The quiet killer market in online ads: Placebos

Advertisers use placebo ads when they test campaigns online. Red Cross is a big winner, but other charities are pounding for placebo slots.
Stephen Baker

When advertisers research the effectiveness of an online advertisement, they typically populate half of the pages with the ad--and the other half, the control group, with a filler ad, a placebo. This is valuable advertising real estate that is often given away. One common placebo ad, I'm hearing, is Red Cross.

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