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5 horrible ad placements that could have been avoided

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The gossip section

In the previous example, the targeting engine's logic was easily discernable. I guess, theoretically, one could argue the same can be said for this placement, which appears next to an article about Andy Dick standing trial for sex abuse charges. Celebrity gossip gets lots of page views, so it's understandable why the brand would buy impressions on this site.

What went wrong: The brand might have been looking to align itself with celebrity gossip, and it's also possible that it was going after a keyword like "sexy." That strategy backfired, and it got a placement next to a story about sex abuse. This page is affiliated with a top-tier TV network, which shows that even if you limit your buy to premium sites, there is cause for concern.

How to prevent it: A lot of media buyers new to RTB will often simply make white and black lists of sites they want and don't want. The fact that this ad appeared on a premium publisher site speaks to the problems with this tactic. Instead of making site lists, focus on content you don't want your brand aligned with. There's an obvious difference between sexy and sex abuse, but if you set your RTB controls to avoid negative content, you'll preemptively avoid adjacencies that can jeopardize your brand.

 

Comments

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 TechCrunch.com, 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 Wired.com), 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.

http://tinyurl.com/3fdhmad

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.