Advertising in the YouTube app – who doesn't YouTube Premium has booked, advertisements are displayed between the video suggestions and search results. The ads are sometimes inconspicuous or even camouflaged as video suggestions and sometimes very conspicuously advertising. In addition to well-known brands and shops, there are also advertising banners from less well-known providers and advertisers who have rather strange names or names that sound poorly translated. From free product trials to Return Purchases to cash gifts under the YouTuber's “Mr. Beast" is all there. To avoid falling for it, you can easily check who is behind the ad.
Chapter in this post:
I've put the focus here on advertising in the YouTube app because I no longer use any other social media app - neither TikTok or Twitter / X nor Facebook or Instagram. But I am sure that things are similar or even worse there. In the YouTube app, you at least have the option of checking who is responsible for an ad.
But before that you should read carefully what is written on the picture and below. Are too sensational or even inappropriate adjectives used to describe the offer? Are articles or other words missing, making the ad sound strange? Does the vendor name sound weird, poorly translated, or generic? And is the offer too good to be true? These are all red flags!
Underneath the blue link symbol seen in many ads – i.e. the square with an arrow pointing out of it – you will see three dots arranged one above the other. These indicate a menu. And if you tap on it, you'll get more information about the ad you're watching. So be careful not to accidentally open the link to the advertiser and tap the dots.
In the overview that opens, you can see which company is advertising and which country it comes from. It also states whether the advertiser has verified their identity (although that doesn't mean much). Last but not least, you can report the advertisement if you have any doubts about the seriousness of the offer. There is a flag symbol with the "Report ad" lettering in the upper area.
As you can now see, the advertisement for the "Monster Energy" product test is not an advertisement from a German-speaking country. In addition, the company "Айконтекст" (iContext) from Belarus has not yet confirmed its identity. Not only that should already be a sign that you should not disclose any data on the ad landing page. Also, iContext from Belarus is just an advertising company that advertises on all possible platforms. It has nothing to do with product testing itself.
Fake ads using well-known brands and testimonials
When it comes to getting something for free, your alarm bells must be ringing! Why would anyone want to gift you something through a social media ad? Well, that might not be questioned much if the people and companies advertised are known for (money) gifts - like "Mr. beast".
The younger ones certainly know the name, because the operator repeatedly provides sensational campaigns and gifts on his channels and with his team. There are also thumbnails tailored to the target group and video titles with a clickbait character. So it wouldn't be surprising if fans, or those who have only marginally heard of the channels and videos, would tap the ad below to get $1.000 just for watching a 15-second video.
But if you now use the method described above to see who placed the ad, then you can see that it is not from the USA. It was allegedly switched by a "Marmaduke Group" from Romania, also with an as yet unconfirmed identity. Unlike iContext, I didn't find anything about the alleged Marmaduke company (other than various people with that last name, a company in Ireland, and the 2010 comic book adaptation "Marmaduke"). That should certainly give food for thought.
Examples of legitimate ads in the YouTube app
You can identify dubious and dubious advertising in the YouTube app relatively easily and report it via the advertising center used for this purpose. But there are not only black sheep, but also a whole lot of advertising that is not based on fraud, Phishing, Malware-Proliferation and whatever else is out. At the top I showed you four advertising banners, two of which have now been revealed to be dubious. But here are the other two, which you can definitely tap on if you are interested:
[On vacation] After graduating from high school, Johannes completed training as a business assistant specializing in foreign languages. But then he decided to research and write, which led to his independence. He has been working for Sir Apfelot, among others, for several years now. His articles include product introductions, news, instructions, video games, consoles and much more. He follows Apple keynotes live via stream.