‘Sophisticated’ adverts are ruining free business advertising
Free business advertising is the latest thing to go the way of the dodo.
The Irish Times has uncovered that advertising agencies are not only using a sophisticated system of automated targeting, but they are using it to help their clients make money.
The practice, known as automated targeting or automated attribution, involves a user clicking on a ‘target’ in a business advert and a piece of text describing the company, product or service being advertised.
The advertiser can then be directed to the appropriate advertisement and can then make money from that sale.
The article also points out that the process of automated attribution has also been used to help a woman sell her house to her husband.
The Times says it has seen automated advertising agencies use this technology to help businesses make money by targeting women, with a number of them targeting women who are in debt and have been victims of domestic violence.
It is estimated that women in Ireland make up nearly half of all unpaid workers in the economy.
The report is based on a number “of examples of advertising that uses this automated attribution process, including a new commercial for a family health service that targeted women who had experienced financial difficulties and were desperate for help”, the Times reports.
The advertisement is aimed at women in the Dublin area, the newspaper reports.
“Women are increasingly being targeted by advertising agencies for financial help,” said Maria O’Leary, executive director of the Irish Advertising Standards Authority.
“It’s about women being more targeted and more targeted for their problems, for financial support and more financial help, not for being wealthy.”
Ms O’Donnell added that adverts targeting women are not uncommon and that the practice is “very common”.
“It seems that when you use a targeting algorithm, there are a few factors to take into account,” she said.
“One is the type of ad you’re running, that’s the first thing that you should be concerned about, and that is your targeting, the targeting algorithm that is used by the advertising agency.”
Secondly, the type and content of the ad.
“Thirdly, the language used by a particular advertiser in the ad and the kind of person that they are targeting.”
Fourthly, your targeting algorithm and your language, and what kind of ads you run, will also play a part in the outcome of your ad.
The adverts also appeared to be aimed at men.
The use of automated advertising in this manner has raised concerns among the industry.
The Advertising Standards Agency said it had received numerous complaints about automated targeting over the last few years.
“The issues raised by some of the issues raised in our recent report are not unique to advertising, but are more pervasive in the advertising industry,” said an ASA spokesperson.
“We have worked closely with advertising agencies, including those of the advertising sector, to investigate these issues and are working to improve our systems and processes to help us provide a better service for all of our customers.”
A spokesman for the advertising watchdog said that the use of adverts that target women and children has been found to be unacceptable.
“There has been a rise in the use in recent years of automated adverts aimed at targeting women and girls, including by advertisers who have been advised to take this action,” the spokesperson said.
“There are also concerns that automated targeting has contributed to an increase in the number of ads for women that are placed on the internet.”
A spokeswoman for the Irish Independent said she was not aware of any specific complaints about advertising targeting children, but added that the report was “deeply concerning”.
“The ASA’s reports are a tool for us to work with advertisers to ensure that their advertising works for their customers,” the spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman also stressed that the ASA had received no complaints from any of the companies involved in the commercial.