April 18, 2024

Facing up to advertising fails

If you type into your search engine “advertising fails” you will come across some of the most ill-timed, poorly placed and downright unfortunate advertising misplacements.

It’s generally with traditional media; having an “Alcoholism, there is hope ahead” OOH (out-of-home) billboard banner with a Winery banner placed a few yards behind for instance. Yes, this is a real example.

Brand reputations were once again at stake when just a couple of weeks ago The Times outed a host of brands including Mercedes-Benz, Waitrose, Marie Curie and Dropbox amongst others as inadvertently funding Islamic extremists, pornographers and white supremacists through their online advertising. After being monumentally thrust into the limelight, the general response amongst brands implicated has been to review the strict whitelisting and blacklisting they apparently already have in place. Although, my bet is internally these brands are in a state of flux and their media agencies have a lot to answer for.

It’s no secret that more companies are starting to voice their concerns over the huge mark-ups for digital advertising, receiving shoddy advertising in return. The Times investigation brought to the fore leaked documents from one of the “big six agencies” that stated 40% of its advert-buying income in 2015 came from hidden kickbacks and “other income”. The report has come at a time where a light is already being brightly shone on the opaque practices. Only weeks prior Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at P&G gave a prominent speech about the “murky at best, and fraudulent at worst” non-transparent supply chain which has caused P&G to drill into every agency contract for full transparency by the end of 2017.

Of course the steep growth of programmatic has been accused of being the root cause by some within the industry. There are assertions that brand safety solutions have not kept pace with the current technology and more as an industry needs to be done.


Know your media supplier. Review your media supply chains because the larger they are the less control you have. Brands that have a holistic view of their programmatic strategy will find it much easier to oversee brand placements across channels. If you consolidate down to one DSP you cut out the middle men pushing and pulling the levers to buy and serve media and along with it, the hidden costs. Preferably opting for an independent DSP would be preferable opposed to a DSP supplied by a media owner to ensure your brand’s interest is at the heart.

You then have two options, a self-serve programmatic solution or a fully-managed programmatic solution with your chosen DSP. Usually this decision would depend on the internal resource available. However, with Admedo for example the self-serve programmatic solution has a user intuitive platform which is fully customisable to the user’s needs. Being able to specify white and blacklists to determine which websites are suitable or not within the DSP platform will give you those additional brand assurances. Either way, it’s clear the industry is demanding a move away from the “black box” within programmatic. Choosing a programmatic provider which enables reporting accessible within the platform, real-time dashboard insights and full site lists should really inform your decision.

Brand safety and ad fraud are ongoing and industry wide concerns. By setting KPIs, reviewing processes and ensuring direct communication with your DSP you will form the framework for brand safety governance.

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