Not All Publicity Is Good Publicity

On 8th December 2017 by good2us

Google and Facebook sell themselves by promising that online ads are more effective and offer better management metrics than traditional media. Their much-vaunted algorithms that match sellers with prospective buyers demographic metrics look very flawed.

adonlineThe amount spent on Internet advertising, globally and in America, is on its way to surpass television advertising for the first time (see chart). But a controversy at YouTube, owned by Google, shows how digital advertising still has problems.

Despite claims over placing ads in front of those most likely to be interested, advertisements are ending up alongside inappropriate content, including videos by jihadist and neo-Nazi groups. Unsurprisingly some big advertisers, including Coca-Cola, Walmart and General Motors, have announced plans to suspend usage of, or move spending away from, YouTube because of this,

Google’s own brand has suffered: the damage to the firm’s sales could be as much as $1bn in 2017, or around 1% of its gross advertising revenue. Shares of its parent company, Alphabet, have fallen by around 3% owing to the controversy.

This isn’t the first time such a problem has arisen. In 2013 Nissan drew headlines when it placed an ad alongside a video of a beheading on a website There have been other incidents. But never before have so many advertisers raised concerns about what they call brand “safety” all at once and staged such a dramatic boycott.

It’s probably no coincidence that such a furore has arisen Television networks are gearing up for negotiations with advertisers as part of America’s “upfronts”, brands committing around 70% of their TV-ad budgets for the year. It is in the interest of such networks to encourage big brands to look critically at digital advertising.

The furore over extreme content escalated after the Times, owned by the media empire News Corp that also contains many television properties, ran a story in mid-March with the headline, “YouTube hate preachers share screens with household names”.

There is also the opportunity for advertisers, hoping to negotiate better pricing on their future internet-ad buys, to take a strong stand on this issue.

Advertisements that are bought “programmatically”, in an automated fashion using algorithms, allow brands to follow internet-users wherever they spend time and direct ads specifically at them. Unfortunately, the content users are viewing gets ignored.

In appropriate content isn’t the only problem,

In September 2016 Facebook admitted that it had inflated the reported time consumers spent watching video advertisements, and since then has acknowledged further measurement errors. The very foundation of Internet tech’s very advertising advantage.

The problem is not insoluble. Google and Facebook might consider making concessions to advertisers. At the moment Google does not allow third parties, such as the firm Integral Ad Science, to filter or block inappropriate content on behalf of advertisers with the technology they have to do so. That could change.

But advertisers could help themselves. There are tools for this: on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet. Firms can select keywords so that they stay away from certain contexts. Banks can avoid videos and articles that mention foreclosure, for example, and carmakers can choose not to bid on ad space near articles about crashes. But only about 15% of advertisers are using this sort of tool, reckons Scott Knoll, the chief executive of Integral Ad Science.

Technology has brought headaches for advertisers; they’re just going to have to be smart about using it.

The growing popularity of ad blocking software proving a huge problem for publishers and advertisers, especially following the release of Apple’s latest version of its operating system, iOS 9 which now allows ad blocking apps onto its app store. A recent study by marketing firms, Moz and Fractl, found that the take-up of ad blocking software is most popular among millennials with a solid majority- 63 per cent- of 18 to 34 year-olds now using it when viewing digital content.

 The joint study looked into how different forms of advertising were received by millennials. The results found that mobile/in app advertising was perceived as the least effective form with 29.5 per cent summing it up as “very irrelevant” and 25.3 regarding it as “somewhat irrelevant”. The second most ineffective form of advertising among millennials according to the study was sponsored story links which 23.4 per cent of those asked said was as “very irrelevant” and 25.4 per cent considered “somewhat irrelevant”.

 Of the other forms of advertising looked at in the study- display ads, paid search ads, social media ads and ad retargeting- ,ad retargeting (using cookies to re-target a user who has previously visited a site) was considered the most relevant with 18.9 per cent of millennials viewing it as “very relevant” while 34.3 per cent said it was “somewhat relevant”.

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