Will Waugh at the Association of National Advertisers warns about advertisers’ “unknowing participation, through brokers, in spyware dissemination.”
This is a serious problem. Putting the scumbag spyware people aside, marketers – willingly or unknowingly – are the enablers. Here’s the reality: It is because of marketers that there is a business for spyware. Consumers will not be sympathetic to enablers, nor should industry watchdogs. Just as it is an advertiser’s obligation to ensure its oversees manufacturing partners are not engaging in child labor, it also is their duty to ensure that their online advertiser partners are not violating consumer privacy and trust through spyware. Agents are extensions of the brand, so brands must be extremely diligent here, especially provided the temptation to look the other way when the direct-response ROI is so high. What makes this scenario disturbing is that it is often junior executives — with high pressure to meet frequent performance benchmarks — who are responsible for overseeing the in-the-weeds services that shady agents provide.