Online advertising getting into dangerous waters

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I have been noticing graphic ads appearing in my RSS feeds recently. The advert pictured that really caught my eye seems to be being served by Google, but I am sure that these adverts are appearing via other advertising networks as well.

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A quick search online shows the legal issues that eBay has had with a range of companies over the sale of fake goods: L’Oreal, LVMH (Louis Vuitton) and Tiffany to name but a few. Beyond short-termist thinking of profits why would advertising networks want to sell inventory to counterfeiters?

What surprised me was a couple of things:

  • The advertising networks have done nothing obvious to stop the use of their networks to sell fake goods. Looking at these ads it is doubtful that they have been vetted by a real-life person
  • There is no way to suggest to the advertising network that the ad is inappropriate or just plain wrong in the way that you can with Facebook adverts. Whilst there are no doubt technical difficulties involved with building this funcationality, I could imagine that lawyers would have a field day in court over it