Online ads can appear whimsical, catchy, flashy, and intriguing. But are they indeed what they appear to be?
While exploring Wonderland, Alice comes across the Hatter having tea with the March Hare and the Dormouse.
At the tea party, the Hatter is depicted by switching seats at any given time, making short, personal remarks, asking unanswerable riddles, and reciting absurd poetry, all of which eventually drive Alice away.
"Ad Hatters will gaslight you into thinking they're the best - with trickery and falsities."
That's how online ads can be - popping up in different places using impulsive trickery to lure you down the rabbit hole into madness. One minute you're researching solutions for your business, and the next, you're clicking a link and registering for a new product or service to manage your invoicing, largely based on enticing click-bait.
You'll start questioning the sanity of your decisions. "Should I have clicked this ad?" "Is this the right solution for me?" "Am I the appropriate answer to this online riddle?" "Should I seek another opinion or expert's advice?"
Not all ads are misleading but remember - most messages are not organic. A business or person paid for those ads to appear based on algorithms, search history, and keywords. And often include deceptive wording.
Ignoring ads once is achievable, but they change places and inquiries perpetually. You'll keep seeing the same ads and riddles appear. So, you must decide to remain at the table or leave and seek alternative advice.
Below are four recommendations to determine whether an ad is helpful or misleading:
Avoid scams. Fake ads on Google are ads bought and used by fraudsters posing as businesses to scam consumers online. Though fake Google ads are unlawful and prohibited by the platform, Google has difficulty identifying and stopping them unless reported.
Identify the Primary. Does the primary website appear on the same search results page as the ad? Ads for trustworthy sites are usually accompanied by their primary domain on the first search page results.
Trust But Verify. Is the ad linking you to a legitimate company's site? Or to a reseller's landing page?
Compare Results. Check competitors' ads for similar products and services and search for comparative online tools from trustworthy sources like Consumer Reports.
So remain vigilant against Ad Hatters when searching for business solutions online. Otherwise, you could get stuck at a neverending ad party until you're driven mad.