Tony Robbins is dead, don't you know? And he was murdered by one of his own followers, no less.

At least, if you believe ads.

Estimates for how many ads we see each day range from 4,000 to 10,000. More credible sources we're exposed to 1.59 hours of advertising on traditional and modern media, each and ever day.

The question is, how many of them are out-and-out blatant lies?

I had to ask myself that question this morning when checking my son's baseball schedule on his team's free scheduling app, Team App. Because the app is free, it's ad-supported. And the ad today was that Tony Robbins was murdered by a "follower," as if Robbins was a cult leader. A quick Google search revealed that to be a complete and utter fabrication, as expected.

We don't expect ads to be completely unbiased. But we do expect them to not outright blatantly lie.

More and more advertising these days is bought, sold, and placed automatically, via what the adtech industry calls programmatic advertising. That means no human hands were involved in its placement. Up to 80 percent of display advertising in the U.S. in 2018 is placed programmatically, according to eMarketer.

But is that a good thing?

On the one hand, it's probably the only way possible. We're talking $32.56 billion in advertising, spent a few pennies at a time for the most part on literally trillions of ad impressions in mobile apps, websites, and smart TVs.

On the other hand, it enables a ton of fraud ... and it clearly provides utterly false, misleading, damaging, and dangerous messages wide publication.

Social media, led by Twitter and Facebook, is figuring out how to combat fake news at internet scale.

Adtech needs to do the same.

Published on: Jun 28, 2018