The Fraud That Keeps On Defrauding


(By Spike Santee) More bad news for small businesses trying to advertise on the Internet. News is out that Google has been hacked, sending unsuspecting users to fake websites intent on infecting their computers with malware. Over at Facebook, a staff psychologist harvested the personal data of over 50 million Americans and shared the information with Cambridge Analytica, which illegally used the information to target users for political reasons.

Google search results for “Amazon” pointed to a scam site for hours on Thursday (3/13/18), according to one report. Since then, another series of ads took its place in some parts of the U.S. One of the new ads suggests consumers find the best Easter deal with two-day free shipping.

The malicious ads appeared at the very top of the search results. Rather than sending the person clicking on the ad to Amazon, they were sent to a page telling the user to call a number for fear their computer was infected with malware.

Depending on the type of computer the person used, the page that linked to the ad looked like an “official” Apple or Windows support page. An analysis of the Web page’s code showed that those who attempted to dismiss the popup box on the page would trigger the browser to expand to full-screen, giving the appearance of ransomware. This is at least the second time in two years that Google has served up a malicious ad under Amazon’s name, according to the report.

Over at Facebook, Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan and co-founder of Global Science Research, the company that harvested Facebook data using a personality-testing app “thisisyourdigitallife” (which touted itself as a personality test used by psychologists), under the guise of academic research. GSR later shared the data with the political firm Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – which used the data to build sophisticated psychological profiles of U.S. voters.

Facebook’s deputy general counsel has described the data harvesting scheme as “a scam” and “a fraud.” He singled out Kogan, an assistant professor at Cambridge University, as having “lied to us and violated our platform policies” by passing the data on to Cambridge Analytica. Kogan’s co-founder at GSR, Joseph Chancellor, is still employed as a staff psychologist at Facebook. It has taken Facebook three years to finally do the right thing and suspend Cambridge Analytica after illegally using the data of 50 million users.

Help your local advertisers find the safe haven they are looking for on radio. There is no malicious malware or click fraud. There is no hidden agenda. On radio, your local advertiser will find an advertiser safe, family-friendly environment based on an emotional connection that builds trust.

Radio listening is a one-on-one and emotions-driven experience, and listeners believe that both the medium and its advertising are more relevant to them (compared to television and newspapers). Consumers see television and newspapers as being designed to satisfy the masses, but radio is where they turn to get gratification of their personal wants and needs. Consumers believe that their radio programs carry ads which are appropriate for them as individuals, and listeners are therefore more ready to react at an emotional level. The ability of radio advertising to make personal, emotions-driven connections with listeners helps explain why radio can be so effective.

Radio now has the best documented ROI of any medium, especially social media.

That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.

Spike Santee is the author of “The Four Keys to Advertising Success” and the president of Contact Spike at (785) 230-5350.


  1. Indeed, Spike. While challenging the assumption that radio is unique at more or less generating such responses, I am obliged to point out, as a result of a consistent neurological impact across all electronic media, radio is hardly unique.

    Having said that, allow me to make the following distinction:
    Yes,listeners do, from time to time, have emotional responses to the radio – depending on what is being presented and how it is being presented.

    Our task, I believe, is to come up with strategies and methodologies to, shall I say, INDUCE more of those emotional responses – knowingly and on purpose. In other words, it is up to US to make that happen.

    Contemporary radio is populated by paid-up members of The Hopa-Hopa Clan. As such, we merely HOPE our stuff gets through and has that emotional impact. Generally we are from from enjoying such a circumstance because we have yet to consider these possibilities.

  2. Ron & Dan,

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my article.

    I believe the research shows that radio does indeed have a unique emotional engaging relationship with the audience that other media simply don’t have.

    You can refer to the Radio Ad Lab studies about relevancy or you could just consider it this way; “I love listening to Ron Robinson because he plays my favorite songs.”

    That emotional in gagement sets the stage for trust and that sets the stage for advertising effectiveness.

    Yes, it is possible to write terrible ads that will not benefit from this environment of trust, but an understanding of this environment of trust is the first step in writting more effective radio commercials.

  3. Note to Dan Larson:
    I accept your contentions, Dan, as remarks about what radio, generally, is right now.
    Radio’s emotional impact is an innate – lucky for us – neurological property. Like every other electronic medium – that’s a freebie.
    I think, after further consideration, that the huge percentage of locally-produced radio commercials are, essentially, no more than newspaper ads-of-the-air. That is, they are rife with content and almost bereft of elements that drive emotions.
    All of my own commentaries are based on one singular premise: Radio, if it is to prosper in the future, is required to make massive, specific improvements to its communicative approaches – on-air and in the writing of commercials.
    The way things are just won’t cut it.

  4. While I am satisfied that Spike’s overall contentions about the credibility of digital advertising are sobering, I am obliged to make a couple of other points.
    Radio is but one of the “emotionally driven” media.
    ALL electronic media operate on that principle: Emotion first – content second.
    Radio commercials have almost pervasively ignored the principle by putting “content” at the forefront, while disregarding the “emotional” elements that still, have always been available.
    Meanwhile, radio has never been a one-to-one medium; it isn’t now and it never will be. And that, I contend, is the very presupposition that has manacled the potential of radio all along.

    • I did not think that Mr. Santee named radio as the “only” emotional media but more likely to illicit that emotion. The content / programming of the station is very much at the forefront – as it is the content and the way in which the listener experiences this content that creates empathy and emotion and connection with the consumer/listener. You refer to radio commercials, which are a part of the content and information negatively. Yet, Mr. Santee indicates that the radio medium has a very high ROI if not the highest. Seems to me that radio is doing a better job at connecting the right message to the right person effectively. Radio’s is experienced one-to-one… I would contend that listening experiences of the ear is more about me “the one”, in my car, on my computer, my phone, my home and connected speaker… and it seems to be the very basis that unleashes the potential of radio. Content that reaches about 93% of America each week individually…


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