- Avoiding placement on fake news and hoaxes is top of mind for many marketers post-election, but some big brands are still finding their ads supporting bad sites and inadvertently supplying up to "tens of thousands of dollars" to those outlets, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
- Digital ads from brands such as Fiat Chrysler, Choice Hotels, SoundCloud and Bose, among many others, can be found on websites with false or misleading news. The Journal pointed to an example story from a site called the World News Daily Report titled “Yoko Ono: ‘I Had An Affair With Hillary Clinton In The ’70s,’” which ran alongside spots for a Dodge Ram truck.
- Part of the problem is the sheer opaqueness in how digital ads are served on webpages through multiple middlemen that offer publishers and marketers little control over where ads actually appear. Ads that are automatically placed by computers further amplify the issue.
Ads placed via programmatic and other automated tools have mostly been seen as a major boon by marketers and media buyers alike, taking over the more mundane and repetitive aspects of the advertising business. However, post-election, as the prominence of fake news sites and general misinformation online has become clear, concerns are growing that some of those automated programs are not adept at making judgment calls in regards to ad placement.
Google and Facebook, two of the largest digital advertiser platforms, actively dropped fake news sites from their ad revenue networks last month, but for individual brands like those detailed in the Journal story, the problem is ongoing. Since Google and Facebook aren’t the only places where digital ads are bought, sold and served, marketers are still at the mercy of algorithms and various ad exchanges, which can result in their brand name appearing on publishers that peddle blatantly false and possibly offensive content.
Google is still in the process of implementing its new policy, leading ads served through Alphabet tech to occasionally still appear on false news sites. Some brands like Kellogg are fighting back by cutting out individual publishers from receiving their ads, but that movement was more over values differences and doesn't address the problem at a larger scale.
From the ad tech perspective, firms like AdRoll Inc. rarely get past learning the name of the publisher where client ads will appear, the company's President Adam Berke told the Journal. Many firms don't have the time to vet individual websites where partners serve ads, according to Berke.