March 29, 2017

For Marketers, a Brand Safety Wake-Up Call

Google ad controversy forces new focus
The Google ad boycott is more than a black eye for the internet giant, itÕs a wake-up call to the advertising industry.

And that may not be a bad thing, according to Marc Goldberg, CEO of Trust Metrics, a publisher verification firm.

ÒGoogleÕs position at the moment has put a lot of advertisers in a concerning situation,Ó said Goldberg. ÒBut whatÕs happening is good news for the industry.Ó

A growing list of companies around the world, worried that their messages may be appearing next to hate speech and worse, have pulled their ads from YouTube and GoogleÕs ad network.

Google has made some changes to address advertiser concerns, ensuring that ads appear only on content within its YouTube Partner Program, and tightening ad policies to block Òoffensive and derogatory content.Ó

The controversy creates new pressures on marketers, who will now have to take a more hands-on approach about where their ads appear and donÕt appear. That means deciding, when placing the ad, what is and what isnÕt an extremist website or a terrorist group or hate-speech content, according to eMarketer analyst Mark Dolliver.

ÒAdvertisers will probably get in less hot water by using whitelists of whatÕs OK rather than blacklists of whatÕs not, but theyÕll be open to boycotts and criticism either way,Ó Dolliver said.

ÒBrands control the conversation, and as more brands start to bring programmatic in-house, they will ultimately be responsible,Ó Goldberg said. ÒThey need to understand that risk.Ó

Programmatic ad buying has introduced a lot of new concerns, according to Goldberg. ÒGoogleÕs not perfect, but this recent issue is a punch in the belly for the programmatic industry, especially because Google didnÕt get it right.Ó

At bottom, the problem was advertisers were not keeping an eye on where messages ran. ÒThere was a lack of human involvement,Ó Goldberg said. ÒWe need to do a better job maintaining quality supply across the ecosystem. We need to stop thinking itÕs all about scale.Ó

Brands and publishers are moving toward more controlled environments like private marketplaces and programmatic direct deals, where only single publishers and select buyers are involved.

Copyright 2017 eMarketer Inc. All rights reserved. From By Rimma Kats.

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