A recent Adweek story relayed an online advertising fail where a lawyer's mugshot appeared next to his law office ad. With all the ad technology and data in the hands of advertisers today, it's surprising that such errors are still common. Advertisers -- big and small -- should be using ad technology to help them avoid such mistakes.
There are advanced systems that can analyze the actual content on a web page to determine how that content should be categorized. These systems know the difference between shark pajamas, loan sharks, and shark attack news. This lawyer could have targeted away from his name completely and laid that exclusion over his targeting strategies. Additionally, he could have used a "safe from negative alcohol" category, knowing that he wants to specifically target away from anything mentioning his DUI mishap.
A semantic data provider could have helped the lawyer create a custom category to ensure the right environment for his law firm ads. Combining the intelligence of semantic advertising and the power of keywords allows advertisers to target to a very granular mindset. It allows you to zone in on very specific content with the semantic categories providing the correct contextual environment. Page-level semantic classification is a great way to connect with the content that matches the desired mindset.
It's no longer acceptable for advertisers to not understand the environments in which their ads might appear. Especially when they can tap into data companies that can analyze a page and return attributes that determine the environment around each ad unit. These attributes can be classified into three channels: quality, safety, and category.
Quality content is determined by many factors that are unique to each advertiser and campaign. It's important to know the type of content and structure of a web page in order to decide what you want to target and what you want to be free from. After all, brand safety can mean many things to different advertisers. Some advertisers want to avoid content that might be inappropriate for their audience while others might want to simply avoid content that doesn't meet the objectives of the campaign or creative execution. What is safe or unsafe is different for different advertisers.
Objectionable or misaligned content such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gambling, profanity, hate speech, torrents, and negative news including accidents, crime, death, disasters, and terror are usually ones to avoid for most advertisers. Web pages can be semantically classified giving advertisers the visibility to see where their ads are showing up -- including topic, context, and top-level attributes such as art and entertainment, automotive, business, careers, education, environment, food and beverage, health, etc.
At this stage, online advertising should never be guesswork, especially with the numerous resources available with checks and balances.
"Image of businessman holding drawing of upset face" image via Shutterstock.