Advertising tends to evolve with technology, so it’s really no surprise to see a brighter, wider focus on advertising on mobile apps. But not everybody is using the mobile platform discreetly, conventionally, or even (some would argue) ethically. Most smartphone users tolerate a certain number of annoying ads on the apps they use—after all, you have the world of the internet and the pinnacle of technology in the palm of your hand, so why would you complain? But developers and guerilla advertisers are taking advantage of the new media to a discomforting degree.
Pop-up ads were, aside from the hell-screeching noises of establishing a dial-up connection, the most infuriating part of the internet back in the late 1990s when connections started becoming more commonplace. The trend died down as pop-up blockers became commonplace, but a new kind of pop-up advertisement is emerging, stealthily lurking in free apps you may already have on your phone.
App developers usually make their money through advertising, so they can’t be faulted for trying to employ new tricks to captivate the dying attention span of the human mind. But these new gimmicks are deceptive, and may be infringing on your privacy.
These stealth pop-up ads work by disguising their content as a new text message notification or app icon, which will visually fool a user into clicking them. From there, some ads are able to hijack your personal settings—some investigations have shown these advertisements changing browser settings, bookmarks, and even accessing your contact list, then taking your friends’ and families’ personal information to be sold to other advertisers.
The practice isn’t technically illegal—yet—but a number of anti-aggressive advertising campaigns are beginning to develop, with major brands like Apple and Google making more restrictions to prevent this data infringement. Avoid downloading multiple apps at a time so you can more easily pinpoint any suspicious activity, and make sure your apps come from a publisher you trust.
Of course, mobile advertising in and of itself is not some villainous campaign to devour your personal data. In fact, it’s a revolutionary new way to capture and compel a technology-driven audience—if you go about it the right way. If you’re interested in more information about how mobile ads can work in your favor, or want to know more about the dangers of stealth mobile pop-ups, contact us, and we’ll set you straight.
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