Programmatic firm refunds ads that appear next to offensive content

Dive Brief:

  • MediaMath, an ad tech firm and player in the programmatic space, is offering a measure of brand safety by promising to refund ads that appear next to offensive content as reported by Adweek.
  • “[It] provides transparency and hygiene in execution and reporting, audience addressability at scale and accountability for actors in the digital ecosystem, across all channels,” Joe Zawadzki, CEO of MediaMath, said in a statement. “It will change the way marketers think about buying ads.”
  • Aside from a general concern over having ads appearing with offensive content and brands potentially unwittingly funding hate speech or terrorism through ads on some sites, there might be actual harm to brands according to a Survata survey commissioned by Adweek that found 36% of respondents believed advertisers endorsed the offensive content their ads appear next to.

Dive Insight:

A lack of transparency in the programmatic marketplace has always been an issue for advertisers and publishers alike who are concerned about where the spending goes on the publisher side and where ads are actually displayed on the marketer side.

While the potential for ad fraud has been the focus of transparency questions in the past, concern over brand safety and offensive content has been escalating in recent weeks. Most noticeably, major brands and agencies have suspended spending on Google properties after ads were seen next to YouTube videos supporting terrorism and anti-Semitism.

While the issue is directly impacting Google, for now, it has also caused marketers to rethink the digital ad space overall, including questioning the value in programmatic spending where the advertiser essentially loses all control over where ads appear once the inventory is automatically purchased. MediaMath is one of many players in the digital marketing industry looking to take a proactive stance at a time when advertisers are understandably skittish about the entire marketplace. In another example, Studio 71 is offering YouTube advertisers curated inventory. 

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Top image credit: MediaMath