Routine Activity Theory and Digital Advertising

Routine Activity Theory

In the context of advertising fraud crime, the routine activity theory is valid and reflects the current state of affairs. The lack of guardianship from the authorities and the increase in suitable targets are creating an environment where motivated criminals can commit the crime of advertising fraud. Felson (1979) and Pratt (2010) observed that the increase in technology advancement has not only changed society but has also shifted crime patterns.

Digital business risks

There is a correlation between the increase of audience’s daily activities online and internet fraud targeting. According to Fletcher (2007), their association and trajectory are set to continue. Fletcher (2007), further advises that online banking; communication and shopping were the largest factors for the increase. Laudon (2004), advises that companies conducting their business in cyber space were at a greater risk than those dealing directly with customers. Modern day e-commerce uses some of the most advanced technology (Laudon, 2004). Fletcher (2007) further highlighted that it is for that same fact why online businesses are such an attractive opportunity for cyber-criminals as there are no face-to-face checks carried out before purchasing compared to the traditional space. This lack of inspection places the consumers at a greater risk of fraud. These cyber space opportunities also traverse ecommerce to online marketing with the commonality between the two, being the anonymity of the criminal posing as a legitimate user with relative ease (Grabowski, 2001).

Routine Activity Theory

A study by Pratt (2010) aimed at not repeating previous empirical studies – previous research included that of Holtfreter (2006), which mostly focused on the socio-demographics of the fraud victims in a city in the US. Pratt’s (2010) study area suggested a different approach to the same topic as Holtfreter (2006). They studied the theoretical nature and the initial reason for this form of criminalisation. They analysed the causal mechanisms that underlie fraud targeting and victimisation in particular e.g. why certain people under a certain social-demographic are more likely to be targeted for victimisation Travis (2010). An analysis on internet fraud targeting made an interesting reference to (FELSON, 1979) particularly the ‘routine activity theory’ which iterates a predicted outcome. On the basis of a changing opportunity landscape provided by the introduction of a new infrastructure for legitimate business, coupled with a lack of capable guardianship, increases the overall convergence of motivated criminals and suitable victims.

Posted by Kenneth White-Dowe, Ad Technology Manager

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