While marketers have embraced programmatic for media buying efficiency, using it effectively requires marketers be a part of the decision-making, according to a report from Forrester Research made available to Marketing Dive. Yet, only 29% of marketers took an active role in managing whitelists and blacklists of media sites in 2016.
Marketers must also establish whether their brand values should guide their media strategy. Some brands will choose to avoid sites that aren't aligned with their values, while for others, reaching the right audience will take priority over politics.
Besides demanding more transparency from partners, marketers should also consider buying programmatic inventory directly from publishers and eliminating the middle man, something more marketers are interested in, per the report.
Fake news exploded on the scene several months ago as a major issue undermining the online experience for readers, causing marketers to consider the impact on their brands. But the seeds of the problem were planted years ago with the migration to programmatic buying, which enables brands to reach an online audience at scale through automated buying and continues to gain in importance for digital advertising. Unfortunately, programmatic also makes it easy for people to drive ad revenue based purely on traffic, not on the value of the content, in big part because the automated nature of programmatic has resulted in many marketers taking their eye off the ball.
To right the ship, marketers and readers need to learn how to differentiate between valuable content and fake news, which is not about politics but about defrauding advertisers through incendiary content that attracts viewers. There are also some types of legitimate content that marketers need to pay attention to and decide whether or not it is a fit for their brand. Forrester points to satire as one example, explaining that it can be misunderstood and taken as truth.
In a highly divisive political and social atmosphere, some brands are also taking a closer look when their ads appear on opinion sites. For example, AllState, Kellogg's and Warby Parker all recently pulled ads from Breitbart.com. Blaming automated buying for the ads showing up there in the first place is not a tactic brands can reuse indefinitely — eventually they will need to take responsibility for where their ads appear.
Social media sites such as Facebook and others are taking steps to prevent fake news sites from buying ads to drive clicks to their content and to label unsubstantiated content. However, social media platforms are not likely to limit how users share content they like, per Forrester. Instead, the situation could be rectified by news organizations building new business models around first-party data as well as monetizing premium inventory and their known audience, shifting the focus away from click-throughs at the same time. Forrester also expects a new breed of niche auditing agencies to pop up that can provide marketers with objective, third-party analysis of content.