WARNING: Facebook-Emulating Ad Spam Is Growing

Beware of ads that emulate Facebook color schemes and declare you have a friend request.

Check out this banner ad that I saw on the web. It has the Facebook color scheme, fonts, button design, and other elements. It even says you have a friend request from this girl, who apparently has two friends in common with you.

The reason why this works is that users don’t know the difference between a social widget and an ad. Both are items creeping off to the side. Imagine if these ads got smart enough to actually include friend images and names, just like social widgets do?

By the way, if you click on these ads, it goes to a spam dating site where you can rate women with unusually large breasts. Because of the inappropriate images shown, we cannot publish the landing pages here.

As Facebook widgets gain more prominence over time, do you think this creates greater or less confusion? Will Facebook be able to stop this and will advertising networks that profit off Facebook’s good branding, continue to look the other way?

Dennis Yu has helped brands grow and measure their Facebook presences. He has spoken at Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, Web 2.0, The American Marketing Association, PubCon, Conversational Commerce Conference, Pacific Conferences, HostingCon, Affiliate Summit, Affiliate Convention, UltraLight Startups, MIVA Merchant, and other venues. Yu has also counseled the Federal Trade Commission on privacy issues for social networks. Yu has held leadership positions at Yahoo and American Airlines. His educational background is finance and economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics.