Why Are You Seeing So Many Bad Digital Ads Now?

New York Times
February 11, 2023

Portia Kapraun has always seen unwelcome ads on Twitter, usually from major brands pitching her luxury jewelry or vehicles that she, as a librarian in Indiana, could not afford.

But the mix now is far more annoying: More ads for random gold investments, she said, and also a badly designed ad for what looked like a tabletop foosball set constructed with rubber bands and particle board, which promised its product would be the most fun family game she had ever played.

Ms. Kapraun was not interested. But she soon saw the ad again. And again. And again...

Social media is a far easier target for the small but motivated group of anti-vaccine advertisers studied by David A. Broniatowski, who helps run the Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at the George Washington University. Their ads are designed to evade “very brittle” moderation algorithms by spacing out the letters of banned keywords or replacing them with emojis, he said.

“They will use whatever means necessary to get their message out there,” he said. “Ads are simply one tool in their toolbox.”

Read the full article in The New York Times.