

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