As advertisers and media companies continue trying to move further into the world of digital advertising, there continue to be hard examples of why that medium doesn’t always deliver what it promises.

Most tech-savvy advertisers are already aware a good percentage of hits recorded in digital ads are often “bots,” or computer programs acting as human readers. Now The New York Times has published a story saying Russian “cyberforgers” have created more than half a million fake internet users and a quarter of a million fake websites to trick advertisers into paying for video ads that are never watched.

That’s right, fake people on fake websites watching real ads and getting paid real advertising dollars. The company White Ops, an ad-focused computer security firm, publicly reported the scam and says it’s costing advertisers $5 million a day.

While the advertisers ripped off by the scheme were not reported, some of the media outlets involved included Fox News, CBS, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

According to the article, digital ad fraud was projected to cost marketers more than $7 billion in 2016, raising the question of exactly what are online advertisers getting.

Essentially the forgers were able to “create” more than half a million online “people” who watched video just as actual humans might — even starting and stopping and moving a mouse around the page and clicking. At the end of the day the forgers were collecting money from advertisers and ad networks after convincing them their ads had been seen hundreds of millions of times.

Monster donation from AMG
The Alabama Department of Archives and History received a major donation last week from the Alabama Media Group in the way of millions of photographic negatives shot by the company’s newspapers over the years.

On Dec. 14, AMG announced the donation of more than three million negatives to ADAH in Montgomery. The department will preserve the images, digitizing them and making them available to the public, according to a press release from ADAH.

The negatives were produced by the photographers who worked for the state’s Newhouse-owned newspapers from the 1920s through the end of the 20th century. The Mobile Press-Register, Huntsville Times and Birmingham News are all owned by Newhouse and run by its subsidiary, AMG.

The donation should give the public access to a treasure trove of images that may have been filed away for decades. The ADAH can be visited online at www.archives.alabama.gov.