5 horrible ad placements that could have been avoided

  • Previous
  • 1 of 6
  • View as single page

The wrong place at the wrong time

You're a brand advertiser. You know you have to be on the internet, but you're not exactly sure how. So you retain an agency. It comes up with cool creative and formulates a campaign. The buy begins. Everyone's excited. Then all hell breaks loose.

Earlier this month, Business Insider published an article that further exposed the dirty little secret of online advertising: Brands are paying for ads that show up in very inappropriate locations. Maybe inappropriate is the wrong word. I mean really, really bad content -- the kind that, if viewed at work, could get you fired.

There are no analytics that can measure the damage brands can suffer from bad ad placements. Bad placements, or "ad fails," are still an issue that just won't go away. At best, we are talking about wasted impressions and money. Worst case, the advertising has a negative brand impact and affects consumer perception and brand favorability. Just for fun, we did an accidental mini case study at the office.

First, my disclaimer: My company evaluates what is on a web page to help a buyer or a seller target. Some of the more interesting URLs that surface catch the attention, and maybe the imagination, of the employees. Thus, we were introduced to the Big Girls Bras brand. By using this example, we are not picking on anyone. In fact, given the wide variety of URLs we see, we often say "we do not judge." Trust me, this example is tame.

At our marketing director's recommendation, a few others visited this site to see what the brand was all about. Lots of team members had a chuckle, but the site dropped a cookie on our browsers and the ad followed us all around the web. All of the placements that follow were seen by Peer39 employees within a three-day span. The placements ranged from being an uncomfortable association to an outright waste. But the good news is that there is an easy fix. We'll explore solutions to each of the following bad placements in this article.



Ross Bradley
Ross Bradley August 31, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Just popped back looking for a reply? In regards to BIG Brands and "re-targeting" (and in a 'no holds barred' fashion), across the entire web.- In my own linked post I point out, that in targeting people not pages, brand safety shouldn't be any concern whatsoever. As it always becomes a situation of (only), being between the "user" who is being re-targeted and the Brand's Ad, that is used to re-target with.

Aaron Richman
Aaron Richman August 22, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Great article Andy. This is a recurring question from many of our advertisers and an issue that prevents many brands from testing retargeting in the first place. As a marketer, it's imperative you know where your ads are running, both from a brand safety and ROI standpoint.

With platforms like AdRoll (disclosure: I work there), advertisers can see the websites their ads are running on along with the costs associated with advertising on those sites. This is important for a couple reasons.

1. At AdRoll, we work very closely with our partners (Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL + 30 other networks) to ensure our inventory is brand-safe. However, as a marketer, you still want to make sure your ads are appearing on sites that showcase your brand.

2. This list can help you determine where your best prospects are going after they leave your website. For instance, you might see that a high percentage of your audience is visiting, and therefore this could be a good channel for lead generation.

3. If you're serving high impressions on a site and it's not bringing you clicks and conversions (e.g. you sell baby products and you see a high volume of ads being served on, you can easily remove this site from your campaign.

4. ROI: We show our advertisers what it cost them (CPC & CPM) to run on each website. If our advertisers feel the price is too high, they can exclude the site from their retargeting network.

Hope this helps!

Aaron R.
AdRoll [dot] com

Ross Bradley
Ross Bradley August 18, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Interesting, but? ........."a few others visited this site to see what the brand was all about. Lots of team members had a chuckle, but the site dropped a cookie on our browsers and the ad followed us all around the web."

Did you expect anything other than this possibility? I have only just posted on this very subject and would welcome you to correct me as to where I have gone wrong with my own impression - in regards to BIG Brands and "re-targeting" (and in a 'no holds barred' fashion), across the entire web. I look forward to your reply here. Thanks.

Spencer Broome
Spencer Broome August 18, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Good points and entertaining. It's hard not to find humor in some of these placements. But it's much more humbling when it is your own ad.

Ben Plomion
Ben Plomion August 18, 2011 at 9:31 AM

Great (and also very entertaining) article Andy. Brands need to have the confidence that their ads will only appear on brand-safe sites. There are multiple companies out there like Peer39 that helps rank publishers. Chango has partnered with adSafe and DoubleVerify to ensure that we only buy ads across sites that are brand-safe. Frequency cap should also be used to avoid the big brother effect.